I would argue that the unhappy academics were creating and adding to what I described in my thesis as affective swirls of discontent, and that they were doing this as a means of bonding, or collective self-comforting. Anthropologist Nigel Thrift (2004), in discussing spatial affect, might argue that these swirls gather momentum, affecting the moods and feelings of others as they circulate. As they get translated into different, perhaps more durable contexts — such as via technologies like online chat and email — the affect begins to bed down into the objects (such as emails, or policies), as well as into the humans, strengthening the network and the feelings of discontent further. This is where collective trauma may become an apt description.
On this month's panel episode, digital anthropologist Dr Stephanie Betz (5:50) discusses “deepfakes”. It's been possible to doctor images to a very high degree of believability for a long time - Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, was fooled by fake images of two young girls playing in their garden with a community of fairies back in 1917! But deepfake technologies are now making it possible to create fake video footage so realistic that it's almost impossible to detect with the naked eye, and so easy to create that all you need is a smart phone. How will society adapt to these changes?
This month, Ian (1:12) asks how we should engage when people describe their culture one way, but our observations of their behavior don’t match those descriptions. What is a “culture,” Ian asks, if its members don’t adhere to it? As Julia argues, “what people say is just as important in their cultural imaginary of who … Continue reading Ep. #12 Cultural imaginaries, deepfake videos, hatred in anth, & social dissociation: this month on TFS