Virtual Annual Conference 2020
Pandemic Cooperation: Media and Society in Times of Corona
University of Siegen | 27-28 October 2020
While the political reactions to the spread of COVID-19 worldwide have led to disruptions and interruptions of firmly established chains of cooperation in many areas of everyday life, the ongoing development offers unique opportunities for researchers to in-vestigate the highly dynamic socio-technical effects of the corona crisis from various angles. We are witnessing a controversial public debate about the appropriate measures to contain the health risks, but also the economic, political and social consequences of the pandemic. At the same time, all manner of socio-technical infrastructures are being subjected to considerable stress tests: from the basic healthcare infrastructure and logistics for food and daily consumer goods, to the digital communications infra-structure and issues of privacy protection.
Far-reaching restrictions to contact and curfews, travel restrictions, geopolitical distortions, increasing requirements for domestic, elderly and child care work, very acute health risks to citizens – the CRC 1187 understands these developments as a large-scale and unanticipated social breaching experiment that renders visible the everyday ongoing accomplishments of interactional practical infrastructures and technical infrastructures alike. The annual 2020 conference brings together scholars and practitioners from various fields to develop an understanding of the unfolding crisis in media and social theoretical terms.
|Main conference language will be English.|
Tuesday, Oct 27
11:00 – 12:00
Members of the CRC
14:30 – 15:00
Tristan Thielmann, Timo Kaerlein
|15:00 – 16:00||Panel 1||
|16:00 – 16:15||Break||
|16:15 – 17:15||Panel 2||
Capturing Corona. (Data) Stories on Making Corona Public
|17:15 – 17:30||Break||
|17:30 – 18:30||Panel 3||
Keeping in Touch in Times of Corona
Wednesday, Oct 28
10:00 – 11:00
Sarah Pink (Melbourne):
14:30 – 15:30
Arjun Appadurai (New York), Paula Kift (New York):
|15:30 – 15:45||Break|
|15:45 – 16:45||Panel 4||Pandemic Attuning: Methodological Challenges and Provocations from the Field
(Session Host: Sam Hind)
|16:45 – 17:00||Break|
|17:00 – 18:00||Panel 5||
Pandemic Video Cooperation
|18:00 – 18:15||Break|
|18:15 – 19:15||Panel 6||
Affects of Pandemic Cooperation
Concept and Organization: Marcus Burkhardt, Tobias Conradi, Carolin Gerlitz, Timo Kaerlein, David Waldecker, Jutta Wiesemann, Axel Volmar
Authors: Jason Chao, Michael Dieter, Anne Helmond, Nate Tkacz, Fernando van der Vlist and Esther Weltevrede
Mapping COVID-19 pandemic response apps
Mobile apps are emerging as a key element in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic incountries all around the globe. This is a unique development. On the one hand, manygovernments and global health authorities have proposed and introduced ‘official’ apps. In somecountries, their apps also immediately raised concerns related to privacy, security, and adoptionrates required for their effectiveness. On the other hand, there is a proliferation of ‘third-party’(mobile) apps related to the pandemic including apps facilitating ‘social distancing’. Asmarketplaces and distribution platforms for these apps, leading digital platforms and app storesadopted a central role in the global response to COVID-19 at all levels of society – fromgovernment policy to the daily routines of people around the globe.We present initial findings from empirical digital methods research into the emergingecologies of apps related to COVID-19 in the Google Play and App Store across 150 countries.This includes official apps by government authorities and unofficial apps by third-partydevelopers. Our approach moves beyond an analysis of single apps or app types (such asdigital contract tracing apps) to look at the diversity of COVID-19-related apps and the responsetypes represented, and also to conduct cross-country comparisons in this regard. Drawing from‘multi-situated app studies’ (Dieter, et al. 2019), we provide an analysis of how app storesorganize and structure the app-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside researchinto data flows and the interface designs of significant apps in this domain.We conclude with critical reflections and general observations about the governance risksand challenges posed to the public by COVID-19 apps. In particular, we will conceptualise howapps, app-infrastructures, and platforms have been mobilised during the crisis, whichforegrounds the increased entanglement of private corporate interests and technologies with theefforts to manage the crisis by public government and health organisations worldwide.
Dieter M, Gerlitz C, Helmond A, Tkacz N, van der Vlist FN and Weltevrede E (2019)Multi-situated app studies: Methods and propositions. Social Media + Society, 5(2), 1–15.doi: 10.1177/2056305119846486.
Jason Chao is a PhD student and researcher at the Collaborative Research Centre “Media of Cooperation” of the University of Siegen. His research interests include digital methods and appstudies.
Michael Dieter is Associate Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (CIM),University of Warwick. His research interests include interface criticism, app studies, mediatheory and media art. His publications have appeared in journals such as Theory, Culture &Society, Social Media + Society and Internet Histories.
Anne Helmond is an Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative and App Studies initiative. Her research interests include software studies, platform studies, platformization, app studies, digitalmethods, and web history. She holds a Veni grant from the Dutch Research Council for theproject ‘App Ecosystems.’
Nathaniel Tkacz is a Reader of Digital Media and Culture at the University of Warwick. His research interests include apps, interface methods and criticism, platform economies,experience design, and critical data studies.
Fernando van der Vlist is a PhD candidate at Utrecht University and a research associate withthe Collaborative Research Centre “Media of Cooperation” at the University of Siegen. His research interests include software studies, digital methods, social media and platform studies,app studies, and critical data studies.
Esther Weltevrede is Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative and App Studies initiative. She holds a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for the project ‘apps and data infrastructures.’ Her research interests include digital methods, software and platform studies, app studies, data infrastructures and social media automation.
