In this first Digital Anthropology in Vietnam symposium, leading researchers from Vietnam and overseas will be discussing how digital change is affecting the way we could understand social and cultural transformations in Vietnam.
We have arrived at an urgent anthropological juncture marked by digital integration in the 21st Century.
Permeating every crevice of life, the combination of mobile computing and the Internet of Things is creating multiple layers of interface between an individual and the world. The 21st Century anthropological “subject” could no longer be framed in categories created by the colonial project and state formation. Anthropological agency has been returned to the individual.
Since Writing Culture, anthropologists have called for a more empowering and collaborative mode of ethnography. Decolonizing Methodologists have called for more inclusive and empowering practices, and socially-engaged deliverables.
And Digital Studies points to the immense possibilities when we integrate digital tools and methodologies to create public projects that are more inclusive, participatory and empowering. A befitting anthropology of our times should necessarily be collaborative, dynamic, bottom-up and empowering; and “subjects” must morph into stakeholders, if not more.
The 21st Century “anthropological subject” could no longer be framed in categories of subjectification created by the colonial project and state formation. Vietnam is one of the most digitally connected countries in Southeast Asia. Vietnamese users of the digital are also known to be one of the most prolific content creators, both as individuals and as members of the many online “communities.”
Has anthropology in Vietnam been staying abreast of these digital developments in its field?
It is quite a straight forward question to ask if anthropology in Vietnam is able to ethnographically account for life in a digitally connected present.
But if we see digital inclusion, broadly conceptualized, as fundamentally transforming the triangular relationship of researcher, field and subjects, then we must recognize that we have arrived at a new historical juncture of emerging opportunities that could radically reinvent our mode of knowing.
Perhaps we should ask a more reflexive question, has the field of anthropology in Vietnam been transformed by the ongoing Digital Revolution, the most powerful current of exchange that permeates every corner of Vietnam?
This international symposium is supported by Vietnam National University – University of Social Sciences & Humanities (Hanoi), RMIT In-Conversation with Hanoi, and RMIT CODE.