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The Playlist

The Playlist
19 Russell Street, Room AP330
Time: Mar 23rd, 5:00 pm End: Mar 23rd, 6:30 pm
Interest Categories: Ethnography, Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-

The Department of Anthropology Ethnography Lab Workshop Series presents

The Playlist

Workshop Facilitator: Jacob Nerenberg, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Playlists-sequences of songs-are a routine interface for the use of information and communication machines. What kind of data are playlists? How can ethnographers interpret technologically assembled, affectively charged sound sequences? Thinking about playlists as artifacts involves considering how they come into being, what the relations between their elements symbolize, and how they capture collective moments. A genealogy of playlists calls forth histories of recording industries and playback technologies in relation to nations, regions, languages, and styles. It involves the materiality of storage and transmission-mixtapes, SD cards, Bluetooth, or individualized streaming services. In this session I present a playlist copied from the mobile phone of a youth consultant in the highlands of West Papua. It exemplifies the region's characteristic eclecticism, including contemporary American R&B, Indonesian pop, and European techno. The most frequent style is the reggae- and country-inflected pop of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. There are also local productions that mimic this broader Melanesian style, or that layer customary forms and electronic sounds. I briefly interpret the associations of these styles with reference to the region's recent experience as an end-point in circuits of commodities and political power. I focus on two songs that were particularly popular and evocative at the moment of fieldwork. I invite participants to propose alternative methods by drawing on their own research and experiences.

This event is free an open to all. Registration is not required. For further information, please contact Jessika Tremblay at ethnography.lab@utoronto.ca

The Ethnography Lab is excited to launch its 2016-2017 Workshop Series. This year, the series will focus on experimenting with different techniques for interpreting ethnographic data. Once primary data has been gathered in the field, every ethnographer must grapple with deciding which techniques are best suited to analyzing it before it can be included in a monograph, dissertation, or other published work. Most ethnographers don’t hesitate to spend hours pouring over field-notes, listening to audio recordings, or scrawling the perfect ethnographic vignette to tell a story about their data. But what actually happens between the gathering of that data and its transformation into abstracted, anthropological analysis, is often a mystery.

This workshop series, entitled Ethnographic Objects: Materialities and Meanings, is designed as a collective experimentation with different ways of interpreting the ethnographic object. Each workshop will center around one particular kind of ethnographic object that is commonly encountered in the field: the video interview, the mystical object, the selfie, the music playlist, the Facebook post, and others. Presenters will spend time contextualizing the object within their own field-work experiences, after which participants will be invited to join in the “workshopping” of different techniques to arrive at creative ways of analyzing their meaning. The objective of this series is to encourage critical and active thinking about the processes that are involved in transforming primary data into an anthropological product.

Located in the University of Toronto Department of Anthropology, the Ethnography Lab strives to encourage dynamic discussion and experimentation with the various ways in which ethnography is practiced and imagined.

Join us in the Ethnography Lab Seminar Room, located in the Anthropology Building, room 330, on select Thursdays from 5-6:30pm for stimulating discussion.

This series is FREE and OPEN to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Contact Jessika Tremblay at ethnography.lab@utoronto.ca for more information.

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