Author: Elise Li Zheng
“Health Barcode” Technology and Pandemic Management on the User’s Side: A Study Proposal
In order to contain the initial outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in January, 2020, the Chinese government enforced a series of surveillance methods on local level, and among those was the introduction of a tracing mechanism – the “Health Barcode” on mobile phones. The barcode records location-related data generated by a user, and the use of this barcode was mandatory for using public services such as riding a bus. This novel contact/movement tracing technology is a combination of current popular technological applications (such as mobile payment and ticket) and a mass surveillance strategy, which was initiated by the government and carried out by tech giants (such as Tencent and Alibaba). It turns citizens into users as they navigate through the public health surveillance system with the use of the barcode.
In this proposal, I will first give a theoretical reflection on the use of this technology by engaging with sociological analysis of “dataveillance,” the idea of tracking and self-tracking, and a postphenomenological perspective which connects the interface of design (the “Barcode”) with public/personal perceptions of health. Then, I will propose an interdisciplinary, empirical based study of “Health Barcode,” involving the following areas for investigation: 1) user’s experience of using the “Health Barcode” in the daily life; 2) user’s perception of public health, surveillance and privacy through the engagement of technology; 3) the exchange of information and data sharing for the purpose of surveillance; 4) accessibility and technology literacy in different social groups.
The study aims at revealing the micro-aspects of sociotechnical interactions during the pandemic, and the social, cultural and political implications of public health surveillance technologies. By such effort, this study will picture the details of sociotechnical connections of public issues with personal life and health.
Elise Li Zheng is currently a PhD student at the department of History and Sociology of Science and Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the relationship between technology and health, especially the social impact of cutting-edge personal technology on both the behaviors and perceptions of health, fitness and well-being. Her research looks at health and technology in China and East Asian, and engages with knowledge production and communication of health-related information. Alongside her academic works, she writes technology and society essays for the general audience and her pieces have appeared on various media outlets in China.
Author: Timm Sureau
A think piece on Germany’s Corona-Warn-App
Prior to the coding of an app usually a long process of reflection takes place. Such a reflection could include questions of software design, of compatible operating systems, app design, aim, functionalities, future users, costs, salaries for programmers, necessity for the program, chances of success, feasibility, juridical questions, general data protection regulations, encryption and alike. While this process that is part of programming is rarely done in public – and nobody wants that for every program – the Corona-Warn-App (Germany’s corona tracing app) was a matter of public debate since its inception: The German national academy of science Leopoldina suggested to create the app, the Robert-Koch-Institut – Germany’s pandemic advisory board – together with government officials announced its inception, and NGOs, research organisations, journalists and commentators, members of parliament, jurists, the Chaos Computer Club commented on the design, on anonymity and on data protection. The Fraunhofer Institut began programming an app with a centralised server structure; in the meantime Apple and Google agreed on a common low energy Bluetooth tracing standard, which was then one core reason to shift from a centralised to a decentralised tracking system. Shortly later, the German government asked SAP and Telekom to continue Fraunhofer’s work, who then programmed a new app, declared the code open source, included the promise to delete that app as soon as there is no need for it anymore, participated in a public debate on data protection, the costs were laid out publicly and are debated as well. And when the program was ready, many politicians and NGOs praised, rather few criticised it, and within days fourteen million downloads were registered, half of it by iPhone-users who only represent 25% of German smartphones. And due to Corona and the urgency, a lot of people raised their concerns and comments online and publicly, diverting from “normal” procedures. In order to protect people from app-usage enforcements by employers, shop and restaurant owners or service provides, the Green party asked for a law to make the app voluntary.
In this think piece based on online observations, I will use the case of the CoronaWarnApp to look at the process of creation of a governmental software programmed for the people residing in Germany from its inception to its usage, allowing me reflecting on hopes in technologies and technological beliefs, on future user participation and on access to technology, on decentralised anthropometrie, ephemerality and on the juridification of programming; and on the question why many EUropean states are investing in a similar app instead of bundling their efforts, and why, given the necessity of a public debate to increase acceptance, this could actually make sense.
Timm Sureau is a post-doc at the Law and Anthropology Department of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Timm Sureau has been doing research since 2006, first in Sudan, then in South Sudan, and now in Germany. His first research focused on political narratives of marginalization in northern Sudan, highlighting the dissonance between the media discourse, personal and family experiences. For his PhD, he examined state formation processes in South Sudan from an anthropological viewpoint, allowing him to enquire into the mechanisms of legitimation and negotiation in state formation. The low degree of institutionalization with its low barriers of access during the emergence of South Sudanese statehood allowed him to analyze the scope and influence of manifold individual and collective actors. More recently, he concentrates on the digital processes by which state stability and legitimation is supported, and how knowledge, ‘truth’ and evidence are shaped through the control of information flow.
He received his magister’s degree in Social Anthropology, Human Geography and Computer Science from the Free University of Berlin in 2010, and defended his dissertation in 2017 at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. He then coordinated the International Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment from 2017-2019, and in 2019, he joined the SFB 1171 Affective Societies in the project “Sentiments of Bureaucracies: Affective Dynamics in the Digital Transformation of German Immigration Management”. Therein he focusses on the digitalization and its multiple consequences of the German migration management.
Authors: Noortje Marres (Warwick), Liliana Bounegru (London), Jonathan Gray (London), James Tripp (Warwick), Helena Suarez Val (Warwick), Iain Emsley (Warwick), Federica Bardelli (Milan), Gabriele Colombo (Milan), Cian O’Donovan (London), Cagatay Turkay (Warwick)
Corona testing on Twitter: Surfacing testing situations “Beyond the Laboratory”
This interdisciplinary project conducts an interpretative analysis of Corona Testing on Twitter in order to surface testing situations “beyond the laboratory”. Using digital and visual methods (lexicon-based analysis; image grids), the aim is to draw out from Twitter conversations about Corona testing an everyday perspective on the constraints, challenges and affordances of testing in environments in society. Methodologically speaking, we seek to devise ways to move from interpretive analyses of testing situations at the level of individual tweets to analysing situations at the level of a larger dataset (see on this point also Dieter et al, 2019).
