UGEC2665 The Culture of Cyberspace

Course UGEC2665 The Culture of Cyberspace | Course Outline
Class Time 14:30–17:15; Tue, Wed, Thur
Class Location YIA 402
Teacher Dr. Kevin LATHAM

Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology,

Department of Anthropology and Sociology, SOAS, University of London

Visiting Scholar, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Email kl1@soas.ac.uk
Teaching Assistant Ms. Yiho LEE (Email: yiholee@cuhk.edu.hk; Tel.: 3943-8724)

 

Course Description
This course addresses the ways in which interactions in cyberspace have become a central element in the everyday lives of humans across the globe in the 21st Century. Contemporary modern life can be regarded as digital culture, but also as mobile, networked, visual, and cyborg culture. The course approaches the anthropology of cyberspace by addressing the main themes– social research online, the social issues of online lives, and the question of posthumanism. These themes are addressed explicitly in the course, and are also the subtexts of the different lectures, readings, and project work. Students will learn the techniques of online fieldwork and referencing. They will explore a diverse array of new ethnographies on social media, online dating, political movements, and gaming culture. These ethnographies also serve to model online social research and provide examples of methodology and design. The social consequences of cyberspace are addressed in the topics of internet pornography, addiction, surveillance, activism, and social networking. Gender and identity issues are a continuous theme throughout the course, highlighting how online lives accentuate already existing dynamics. Hong Kong connections to these subjects will also be critically discussed, often drawing on topical themes presented on blogs and forums. Students will learn of the philosophical questions of posthumanism and the nature of technologically mediated human culture. This serves as a philosophical ballast to the course allowing students to reflect personally on their own experiences and how technology has and will continue to shape their lives. The role of anthropology in understanding and capturing human culture in this context anchors on the investigation of how technology is possibly making us ‘more’ human than previous forms of cultural life.

Remarks:

Not for Anthropology Majors and CUHK students who have taken ANTH2540.

Course Objectives
After completing this course students should be able to:

1)      Identify and explain fundamental aspects of ‘cyberspace’, the information society and new media.

2)      Discuss critically the role of new media in social change and development.

3)      Critically analyse contemporary new media practices.

4)      Use all of these skills to inform better understandings of contemporary media and society.