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Tracing New Media Across Time & Geography: Power, Inequality, and Technology

Workshop on New Media in Istanbul,
May 20-21, 2022

This workshop brings together anthropologists, media, and communication scholars to explore new media as a historical and ethnographic subject of inquiry. It specifically highlights how meanings attached to the notion of new media are not only shaped by technological advancements but also by relations of power. In pursuing this approach, the workshop has two agendas. It first centers technology users, whether they are radio listeners in the early 1900s or digital platform users in the early 2000s, as one of the key actors that produce technological novelty. Doing so underlines how the socio-economic position of these users shapes what gets to be defined as new technology. Second, the workshop looks at the constructions of media novelty in both Global North and Global South in order to question how Western hegemony informs the constructions of media novelty on global and national scales.

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Such a focus highlights technological newness as a ground of global contestation through which the changing terms of the hierarchical world order, from industrial-developmentalism to neoliberalism, post-liberalism, or post-industrialism, are imposed and negotiated. Specific questions explored include:

-How do meanings attributed to new media change across time and geography?

-What is the role of social, political, and economic transformations in the formation and reformation of the notion of new media?

-How does the changing relationship of technology to global, class, gender, and racial inequalities make visible a medium’s novelty?

-How does new media become a means by which these inequalities are reproduced and challenged?


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