Our methodology implements with digital methods Situational Analysis, a cartographic approach to interpretative data analysis developed by Adele Clarke, which maps heterogeneous entities detected in fieldwork data, in order to determine what is problematic, and/or what can make a difference in a situation. Building on this approach, this project uses different strategies of data visualisation (hashtag networks, lexicon methods, image grids and image content similarity), in order to surface from Twitter data entities, expressions and attributes that specify, or contribute to the figuration of, testing beyond the laboratory as an everyday situation.
In terms of our analysis, we are exploring whether and how Twitter communications about testing for Covid complicate and enrich sociological understandings of testing beyond the laboratory. In many spheres, testing beyond the laboratory has been associated with a move to user-led testing, and self-responsibilization of patients. Our Twitter analysis to date points towards a different dynamic: on Twitter, testing for Covid beyond the laboratory puts everyday people in direct and explicit relation with institutions (hospitals, schools) and state actors (PM, local government). From the perspective of social media analysis, testing for Covid beyond the laboratory may amount to a socialisation of testing: to test or not to test for Covid ostensibly places people in relations of responsibility or irresponsibility to others (responsibilization of social relations, not self responsibilization).
Liliana Bounegru is Lecturer in Digital Methods at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London. Her research interests include digital media, digital culture, digital journalism, inventive methods for new media research, digital methods, infrastructure studies, platform studies, issue mapping and controversy mapping.
Iain Emsley is a part-time Academic Technologist at CIM and teaches technical workshops on a range of subjects including app studies and Python. He is researching a PhD in Digital Media at Sussex University.
Noortje Marres is Professor in Science, Technology and Society and Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies (CIM) at the University of Warwick (UK). She published two single-authored books, Material Participation (Palgrave, 2012) and Digital Sociology (Polity, 2017), both available in paperback, and edited the volume Inventing the Social (Mattering Press, 2018) together with Michael Guggenheim and Alex Wilkie. She was Mercator Fellow at the University of Siegen in 2018-2019.
Cian O’Donovan is researching the policies, promises and practices of innovation in robotics, social care and sustainability. He works at UCL’s Department of Science and Technology Studies.
Helena Suárez Val is an activist and social communications producer in the areas of human rights and feminism. She holds an MA in Gender, Media and Culture (Goldsmiths) and is currently a doctoral student at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at University of Warwick, researching data and data visualisations of feminicide in Latin America.
James Tripp is the Senior Academic Technologist at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies and holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. He writes research software, teaches technical workshops on a diverse range of topics including digital methods, geospatial analysis, inferential statistics, data science and administers CIM’s server infrastructure.
Cagatay Turkay is Associate Professor in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick. His research falls under the broad area that can be referred to as Visual Data Science.
Dr. Jonathan Gray is Lecturer in Critical Infrastructure Studies at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London; Co-Founder of the Public Data Lab; and Research Associate at the Digital Methods Initiative at the University of Amsterdam and the médialab at Sciences Po, Paris.
Author: Steffen Krämer
Boundary crossing as infrastructural imaginarye
The graph that accompanied the call to “flatten the curve” during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic represented and warned against the danger of a collective boundary crossing. Why did it capture so effectively the imagination of so many different commentators and does it resemble what discourse analysts in the 1980s and 90s have called ‘collective symbols’ as it translates across different discourses? On the one hand, the career of the graph cannot be explained by solely focusing on a pandemic imaginary, but it must also be situated in relation to other collective boundary crossings for which it has been adapted, for example in climate change discourse. On the other hand, the image’s career was paired with an infrastructural and epistemological discourse about its validity and production. This dynamic moves the image’s status beyond that of a ‘collective symbol’ which represents a social entity by symbolic convention. Instead, it might better be addressed as a conceptual anchor for an infrastructural imaginary that can be practiced and acted out: for example, in debates about the capacity of national health systems (i.e. beds in hospitals), about the statistical production of graphs and claims for open data, or in tutorials and webinars about data visualization. The original meaning of the concept of a collective symbol proved helpful for certain levels of analysis, but it falls short in specifying how different epistemic practices become attached to a shared technological milieu. In my talk, I will propose a number of factors that mediated this attachment and might explain how the graph managed to obtain this powerful role. Those factors are ashared thematic relevance, a diagrammatic flexibility (or ‘immutable mobility,’ e.g. formemecirculation), the socio-figurative extensiveness of the imagined production condition, and an intuitive sense of accomplishment conveyed by the image.
Steffen Krämer is a researcher and lecturer in media studies. He has recently completed his doctoral research atthe University of Hamburgwith adissertation entitled “Diagrams of Epidemiological Knowledge”.
Author: Omotayo Omitola
Investigating and Documenting a Pandemic: A Study of an Investigative Journalist’s Twitter Handle
Fisayo Soyombo is an acclaimed Nigerian investigative journalist who has over 45000 followers on Twitter, making him something of a micro-celebrity in the Nigerian social media space. Although Soyombo is known for periodically reporting investigative stories (which he uncovers) on his eponymous Twitter handle, expectedly in the pandemic situation his stories, many of which originate from the mass media, are as short and frequent as they are unrelated, originating from far-flung parts of the country. In addition to the investigative stories, he tweets about the general COVID-19 situation, using real life stories to educate people about the possible consequences of their actions. From a two-step flow angle, this paper looks into such tweets on COVID-19 appearing on his Twitter handle from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020. Through qualitative content analysis of the tweets, it identifies themes ranging from investigative reporting and eye witness reports to mere musings, all of which coalesce into a pandemic diary of some sort. It is striking that in his investigative reports, Soyombo mentions how he gets tips and is supplied with facts by people who can almost always be verified. This is rather unusual in investigative reporting where the identities of sources are protected, and it highlights the peculiarity of the pandemic in promoting cooperation in investigative journalism. Similarly, Soyombo refers to real places and people in his musings on the pandemic and often even tags them. By employing these tactics, Soyombo as an influencer and a journalist interprets events surrounding the pandemic situation and humanises the people involved. He reifies the abstract and distal aspects of the pandemic such as the roles of institutions like the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and also law enforcement agencies, hospitals and individuals in curbing the spread of the virus.
