Media Anthropology represents a convergence of issues and interests on anthropological approaches to the study of media. The purpose of this reader is to promote the identity of the field of study; identify its major concepts, methods, and bibliography; comment on the state of the art; and provide examples of current research. Based on original articles by leading scholars from several countries and academic disciplines, Media Anthropology provides essays introducing the issues, reviewing the field, forging new conceptual syntheses.

Histories and Debates

Histories and Debates
Histories and debates

“For many years, mass media were seen as almost a taboo topic for anthropology, too redolent of Western modernity and cultural imperialism for a field identified with tradition, the non-Western, and the vitality of the local” (Ginsburg, chapter 2). Instead, this type of research has attracted scholars from other academic fields and backgrounds. Approaches to media anthropology have been developed by selecting concepts and methods from cultural anthropology, combining them into new configurations, and applying them to the various fields of mass communication—often in direct contrast with anthropological delineations.

This disciplinary crossover has had two results: (a) the absence of a significant corpus of works on mass media done by “legitimate” anthropologists and (b) the existence of numerous studies on media ...

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