Webinar: New Tools for ‘Distanced’ Anthropological Research: Webscraping and Ethnography of Digital Cultures in/of Africa

On February 15th, 16th and 25th the Wenner-Gren Foundation is sponsoring a series of webinars entitled, New Tools for ‘Distanced’ Anthropological Research: Webscraping and Ethnography of Digital Cultures in/of Africa, organized by Serena Stein, Wageningen University & Research, and Louisa Lombard, Yale University.

This event is a Webinar Tutorial on Webscraping for researchers and students with little prior
experience, and a Roundtable on Digital Ethnography about Africa and by African scholars.

Part I: The Webinar will introduce beginners to the possibilities of webscraping as a tool for
digital research. How can webscraping help launch a research project, complement in-person fieldwork, and triangulate findings? What are limitations and technical, analytical, and ethical concerns? The tutorial presumes no prior experience in webscraping, and will use ethnographic-friendly examples. This will be led by Kevin McElwee of the Princeton University Center for Digital Humanities.

Part II: The Roundtable convenes an exciting group of researchers and scholars on African digital cultures and social media, including the technological, regulatory, political, ethical, and cultural context of African digital lives as people access and innovate online.

To register for these events please click the links below:

February 15th 11:00 AM (EST) – Register here.

Februrary 16th 11:00 AM (EST) – Register here.

February 25th 5:00 PM (EST) – Register here.

FEATURED SPEAKERS

Julie Soleil Archambault, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Concordia
University

Bio: Julie Soleil Archambault is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology in the
Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University. She received her
PhD in Anthropology for the School of Oriental and African Studies (U. of London), and
is the author of Mobile Secrets: Youth, Intimacy and the Politics of Pretense in
Mozambique (2017). She recently completed a project on the political and affective
economies of cement in Mozambique, and is currently working on a book project on the
anthropology of sweat. She is also co-editor of AFRICA: Journal of the International
African Institute.

Jess Auerbach, Department of Social Anthropology, North-West University, South
Africa

Bio: Jess Auerbach is the author of From Water to Wine: Becoming Middle Class in
Angola. She is Program Director for the School of Social Sciences at North West
University, and writes regularly for public media around the world. She is currently
working on two book projects, Conscripted Communalism which explores ethnicity and
politics in Mauritius, and Everyday Kindness, a popular book on how South Africans
have supported one another through the Covid-19 pandemic. She holds a PhD from
Stanford University.

Chambi Chachage, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS),
Princeton University

Bio: Chambi Chachage (@Udadisi) is the African Humanities Postdoctoral Research
Associate and Lecturer at Princeton University where he teaches a course on Health,
Race, and Power in Africa in the Digital Age. He is the coeditor, with Annar Cassam, of
a book on Africa’s Liberation: The Legacy of Nyerere and an article on From Citizenship
to Netizenship: Blogging for social change in Tanzania. He is also a founding blogger of
Udadisi and history editor of The Africa I Know (TAIK).

Nicky Falkof, Department of Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand

Bio: Nicky Falkof (@barbrastrident) is an Associate Professor of Media Studies at the
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. She has a PhD in Humanities and
Cultural Studies from the London Consortium, University of London. She is the author of
The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in Late Apartheid South Africa
(2015), and co-editor of Anxious Joburg: The Inner Lives of a Global South City (2020)
and Intimacy and Injury: In the Wake of #MeToo in India and South Africa (forthcoming
2021). Her work focuses on race, anxiety and the media in the urban global south.

Divine Fuh, HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa, University of Cape Town

Bio: Divine Fuhis a social anthropologist from Cameroon, and Director of HUMA –
Institute for Humanities Africa at the University of Cape Town. His research focuses on
the politics of suffering and smiling, particularly on how urban youth seek ways of
smiling in the midst of their suffering. He has carried out research in Cameroon,
Botswana, South Africa and Senegal. His new research focuses on AI and the ethics of
being; and on the political economy of Pan-African knowledge production.

Larissa Kojoue, African Studies Center, Leiden University

Bio: Larissa Kojoué is a Cameroonian based researcher in political science and assistant
lecturer in political studies at the University of Buea Cameroon. She is a research
associate at the University of Paris/IRD/CEPED. Research areas include: Health public
policies, State and citizenship, digital cultures, gender, sexualities and human rights. She
is the author of “Tu seras Docteur.e mon enfant. African PHD student Experiences and
Research perspectives:” https://www.editions-harmattan.fr/index.asp?navig=catalogue&obj=livre&no=58274. Her current work focuses on Digital cultures, gender, sexuality and power dynamics in Contemporary Cameroon.

Sibel Kusimba, Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida

Bio: Sibel Kusimba is an anthropologist at the University of South Florida. She has conducted anthropological and archaeological fieldwork in Kenya on topics ranging from inter-ethnic cooperation, to leadership, to environmental change, to the origins of trade. Since 2012 she has explored the impact of digital money and digital finance in Kenya. Her book Reimagining Money: Kenya in the Digital Finance Revolution explores digital money in Kenya, a leading site for financial technology. The book describes the myriad new uses and practices with digital money, including e-money transfer, digital loans, and crowdfunding. Professor Kusimba’s mobile money research has also been published in the peer-reviewed journals Information Technology in International Development, The African Studies Review, and Economic Anthropology. Her work is also featured in an IMTFI video and a webinar Wednesday through the American Anthropological Association. She has spoken to The East African, The Voice of America, and Business Daily Africa about mobile money in Kenya and her research has been featured in Next Billion.