Omotayo Omitola is a Junior Research Fellow in the Cultural and Media Studies Unit, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where she teaches culture and media in conflict context, gender and performance as well as folklore, mass and popular culture. Her research interest is digital humanities, with special focus on how digital citizens compose and make use of texts across various platforms.
Authors: Christian Meyer (Konstanz) and Jürgen Streeck (Austin)
Object-Lessons on Touch
Touch is a modality of human interaction whose varieties range from the infliction of pain and extinction of the agency and selfhood of the other during torture to the mutual, self-sufficient production of sensuous pleasure in the other body during erotic encounters. Touch is as constitutive of selfhood as it is a threat to it. Anywhere on this arc of possibilities, tactile interactions can become ritualized, resulting in a plethora of taps, nudges, hugs, and tie-signs (Goffman 1971) by which individuals display and negotiate activities and relationships.
The period of social isolation and distancing that the corona virus has engendered is an unwanted natural experiment—a series of object lessons—that brings into focus that touch is part of the fabric of human interaction and relatedness in multiple and rather different ways, suggesting the imagery of a ‘dialectic’. For example, tactile signs such as those enacted during greetings, leave-takings, and other ritualized interactions are quite easily transposed into a purely visual-auditory mode; the sensation of touch is practically dispensable in such encounters: hugging has become a ‘grammatical’ device. On the other hand, humans miss the immediate and intimate ‘compresence’ (Merleau-Ponty) and existential reassurance that only living touch offers. And where couples and families are in lockdown together, constantly within reach of one another’s hands, affect-regulating and pacific effects of touch can become overwhelmed and destroyed by the desire to dominate, control, and annihilate and the opportunities with which the lockdown provides it.
The objective of our presentation is to discuss some of the main features of tactility as a mode of human relatedness and communication that the lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic brings into relief, and to suggest some ways to study them.
Authors: Astrid Vogelpohl (Siegen) and Pip Hare (Siegen)
Keeping in touchwhile keeping distance
‘Bring Corona nicht zur Oma’ (Don’t bring Corona to Grandma). This simple message on posters displayed in Germany during the Covid-19 pandemic brings home a public health message that has often been tangibly distressing: Stay apart to stay safe.
For many families, however, the problem of not being able to meet regularly in a shared physical space was not first encountered with the outbreak of the virus. Within our long-term project ‘Early Childhood and Smartphone’, we have been observing how family members use digital communication tools to overcome geography and spend time with one another. For some families, these practices were primarily supplementary, a way to ‘stay in touch’ between physical meetings. For others, the first ever contact between certain family members was made digitally, with small children and grandparents getting to know each other via screens long before they met in person. Since the imposition of lockdowns, however, video communication has become a central part of everyday life for millions of families the world over.
With the presentation of a short camera ethnographic film – a precise arrangement of intensely observed touching practices – we will offer insights into the multi-dimensionality of touching in early childhood with digital media. At one level, we encounter experimental tactile practices undertaken to explore the surfaces of devices and other objects to test their responsiveness: stroking, swiping, hammering… licking, sucking, biting…
At another, ‘deeper’ level, we observe practices that appear to reach through devices towards a person who is made present via video telecommunication. The film shows bodies taking on double roles to accept caresses intended for distant conversation participants; a child’s toe lingering on a screen that has gone dark, seemingly reticent to let go of a connection lost. Together despite distance, touch becomes a game: Whose nose is where?
These practices seem to become more than mere substitutes for physical meetings or attempts to compensate for the inadequacies of virtual contact; we discover the creativity of cooperation within separated families as they hide and seek, show and share, trick and treat. Interrupted connections, misunderstandings, and misplaced fingers on touchscreens reveal the precarity of the connection and the emotional impact of its severing.
(1) Camera ethnography has been developed over the last 15 years by Bina Elisabeth Mohn. See: Mohn, Bina, P. Hare, A.Vogelpohl and J.Wiesemann. 2019. Cooperation and Difference. Camera Ethnography in the Research Project “Early Childhood and Smartphone”. Media in Action: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Cooperative Media.
Media professional and media educator Astrid Vogelpohl and visual anthropologist Pip Hare have been working together with Bina E. Mohn to conduct camera ethnography in the research project B05 “Early ChildhoodandSmartphone”(PI Jutta Wiesemann) since 2016.
Authors: Fernanda Roque Amendoeira (Belo Horizonte), Sineide Gonçalves (Belo Horizonte), Anna Ladilova (Gießen) and Ulrike Schröder (Belo Horizonte)
Embodied Perspectives on Communication with Face Masks in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Recent studies on communication go beyond single modalities and have emphasized the embodied nature of interaction by considering talk, gaze, gesture, body posture, and body manipulations as holistic global ‘gestalts’ (Mondada 2013). According to this view, social cognition emerges when bodies are intertwined in a process of bodily resonance, coordinated interaction, and fused bodies as a result of intercorporeality and interaffectivity (Fuchs 2017; Meyer, Streeck & Scott 2017). However, the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply changed our everyday communication in institutional, public and private spaces due to the interactional restrictions related to our limited mobility in public spaces, social distancing, and the use of face masks. As a consequence, the questions may be raised, what happens when all of a sudden the use of face masks blocks important parts of this interactional fluency, and how do the involved interlocutors deal with it? In order to follow up on this issue, the Research Center Intercultural Communication in Multimodal Interactions – ICMI, collected video data from different countries, partly retrieved from Youtube and partly recorded by the group itself, and transcribed these data that served as a basis for the analysis of communication with face masks. The following results have been revealed: (a) how eyebrow raise as a pitch accent marker (Flecha-García 2010) comes to the fore in face-to-face interaction with face masks; (b) how gesture space is enlarged and markably used by more beat gestures (McNeill 1992) when social distancing and the use of face masks are in play; and (c) how, in microsettings such as health centre appointments in Brazil, the loss of facial expression (Carbon 2020) by the use of face masks is compensated by intonational cues as well as by breaking social distancing orders.
