Institute of European Ethnology
Protest 2.0 - A cyberanthropological ethnography of contemporary online protest focusing on the example of the phenomenon "Anonymous"
The "Digitalization" of the world does not only concern the fields of economics, working culture or media consumption and production. In the context of political participation the incessantly growing access to communication and information technology also produces impulses for new or transformed possibilities and modes of protest. New practices, spaces and places develop, zeros and ones reshuffle our familiar environment and an at first glance chaotic and amorphous system of meanings, practices, actors and identities arises on our screens if we choose to look and listen. It is the task of several academic disciplines to perceive and identify structural importance in the world German Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel called "Neuland" - a terra incognita. This dissertation project is focused on one aspect of cyber-culture and is dedicated to researching contemporary online-related protest. Alongside a constitutive and thick description of the phenomenon following the exemplary field of context "Anonymous", the thesis will answer questions about the coactions of technology and culture (of protest), deconstruct categorical dichotomies like online-offline, virtual-real or global-local and produce emic analytical tools and theory. Next to this field based approach and its analysis the project will generate new ways of adapting established methods for their use in the context of online ethnography and highlight unforeseen, field specific, ethical conflicts. As cyberanthropology is not yet part of the "mainstream" this project helps establishing it as a field in cultural and anthropological science. To achieve this the project is based on the principle of Multi-Sited-Ethnography with a maximum of micro perspective fieldwork that lays the foundation for exact analysis and in an additional step reasonable holistic deduction. The aim is to not only describe and understand the exemplary phenomenon "Anonymous" and via pars pro toto online protest but to offer relevant insight into the relationship between humans and technology. Something those who have seen The Matrix or similar movies will certainly approve of.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Johannes Moser