The aim of this book is to explore digital media and intercultural interaction at an arts college in Tanzania, through innovative forms of ethnographic representation. The book and the series website weave together visual and aural narratives, interviews and observations, life stories and video documentaries, art performances and productions. It paints a vivid portrayal of everyday life in East Africa’s only institute for practical art training, while tracing the rich cultural history of a state that has mixed tribalism, nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and cosmopolitanism in astonishingly creative ways.
While following the anthropological tradition of thick description, Digital Drama employs a more artistic and accessible style of writing. Dramatic, ethnographic details are interspersed with theoretical reflections and postulations to explain and make sense of the unfolding narratives. The accompanying website visualizes and sensualizes the stories narrated in the book, unfolding a dramatic world of African dance, music, theater, and digital culture.
"Digital Drama is a brilliant work that adds powerfully to our understanding of how digital media shapes culture, community, and creativity. Based upon extensive ethnographic research at an arts college in Tanzania, this book will be valuable to those with a range of interests, including African studies, technology studies, and education."
—Tom Boellstorff, Anthropology, University of California, Irvine
"How can contemporary anthropologists confront the infinite complexities of contemporary social worlds in which the spread of digital technologies has already provoked rapid and irrevocable social change? Paula Uimomen provides a powerful answer in her creatively engaging ethnography, Digital Drama. The text is a timely, cutting-edge contribution to contemporary ethnography. It marks a path that shows us a way toward a productive and influential anthropological future."
—Paul Stoller, Anthropology, West Chester University
"Paula Uimonen was one of the first anthropologists to study the Internet; now as her lively writing about the global connections of an African art college interweaves with rich website materials, Digital Drama makes us think about how new tools can change the ethnographic craft. This is intriguing twenty-first century anthropology!"
—Ulf Hannerz, Social Anthropology, Stockholm University
Part 1: Mise-en-Scène 1. Introduction 2. The Storyboard of Digital Drama Part 2: Cultural Transformations 3. The Digital Drama of Executive Transformation 4. The Social Aesthetics of Art Training 5. Traditional-Modern Hybrid Music Production Part 3: Cultural Dependencies 6. Cultural Exchange and Friendship 7. Touristic Spectacle, Executive Vision, and Virtual Liminality 8. Chaos, Confusion, and Moral Crisis 9. Post-Script: Behind the Scenes
The purpose of this series is to use the new digital technology to capture a richer, more multidimensional view of social life than was otherwise done in the classic, print tradition of ethnography, while maintaining the traditional strengths of classic, ethnographic analysis.