Carbon, Claus Christian. 2020. Wearing face masks strongly confuses counterparts in reading emotions. PsyArXiv, 10 June, 1–23.
Flecha-García, María L. 2010. Eyebrow raises in dialogque and their relation to discourse struture, utterance function and pitch accents in English. Speech Communication 52, 542–554.
Fuchs, Thomas. 2017. Intercorporeality and interaffectivity. In: Meyer, Christian; Streeck, Jürgen; Jordan, J. Scott (eds.), Incorporeality. Emerging socialities in interaction. New York: Oxford University Press, 3–23.
McNeill, David. 1992. Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Meyer, Christian; Streeck, Jürgen; Jordan, J. Scott. 2017. Introduction. In: Meyer, Christian; Streeck, Jürgen; Jordan, J. Scott (eds.). Incorporeality. Emerging socialities in interaction. New York: Oxford University Press, xv–xlix.
Mondada, Lorenza. 2013. Conversation analysis: Talk and bodily resources for the organization of social interaction. In: Müller, Cornelia; Cienki, Alan; Fricke, Ellen; Ladewig, Silva H.; McNeil, David; Bressem, Jana (eds.), Body – language – communication. An international handbook on multimodality in human interaction. Volume 1. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, 218–227.
Ulrike Schröder is Professor of German Studies and Linguistics at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil. She studied Communication, German Studies, and Psychology at the University of Essen, Germany, where she obtained her doctor’s degree (2003) and her Venia Legendi (habilitation) (2012). Her research interests include cognitive and cultural linguistics, gesture studies, intercultural pragmatics, and interactional linguistics.
Anna Ladilova is a Researcher and Lecturer at the Department of Romance Studies at the Justus-Liebig University in Gießen (Germany) where she obtained her PhD (2013) and Venia Lendi (habilitation) (2020). Her research focuses on intercultural communication in interaction, gesture studies, language contact and migration studies
Sineide Gonçalves is a doctorate student at the Linguistics Department of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil. She obtained her Master’s degree in Linguistic Studies at the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP), Brazil. Her research focus is on interactional linguistics and language teaching.
Fernanda Roque Amendoeira is a student of the Master Program for Linguistics and a teacher assistant for the English Department, both at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, where she also obtained her undergraduation degree in German Language and Literature (2018). Her current research focuses on interactional and cultural linguistics.
Author: Axel Volmar (Siegen)
Screen/ing Life: A Twitter-based Data Analysis of the Corona-related Boom in Videoconferencing Apps for Work and Everyday Practices
The presentation examines the social media discourse since the outbreak of the Corona pandemic regarding the increased use of video conferencing apps. The situation of crisis brought about by measures of social distancing has seemingly turned entire societies into “media laboratories:” wherever possible, new software tools to support distributed cooperation and collaboration – and particularly videoconferencing apps – are being explored and appropriated for both work-related and private contexts. In the discourse of social media, not only debates on the effects of the corona crisis can be followed but also documentation and reflections of the many efforts and approaches to infra- and restructuring everyday tasks in times of social distancing. Based on aggregated twitter data that has being collected since March 2020 using the data aggregation and analysis software DMI-TCAT, I present preliminary findings of a data analysis that examines the current transformation processes and the associated debates regarding remote work, distant teaching and remote life based on videoconferencing apps and other tools for remote interaction and cooperation. It will particularly focus on corona-related effects on media and data practices as well as changing relation of infrastructures and public spheres in relation to applications to provide virtual co-presence. I particularly aim to reply to the questions raised in the session outline and intend to further relate the findings of the twitter data analysis to the longer history of videotelephony and videoconferencing.
Axel Volmar is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Collaborative Research Center “Media of Cooperation” at the University of Siegen. His research interests include the history and theory of digital media with links to infrastructures studies and disability studies as well as digital temporalities. His current research project focuses on the histories of audiovisual telecommunications and format studies. Recent publications include „Productive Sounds: Touch-Tone Dialing, the Rise of the Call Center Industry and the Politics of Virtual Voice Assistants“, in: Sudmann, Andreas (Hg.): The Democratization of Artificial Intelligence. Net Politics in the Era of Learning Algorithms (Bielefeld 2019) and Format Matters. Standards, Practices, and Politics in Media Cultures (co-edited with Marek Jancovic and Alexandra Schneider, Lüneburg 2019).
Authors: Beate Ochsner (Konstanz), Tom Bieling (Hamburg), Siegfried Saerberg (Hamburg) and Robert Stock (Konstanz)
Dis/Abling Video Conferences. A Video- and Auto-Ethnographic Exploration of Remote Collaboration Situations
This presentation explores the co-creation of video conferences in times of SARS-CoV-2 to better understand digital communication practices, to think through the question of accessibility and to problematize how media participation of people with varying dis/abilities is produced in situations at work. It will present preliminary thoughts about a project at the Centre for Disability Studies ZeDisplus in Hamburg analyzing the diverse sensory practices within groups of persons with varying disabilities and abilities using digital communications like Zoom Technologies or similar applications. By doing so, we aim to map the challenges of socio-technical assemblages of people, diverse sensory practices and media devices that become even more evident during the pandemic. Tracing the communicative processes and sensory enactments during video conferences with media and auto-ethnographic methods provides us with the possibility of approaching the various dimensions of translation that are at stake in these situations: eye-camera-contacts, spoken words that are being transcribed and appear on screens, shared documents or chat messages read by screen readers, lip reading complicated by low video quality, etc. By assembling people, their social relations, senses and (assistive) devices with varying abilities and disabilities around a data stream, these remote collaboration situations transgress a notion of accessibility limited to a technical dimension. Rather, access is to be understood as a situated assemblage and collaborative process composed of workarounds and improvisations that lay bare the heterogeneous relations of sensory practices, experiences and digital media.
