Over the past century, the mass media (radio, television, cinema, the internet, etc.) have transformed societies throughout the world at a number of levels. To date, most of the influential theoretical work on the mass media has been done in the context of European and American society in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Anthropologists are only beginning to test these theories in non-Western contexts. This course will examine the challenges that focusing on the mass medis - including technologies, production processes, content, and reception - present for the theory and practice of anthropology. In this class, students will also be introduced to some of the basic theories and methodologies of cultural studies, as well as the application of traditional ethnographic methods to media studies. The questions we will address include:
1. What can studying the mas media tell us about contemporary cultures and social structures?
2. How do different communications media construct the boundaries of communities and how "community" is defined?
3. How do different media technologies construct or transform class, gender, and other power structures?
4.How does the introduction of new media into a culture transform the experiences and conceptualization of time, space, society, and the body?
5. What are the best research methods for answering the above questions in specific cultural and historical contexts? How do we do ethnography in societies saturated with a wide range of media technologies?