Azeb Madebo, Communication, University Southern California

Bio: Azeb Madebo is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Southern California’s
Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her research interests and work
have centered topics regarding development, civic imagination and networked
mobilization in Ethiopia and its diaspora. Her dissertation fieldwork and research, funded
by USC’s Graduate School Research Enhancement Fellowship, will consider the
relationship between imagination, civic engagement, technology (social media), and
discourses of futurity within Ethiopia.

Dani Madrid-Morales, University of Houston

Bio: Dani Madrid-Morales (@DMadrid_M) is an assistant professor of journalism at the
Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, University of Houston. He studies global
political communication (State-sponsored news, political mis/disinformation, social
media use), with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. He teaches courses on
media and globalization, quantitative research methods, and international mass
communication at the University of Houston, and computational text analysis at National
University of Singapore. Dani is currently working on developing an live multilingual
database of African digital news content for text mining.

Kevin McElwee, Research Software Developer, Princeton University Center for Digital
Humanities

Bio:At the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University, Kevin is a programmer
helping professors and graduate students with their data-driven research. He’s also
building algorithms and neural networks that mimic artists, like Bach and Mondrian,
exploring how artificial intelligence will challenge what we value in art and researching
how automation can be used as a source of inspiration. Before Princeton, he worked in
the energy sector, building machine learning models that increase efficiency on the
electrical grid. He freelances as a data journalist.

Cierra Robson, Harvard University

Bio: Cierra Robson is the Associate Director of the Ida B. Wells JUST Data Lab at
Princeton University where she guides research teams in partnership with community
organizations to explore how data can be retooled for racial justice. Additionally, Cierra
is a doctoral student in the Sociology and Social Policy program at Harvard University
where she is a Malcolm Hewitt Wiener PhD Research Fellow in Poverty and Justice.
Broadly, her research explores the ways in which technological advancements both
reinforce and revolutionize racial inequality in the United States, particularly within the
criminal justice system. She holds a BA in African American Studies from Princeton
University, where she specialized in studies of race and public policy and pursued a
minor in Technology and Society.

Carmeliza Rosário, Social and Development Anthropology, University of
Bergen

Bio: Carmeliza is a social and development anthropologist with a focus on women and
vulnerable groups. She is a PhD candidate at University of Bergen and associate
researcher at Kaleidoscopio. Her current research interests are knowledge production in
and on Mozambique. Together with researchers at Kaleidoscopio, she has been
monitoring social media regarding political and social commentary. She is also an
associate researcher affiliated with CMI, where she is part of the project “Political
determinants of sexual and reproductive health: Criminalisation, health impacts and game
changers.” As part of this project the research team has conducted webscraping for news
and articles in the media around abortion and LGBT issues.

Alette Schoon, senior lecturer at the School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University

Bio: Alette’s research projects include producing inserts for SABC2 on culture and development, educating and training professional journalists in new approaches to TV News and exploring the impact of mobile media. Previous research explored how media-savvy hip-hop artists from low-income neighbourhoods use their mobile phones in conjunction with computers and laptops to produce innovative media ecologies.

Wendy Willems, Associate Professor, Deputy Head of Department, Department of Media and Communications, The London School of Economics and Political Science

Bio: Wendy Willems also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Global Media and Communications (LSE and University of Cape Town). Her research expertise includes global digital culture and social change; urban communication; postcolonial/decolonial approaches to media and communication; popular culture; performance and politics in Africa; media culture and neoliberalism in the Global South.

ORGANIZERS

Serena Stein, Sociology of Development & Change and Rural Sociology, Wageningen
University & Research

Bio: Serena is an anthropologist and researcher at Wageningen University & Research in
The Netherlands. She is preparing a manuscript called Kindred Frontiers based on
research following smallholder farmers and socioecological changes during Brazil’s drive
for agribusiness expansion in Mozambique over the past decade. New projects examine
evidentiary and racial politics around carbon sequestration in soil and regenerative
farming movements; multimedia approaches to commodity frontiers; and a study of
farmers in the United States in the pandemic. Serena is co-organizer of the Mangrove
CoLAB, supported by the SSRC’s Indian Ocean Transregional Collaboratory, which
brings together Mozambican and Indian scholars and practitioners to investigate linkages
in extraction, agrarian change and coastal restoration across the Global South.

Louisa Lombard, Department of Anthropology, Yale University

Bio: Louisa Lombard is an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University. She
conducts ethnographic and historical research on conflict, peacebuilding and
peacekeeping, rebellion, access to justice/rule of law, migration, and conservation,
primarily in Central Africa. She is the author of two solo-authored monographs, State of
Rebellion: Violence and Intervention in the Central African Republic (Zed/Chicago,
2016) and Hunting Game: Politics in the Central African Interior (Cambridge, 2020).
She is currently working on three research projects: a study of violence and religion in
sub-Saharan Africa; a comparative study of the experiences of Central African migrants
and refugees within Central Africa and in Greece, and a study of how military
peacekeepers charged with protecting civilians in the midst of violent conflict understand
their work and the moral dilemmas it entails.

While Wenner-Gren is proud to be providing a platform for this event, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Foundation.