A self-portrait of the anthropologist as a young Instagrammer: the selfie taker’s second self as performative praxis and methodological tool

Joshua Bluteau

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Short Abstract

This paper explores self-portraiture as a methodological tool to be used by researchers on platforms such as Instagram. Drawing on findings from a period of digital fieldwork, this paper suggests that high frequency digital users fundamentally alter their habitus, and in the process craft a second digital self

Long Abstract

This paper questions how digital culture effects the performance of the self, through an exploration of digital self-portraiture as both ethnographic tool and anthropological method. Using data gathered from an extensive period of digital fieldwork, a reinterpretation of Goffman’s iconic (1956) work through the lens of a digitised modernity will be suggested – calling for an assessment of: the presentation of second self in everyday digital life. This notion of second self will naturally draw on the work of Turkle (1984), but also the work of Kondo (1990) to question whether the reality of habitual interactions with the digital world is the creation of a second self or the crafting of multiple digital selves. With this conversation established, this paper will move to a more specific discussion regarding the habitus of both researcher and interlocuter – where both are high frequency users of platforms such as Instagram. Particularly if the primary media of interaction is the (re)production of digital-image based self-portraiture. In a fieldsite such as this is it reasonable to pursue traditional ethnographic methods or must new methodologies be trialled? The findings of this fieldwork suggest that digital selves have the ability to acquire agency in their own right, and exert this power over the initial self that crafted them. If this is the case then the performance of digital selves needs to be reinterpreted, not merely as a photographic publication, but as an agential waymarker which can be viewed through the semi-permeable cartography of the digitised landscape: smartphone screens.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2020
EventAnthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future - Online event
Duration: 14 Sep 202018 Sep 2020

Conference

ConferenceAnthropology and Geography: Dialogues Past, Present and Future
Period14/09/2018/09/20

Keywords

  • Social Anthropology
  • Social Media
  • Instagram
  • Digital Anthropology
  • Ethnography
  • Self Making
  • Self Portraiture
  • Performance
  • Digital Cuture

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