Beate Ochsner is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Konstanz and speaker of the research unit “Media and Participation” where she also heads the project „Techno-sensory processes of participation. App-practices and dis/ability“. Her research interest are audiovisual productions of disability, practices of Non-hearing and Non-seeing, participatory practices and cultures of Teilhabe. Among her recent publications are „Oikos und Oikonomia oder: Selbstsorge-Apps als Technologien der Haushaltung“, in: Internationales Jahrbuch für Medienphilosophie 4 (2018), „Talking about Associations and Descriptions or a Short Story about Associology“, in: Idem./M. Spöhrer (ed.), Applying the Actor-Network Theory in Media Studies, IGI Global 2017 and “Documenting Neuropolitics: Cochlear Implant Activation Videos”, in: H. Hughes/C. Brylla (ed.), Documentary and Disability, Palgrave & MacMillan 2017.
Tom Bieling, postdoc at Zentrum für Designforschung (HAW Hamburg), has been visiting professor at the University of Trento and the German University in Cairo. As a research fellow at the Design Research Lab he was head of the Social Design research cluster at Berlin University of the Arts (2010 – 2019) and TU Berlin (2007 – 2010). In his research he mainly focuses on the social and political dimensions of design, particularly on aspects of inclusion and exclusion. Visiting professorships and teaching assignments for design theory and research worldwide since 2007, as well as numerous publications. Recent books: Inklusion als Entwurf (Birkhäuser/DeGruyter 2019), Design (&) Activism (Mimesis 2019) und Gender (&) Design (Mimesis 2020). www.tombieling.com
Siegfried Saerberg is Professor for Disability Studies and Teilhabeforschung at ZeDisplus. Zentrum für Disability Studies und Teilhabeforschung, Evangelischen Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit & Diakonie. Stiftung Das Rauhe Haus in Hamburg, Germany. Siegfried specializes in Sensory Ethnography, Auto-Ethnographic Approaches, Phenomenology and Disability Studies. He is author of Saerberg, Siegfried. “The Sensorification of the Invisible Science, Blindness and the Life-World.” Science, Technology & Innovation Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2011, 9-28 and “Geradeaus Ist Einfach Immer Geradeaus.” Eine Lebensweltliche Ethnographie Blinder Raumorientierung (UVK 2006).
Robert Stock coordinates the Research Unit ‘Participation and Media. Between Demand and Entitlement’ at the University of Konstanz. He has a Ph.D. in Cultural Studies (2017) from the University of Gießen and holds a Master Degree in European Ethnography from the Humboldt-University of Berlin (2009). His main research interests are digital media and dis/ability, cultural animal studies, and postcolonial memory politics. Together with Christian Meier zu Verl, he directs the scientific network Dis-/Abilities and Digital Media (2020-2022). He is co-editor of Affizierungs- und Teilhabeprozesse zwischen Organismen und Maschinen. (Springer 2020, with B. Ochsner and S. Nikolow) and recently published Singing Altogether Now: Unsettling Images of Disability and Experimental Filmic Practices. In: Documentary and Disability (2017). For more information visit https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2256-0928.
Author: Olga Moskatova (Erlangen)
Networked Screens: The Socio-Technology of Immunization and Cooperative Co-Isolation
In his political philosophy, the Italian Roberto Esposito (2004; 2013) argues that Western societies are characterized by establishing “dispositifs of immunization”—a process interconnected with modernity itself. Drawing on the etymology of munus, Esposito foregrounds the aporetic relationship between community and immunity leading to an understanding of biopolitical immunization as essentially a process of negating community, eliminating social contamination, contagion and contact (all aligned with the touch as a sense of proximity), and, thus, of individualizing and even isolating. His diagnosis seems to become ever more relevant and pertinent during the Corona crisis, which globally restructured whole societal life according to the logic of threat and protection, contamination and isolation in the form of domestic confinement and social distancing. However, in contrast to Peter Sloterdijk’s spherological theory of immunization (1998; 1999; 2004), Esposito does not think about the role of media in the process of immunization and within the “dispositifs of immunization.” And although Sloterdijk’s understanding of immunization is not biopolitical, the sociohistorical process of producing individualized protected interiorities is at the core of his concept, too. In my talk, I propose to combine both philosophical perspectives in order to discuss the role of networked screens as media of immunization and cooperative co-isolation. During the Corona crisis, we found ourselves not only confined to domestic spaces (spaces of immunization sui generis, cf. Sloterdijk 2004), but also glued to networked screens such as computer, smart tv, tablets and smartphones more than ever. Due to politics of social distance and lockdown, our private and professional lives become reoriented towards screens, necessitating to intensify digital forms of collaborative and cooperative social practices. With this, the etymological, media archaeological and media theoretical understandings of screens as both protective shields and windows, barriers and filters (cf. Friedberg 2006; Huhtamo 2004; Strauven 2012) become actualized. Following the media theoretical approach that Erkki Huhtamo called “screenology” (2006), as the study of screens instead of images, I will elaborate on current screens’ double operativity of simultaneously shielding us from the world and by selectively enabling sociality and cooperation. Thus, screens function both as a means of ego-logical immunitas (isolation, protection, physical distancing, algorithmic filtering and bubblization) and communitas (re-socialization, collaborative togetherness, reestablishing contact). This way, networked screens mediate a form of sociality and the topology of social-technical relations which can be termed “co-isolation” (cf. Sloterdijk 2004).
