Professor Charlene Makley
Office: 312 Vollum
Phone: 771-1112, ext. 7461
Office Hours: Mon 5:00-6:30, Thurs. 10:00-11:30

The meteoric rise of new forms of digital data and social media in the past 20 years has generated, on the one hand, fantasies of utopic intimacy (the immediacy promised in a new "global village"), and on the other, moral panics about unprecedented estrangement (the hyper-mediation of virtual worlds and corporate or government "big data"). In this course, we challenge this dichotomy of intimacy/immediacy versus estrangement/mediation by taking an anthropological approach to the question of human communication. Drawing on interdisciplinary debates in philosophy, linguistic anthropology, and media studies, we develop tools for understanding all communication as both mediated and material, grounded in embodied practices and technological infrastructures and situated in historical events. This in turn will allow us to grasp how circulations of media forms and commodities participate in the creation of types of persons and publics across multiple scales of time and space. Bringing those theoretical and methodological debates into dialogue with ethnographic studies and other forms of media, we ask: how do people sense and interpret themselves, others and their worlds? What is the boundary between the human and nonhuman in a digital age? What roles do states or transregional capitalisms play in the mediation of valued and devalued persons and publics? What are the possibilities for communication amidst great gaps in access to valued forms of media?