aging and life course
digital and virtual anthropology
This conversation will bring to the meeting Professor Danny Miller (Univ College London), director of a newly completed multisited global ethnography study, the Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing (ASSA - https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/assa/about/), and two post-doctoral researchers from the project, Xinyuan Wang and Charlotte Hawkins. The project consists of simultaneous 16-month field-based ethnographies conducted in ten field sites across the globe, from February 2018 to June 2019, focusing on mid-age and older adults. Smartphones and other digital technologies are now central to the experience of older people, whether in terms of accessing information about health, socializing with others, or organizing their lives during retirement. The researchers also explored how generational understanding and use of smartphones, especially for accessing health information and enabling translocal systems of care might be impacted by inequality. Smartphones are equally important in creating a new form of collaborative and comparative anthropology which will be represented by the eleven volumes the project is publishing. The conversation will be moderated by Maria Cattell and Jay Sokolovsky who have each logged in over 4 decades of traditional ethnographic research with Sokolovsky having recently published one of the first multimedia enabled ethnographies. In the midst of rapidly transforming translocal and transnational engagement of generations this conversation ultimately explores three grand issues: 1. As a successor to the global “Project A.G.E.” (Age, Generation and Experience), carried out in the 1980s, how does the ASSA Project move forward a comparative, cross-cultural understanding of older adulthood in the 21st Century? 2. Can the methodological efforts of the ASSA project properly transcend what Gabriele de Seta calls “the three lies of digital ethnography”? These are: illusions of the networked field-weaver, the eager participant-lurker and the expert fabricator. 3. How do the methods of the ASSA project inform anthropology about the possibilities of fieldwork and research dissemination in the age of COVID?