Olga Moskatova is Assistant Professor for Media Studies at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Between 2012 and 2018 she worked as Media Studies researcher and lecturer at the IKKM Weimar and Bauhaus University Weimar. Her main research fields include theory and aesthetics of analogue and digital visual media, materiality of media, and philosophy of relations. Selected publications: Male am Zelluloid. Zum relationalen Materialismus im kameralosen Film (Bielefeld: transcript 2019); Images on the Move: Materiality – Networks – Formats (Bielefeld: transcript 2021).
Authors: Wesley Shrum (Baton Rouge)
Locative Fear and Pandemics: Responses to COVID-19
The role of social and political contexts in shaping responses to disease agents is investigated through preliminary results of a ten-country study of the global pandemic of COVID-19. Our team is collecting qualitative and quantitative information on groups selected for their importance to pandemic processes (transmission and treatment of information and infectious agents): nurses, teachers, the informal sector, the unemployed, and recovered COVID-19 patients. The countries selected for inclusion are a combination of those included in our previous studies of Ebola (Ghana, Kenya, India, US) and Zika (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico) as well as one European location (Czech Republic). We examine (1) sources of information about COVID-19 transmission and risk; (2) factors that impact the credibility of sources; (3) levels of knowledge and preparation; (4) fears relevant to the current situation; (5) indicators of mental health such as anxiety and depression. Our working hypothesis is that COVID-19 is similar to Ebola in terms of locative fear, while similar to Zika in terms of its lived experience for most who contract the disease. Our perspective is based on a paper just published in Social Studies of Science. We argue that that locative fear (including fear of empty spaces and asymptomatic persons) is the essence of modern global epidemics. Epidemics have traditionally been viewed as the widespread occurrence of infectious disease within a community, or sudden increase above what is typical. But modern epidemics are both more and less than the diffusion of viral entities. We argue that epidemics are fire objects generating locative fears through encounters that focus attention on entities that are unseen and unknown, imagined imprecisely, transforming spaces and humans into indeterminate dangers, alternating appearance and absence.
Wesley Shrum is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Video Ethnography Laboratory at Louisiana State University. He has served as Program Officer of the Society for Social Studies of Science, organizing their annual meetings since 1987. He founded and directs the Ethnografilm festival in Paris, France, now in its seventh year.
Authors: Kenan Hochuli, Johanna Jud, Alexandra Zoller and Heiko Hausendorf (Zurich)
Across technical and material barriers: The human drive for interaction
The human need for social interaction has suffered greatly in recent months. Interactional spaces routinely created for the performance of joint activities (Mondada 2009) were suspected of being ‘infectional spaces’. Instead, a series of material, technical, but also social obstacles were set up with the aim of keeping human sociality on tracks – and above all: at a certain distance. As we would like to show in our paper, however, one thing in particular became clear during the Covid 19 pandemic: the human creativity in overcoming such obstacles is enormous and bears witness to a fundamental need for social encounter. Using data from university lectures, church services and shops, we show on a microsocial level how people manage to interact with each other despite technical and material barriers. In this context, we focus also on online solutions that should have functioned as a substitute for the original events. Our data show the situation both during the lockdown in Switzerland as well as the phase of re-normalisation that followed. Our paper not only gives cause for discussion of a phenomenon we would like to call ‘Interaktionssehnsucht’ (the longing for interaction). It is also groundbreaking for the discussion of the importance of social encounters in built as well as digital space.
Mondada, Lorenza (2009): Emergent focused interactions in public places: A systematic analysis of the multimodal achievement of a common interactional space. Journal of Pragmatics 41, Issue 10, pp. 1977-1997.
Biographical note: We are part of the research within the SNSF project on “Interaction and Architecture“, which is based both at the Department for German Studies and the University Priority Program ‘Language and Space’ at the University of Zurich. In our project we address the significance of space in institutional settings. In view of the changing situation in the field, we have focused on social interactions under ‘corona conditions’ right from the start of the project in April 2020.
Authors: Julia Katila (Tampere)
Multisensorial Practices of Intimacy and Affect in Video-Messages between a Romantic Couple
Previous research in the social sciences has shown that haptic interaction rituals are critical for initiating and maintaining social relationships(Katila, Gan, Goodwin,2020). However, there are circumstances in which participants in an intimate relationship may not be able to be with each other in person for a longer period of time, as when significant physical distance between them prevents this. As a result, forms of mediated intimacy – multisensorial practices for ‘touching from a distance’ (Fulkerson, 2012), are locally adopted tonurture and sustainthe social relationship. I adopt video-analysis to explore expressions of affection in the exchange of video-messages between a romantic couple. Drawing on previous studies which has revealed practices for displaying intimacy from a distance between parents and children (Gan, Greiffenhagen, and Reeves, 2020), and those which have studied the lamination of affective tone of voice with haptic contact in intimate co-present encounters among family members(Goodwin and Cekaite, 2018), I will analyzethe participants’ embodied performances of intimacy in their video-message exchanges. I will focus on how affective and intimate qualia – signals that materialize phenomenally in human activity as sensuous qualities, such as sound shapes, warmth, gentleness (Harkness, 2015) – unfold through the co-occurrence of various multisensorial practices, such as creaky tone of voice, compassionate facial expressions, tender haptic gestures, and words of affection. The data consist of 22 video-messages between two participants who began dating just before the COVID-19 quarantine in the US began. After meeting, they became separated across state lines because of travel restrictions resulting from the quarantine. By investigating the moment-by-moment unfolding of the affective practices in an intimate relationship under these circumstances, I reveal how forms of intimacy traditionally experienced in person through touch and intercorporeally are transformed into aurally and visually mediated forms of affection.
Fulkerson M (2012) Touch Without Touching. Philosophers‘ Imprint 12(5): 1–15.
Gan YM, Greiffenhagen C and Reeves S (2020) Connecting distributed families: Camera work for three-party mobile video calls. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’20). New York: ACM.
Goodwin MH and A Cekaite (2018) Embodied Family Choreography: Practices of Control, Care, and Mundane Creativity. Oxford and New York: Routledge.
