Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Profile Module 2: Communication/Mediascapes

Students will receive an understanding of the symbolic forms of presentation and communication of ideas, values and norms in a trans-cultural and historical media context. Students will learn the user opportunities for social anthropological and audiovisual research methods in media, and will also become acquainted with virtual networks and use them for social anthropological empirical research.

B1) Seminar “Media Activism” (Philipp Budka)


Course Description

Activism with/in/through media can be broadly understood as forms of technology mediated activism that intend to spark, create and/or support social and political change. So change (and therefore continuity) is at the heart of media activism, as, for instance, Kidd and Rodriguez (2009) note: “Grassroots media have grown from a set of small and isolated experiments to a complex of networks of participatory communications that are integral to local, national, and transnational projects of social change” (p. 1). Since media activism is related to a diversity of phenomena – such as power relationships, conflict or globalization – as well as to questions about the conception of time and space, organizational structures, collective identities and different forms of sociality, it has become a broad, interdisciplinary research field. This course gives an overview of media activism from a predominantly anthropological and ethnographic perspective.

When engaging with media activism, a variety of contexts, theoretical conceptualizations and methodological approaches have to be considered. In this course, students learn about these aspects by reviewing relevant literature and by discussing different forms and examples of media activism and related questions, issues and problems:

  • How can we contextualize media activism and related practice in anthropology?

  • What historical developments can we identify? And what does this tell us about contemporary activist processes and practices?

  • What is the role of (sociocultural and technological) change, politics, power, globalization and (de)colonization in an anthropological engagement with media activism?

  • How can we ethnographically describe and analyze media activist processes and practices? What are the possibilities and challenges?

  • How can we understand media activism in digital times and in the age of social media? What has changed?

  • What does it mean to interpret and conceptualize media activism as (a form or a part of) cultural activism?

Seminar Session:

  • 10 online sessions with Zoom; one session per week.

  • For the preparation of each seminar session, students read selected texts and/or watch films and videos and write short reviews/critiques of 300 words. Students prepare this way to actively contribute to the discussion during the session.

In case students are not able to participate on a weekly basis because of severe time constraints, the weekly reviews can be replaced by a presentation on a selected topic.

  • Each session and topic is introduced by the teacher with a short presentation.

Final Essay:

  • Students write a final essay of 2,000 words about a seminar related topic (the essay can build on reviewed literature/films, it can discuss theoretical issues or empirical student projects).

  • Students submit their essays no later than 9th of August 2019.


  • Final essay: 50% of overall assessment

  • Weekly reviews: 25%

  • Active contribution to the seminar sessions (discussion, presentation, etc.): 25%


Kidd, D., & Rodriguez, C. (2009). Introduction. In C. Rodriguez, D. Kidd, & L. Stein (Eds.), Making our media: Global initiatives toward a democratic public sphere, Volume 1: Creating new communication spaces (pp. 1-22). New York: Hampton Press.

© Thomas John 2012, Mexico


B2) Qualitative Methods II (Prof. Dr. Yari Or) 

In-house class + online, NON-GRADED

This workshop is an introduction to the epistemology and methodology of qualitative data collection and exposition. The course will address the dominant theoretical approaches to qualitative research (analytic, grounded theory, interpretive, narrative, phenomenological). The class is designed for graduate students who are planning their research and data collection. Special attention will be paid to epistemological and methodological considerations as they pertain to the practice of visual anthropology.

Please note: This class requires advance preparation in order to make the most of the short time we have together. You will need to dedicate considerable amounts of time in preparing adequately for the four meetings during the two in-house classes (readings and working with data), and you should plan your time accordingly. All readings and assignments need to be completed as in-house class activities are based on these. Experience shows that you will be able to use most of your written assignments in your MA thesis. This is good news. The bad news is that students who cannot prepare the readings or who cannot complete the assignments will not be able to participate.

B3) Immersive Technologies (Undine Frömming, Melody Koebler)

Online with avatars in 3D-environment, GRADED COURSE

The formation of virtual environments is a phenomenon that persists throughout the history of human populations. The dream to visually duplicate the world traces back to antiquity. More recently, Mark Zuckerberg and his team at Oculus predicted that smartphones might become obsolete within a decade and that ubiquity of virtual, augmented and mixed realities will fundamentally alter the way human societies interact.In this course, students and lecturer will meet online as avatars in different virtual environments predominantly accessed through head-mounted displays (HMDs) such as Oculus Go, Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR. The class will analyze and discuss the current state of immersive technology from an anthropological perspective. Students will engage in small practice-based research projects about these technologies in several virtual communities. This approach will enrich, challenge and provoke students' understanding of various concepts covered over the semester.After this course, students will be well versed in the history of virtual realities and their meaning for cultures. Students will become adept at navigating an avatar in a virtual environment and learn how to conduct ethnographic research with immersive technology in virtual communities. Students will gain an extensive understanding of these technologies and deep insight into the values and needs of 3D communities. Students' acquired skills and knowledge can serve as a foundation for future scholarly research or in an applied-context enables collaboration with programmers and technology platforms to build inclusive futures that are beneficial for societies.