Teaching Global Social Media Through Ethnography

  • Jolynna Melinda Sinanan University of Sydney


This short piece reflects on both the ethnographic process and the ethnographic products from the Why We Post research project, conducted between 2012 and 2017. I draw attention to the comparative nature of the project, from inception to writing up and how our comparative approach to ethnographic research has formed effective tools for teaching anthropological sensibilities to students of media and digital media studies. In the pedagogical practices that have emerged from the project, I provide examples of images posted to social media platforms and of political engagement in Trinidad as a way of drawing connections between in-depth ethnographic inquiry conducted in what may appear to be parochial or peripheral sites, and emerging trends in global, public discussion. In so doing, I illustrate the ways culturally situated digital practices can become effective and accessible ways for introducing ethnographic research into contemporary teaching contexts.