SSSWARM Seminar Series | ‘Proper’ ethnographic fieldwork in the digital age: Ambitions, experiences and lessons from rural Norway | Tom Bratrud
SSSWARM Seminar Series
‘Proper’ ethnographic fieldwork in the digital age:
Ambitions, experiences and lessons from rural Norway
Speaker: Tom Bratrud
Room 441, Social Sciences Building, A02 and Zoom
This presentation discusses methodological lessons from my recent ethnographic fieldwork on digitalised everyday life in rural Norway. Aiming to grasp the fundamental principles and dynamics of everyday social life in the digital age, the research has included fieldwork in offline as well as online domains – trying to trace the connections between them. The ambition with this approach has been to take seriously the ‘holistic’ ideal I have been trained in as part of my Melanesian village studies and use it in a digitalised social context. However, as in most fieldwork situations, real life experience diverges from what one has planned beforehand. In the talk, I will reflect upon my methodological ambitions, the challenges I encountered and how I constantly had to reshape my approach and personal engagement with the field. The aim of the talk is to contribute to the discussion on how to do ‘proper’ ethnographic fieldwork across online and offline contexts in a time when digital technology is ubiquitous and the offline and online cannot easily be separated but make up one blended field.
Tom Bratrud is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo. He was a visiting visiting scholar at the Bergen Pacific Studies Research Group in 2016 and has collaborated with the group since planning his MA fieldwork in 2009.
Bratrud has conducted a total of 20 months of anthropological research in Vanuatu since 2010, mainly on Ahamb Island in Malekula. His work deals with values, social life and political dynamics.
Bratrud’s monograph Fire on the Island: Fear, Hope and a Christian Revival in Vanuatu (published in 2022 by Berghahn Books) examines a startling Christian revival that developed on Ahamb in 2014 in the wake of enduring political disputes. The revival was led by around 30 children with spiritual vision and had as its aim to move society away from capriciousness and sin into the divine will of God. The revival had a dramatic turn when two men, claimed to be sorcerers and responsible for the island community’s problems, were killed. The book’s main theoretical contribution is how fear and hope are powerful emotional experiences working together to mobilize people who are longing for change. For more information, visit https://pacific.w.uib.no/people/current-group-members/tom-bratrud/.
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