HarknessN (2015) The Pragmatics of Qualia in Practice. Annual Review of Anthropology 44:573–89.
Julia Katilahas a background in social psychology and has done work in the fields of affect studies, ethnomethodology, phenomenology, and interaction research. Her main area of interest is in microanalytic studies of multisensorial and intercorporeal forms of human sociality,and her current research focuses on the intersections between affect, and touch in health care encounters.
Session Host: Sam Hind
Virtual roundtable discussion with Tomás Sánchez Criado (Berlin), Adolfo Estalella (Madrid), Magdalena Götz (Siegen), Danny Lämmerhirt (Siegen), Andreas Sudmann (Bonn), Anna Lisa Ramella (Köln), Asli Telli (Siegen), Daniela van Geenen (Siegen), Martin Zillinger (Köln)
Pandemic Attuning: Methodological Challenges and Provocations from the Field
In this session, participants from various academic backgrounds and research contexts will reflect on how the corona pandemic has influenced their research practices, as well as invited novel ways of engaging and ‘interfacing’ with their fields and case studies. How could one attune to shifting research circumstances? How did the pandemic change research sites and what unexpected and productive openings did this bring about?
The main purpose of this session is to not only open up conversations on common challenges, but also unprecedented shifts in research. These may range from difficulties to accessing the field (temporarily), to ways of finding alternative entry points to our case studies, reflections on how our subjects ‘went remote’ changed the field of study, as well as broader conceptual and methodological reflections on how to work ethnographically without physical presence.
For the session, we build on examples drawn from studying data practices in citizen sensing projects in the Netherlands, data donations supporting Germany’s public health responses, life in the Kenyan Rift Valley, data practices and critical knowledge arising from grassroots initiatives, the operations of an AI startup launching a fitness app during the pandemic, engagements with a Telegram-based messaging, and feminist artistic interventions attuning to the pandemic by using social media platforms.
Tomás Sánchez Criado is Senior Researcher at the Chair of Urban Anthropology, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His interests lie at the crossroads of anthropology and STS, developing ethnographic and public engagement work around urban knowledge politics in a wide variety of settings where care is invoked as a domain or a particular mode of design intervention: such as, independent-living services or technologies, accessibility infrastructures, and more generally inclusive forms of city-making related to issues like the housing, climate, environmental pollution or interspecies relations crises.
Adolfo Estalella is Assistant Professor (Profesor Ayudante Doctor) at the Department of Social Anthropology and Social Psychology Department, Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). His research interests follow three topics threaded by a common issue: the investigation of the epistemic transformations of our contemporary taking place in the city, the Internet, and anthropology itself. He is investigating practices of city-making of citizen and activist groups, focussing on practices of material intervention, documentary production and legal invention.
Magdalena Götz is a PhD researcher at the DFG Graduate School “Locating Media” at the University of Siegen. Her research focuses on the interrelations between queer/feminist art, digital mobile media and affective infrastructures. She has a background in art, media, and museum studies. As a curator, art mediator, editor, and project manager, she worked, among others, at Ars Electronica, Art Museum Celle, and Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art.
Sam Hind is research associate in the DFG Collaborative Research Centre 1187 “Media of Cooperation” at the University of Siegen. His research currently concerns sensor-based navigation as part of the ‘Navigation in Online/Offline Spaces’ project. He previously received his PhD in the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies at the University of Warwick, UK. His research interests include digital navigation, mapping practices and mobility.
Danny Lämmerhirt is a new media and STS scholar studying how publics use data to raise issues, the effects of participatory methods on knowledge production, and the social lives of data. Currently he is a PhD candidate at the DFG-Graduate School “Locating Media” at the University of Siegen. His dissertation examines the valuation strategies of personal health data sharing platforms as well as various epistemic, ethical, economic, and cultural challenges this may bring about. He held research positions at the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Fraunhofer Society, and the University of Amsterdam.
Andreas Sudmann is a media scholar and AI researcher at the university of Bonn. He is the author of several books, edited collections, and essays in the field of media and digital culture studies, including, most recently, The Democratization of Artificial Intelligence. Net Politics in the Era of Learning Algorithms (Columbia University Press/ Transcript 2019), “Games and Artificial Intelligence” (Special Issue of Eludamos. Journal for Computer Game Culture Vol. 10 (2019), forthcoming, and “Artificial Intelligences” (“Künstliche Intelligenzen“), German Journal for Media Studies (Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft) Vol. 21 (2019).
Anna Lisa Ramella and Martin Zillinger are anthropologists at the University of Cologne. Martin holds a professorship in Anthropology and is Principal Investigator of the Global South Studies Center (GSSC) and the subproject “Testing Future – Cross-scalar linkages as coping strategies for socio-economic exclusion“ of the CRC “Future Rural Africa“, in which Anna Lisa works as a postdoctoral researcher. Their fieldwork takes place in the Kenyan Rift Valley, where they research with audiovisual methods the strategies of future-making among migrants from western Kenya by engaging in sectors such as fishing, agricultural labor and tourism.
Asli Telli is a researcher of media and communications. Before coming to Germany as a Research Associate at “Locating Media” GRK (University of Siegen) in 2017, she performed field research and trained college students as well as adult learners in the US, Switzerland, Malta and Turkey. Her current fields of interest include exile knowledge workers as collaborative commons, digital platforms for dissent action and diaspora politics.
Daniela van Geenen is a PhD candidate at the DFG Graduate School “Locating Media” (University of Siegen). Daniela investigates ‘critical data practice’ in the context of sensor-based technologies and sensing infrastructures that make accessible and/or govern everyday life. In past research projects, she studied social media as spaces for debate and cultural production leading to publications in First Monday and M/CJournal. Building on these experiences, her recent publications tackle the (scholarly) conduct that the work with and design of digital methods and tools demands in the context of critical data and device studies.