how anthropologists study modern media


Nina Brown, Thomas McIlwraith, Laura Tubelle de González

2020 American Anthropological Association
2300 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 1301
Arlington, VA 22201

ISBN Print: 978-1-931303-67-5
ISBN Digital: 978-1-931303-66-8

This book is a project of the Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC) and our parent organization, the American Anthropological Association
(AAA). Please refer to the website for a complete table of contents and more information about the


Perspectives: An Open Introduction to Cultural Anthropology by Nina Brown, Thomas McIlwraith, Laura Tubelle de

González is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where

otherwise noted.

Under this CC BY-NC 4.0 copyright license you are free to:

Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format

Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material

Under the following terms:

Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You

may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes.

16 16

Bryce Peake, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Learning Objectives Learning Objectives

• Describe the history of media anthropology including initial resistance to media as a topic of anthropological study.

• Identify the major categories of media that are studied by anthropologists.

• Explain how anthropologists explore the meaning of media and media experiences including the ways meaning can be shared
or contested by individuals and communities.

• Evaluate innovative approaches to media anthropology including autoethnography, photo voice, participatory photography,
and fabrication.

• Assess the importance of mechanical and cultural infrastructure for the exchange of ideas.

Media is a word that can be used to describe a set of technologies that connect multiple people at one

time to shared content. Media anthropologists study mass communication (broadcast radio and tele-

vision) and digital media (Internet, streaming, and mobile telephony) with a particular interest in the

ways in which media are designed or adapted for use by specific communities or cultural groups. Many


research projects focus on media practices, the habits or behaviors of the people who produce media,

the audiences who interact with media, and everyone in between.

Many classic anthropological concepts are incorporated in studies of media.

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