Matthew Durington, Samuel Gerald Collins, and the 2014 Anthropology by the Wire Collective Games Without Frontiers: App Design as Networked Anthropology
Imagine the following possible scenario for a student enrolled in our urban anthropology field school course, “Life in the City,” using a mobile application. They are asked on the first day of class to download the app for the course. The app contains access to all of the multimedia and ethnographic archival material on multiple sites in urban Baltimore produced by students and us in previous research iterations. An essential exercise in conducting ethnographic research is to go “into the field.” While the traditional anthropologist would pitch their proverbial tent for an extended time for participant observation, this is not realistic to ask for a semester-long class (although we have always been impressed with students that have attempted to do so). So, how to facilitate a place-based engagement? Rather than meeting on a corner in south Baltimore on a Saturday morning to be led on a walking tour of a historic AfricanAmerican neighborhood (a task that always leaves many students out due to lack of attention, work, or other obligations), students are told that they will need to unlock four stages in their new anthropology app by the third week of the semester on their own time. They are given the initial site they must visit to begin using the application. Their job as fledgling urban anthropologists is to understand what has come before them, and supplement it with their own work and engagement. This does two things simultaneously: it shows that anthropological fieldwork is never static and that communities are never ossified, but constantly changing. Matthew Durington, Samuel Gerald Collins, and the 2014 Anthropology by the Wire Collective, “Games without Frontiers: App Design as Networked Anthropology” in Participatory Visual and Digital Research in Action, Aline Gubrium, Krista Harper, and Marty Otañez, eds., pp. 259-276. © 2015 Left Coast Press, Inc. All rights reserved.