home / working groups / SIEF Working Group on Digital Ethnology and Folklore

Digital Ethnology and folklore

This Working group was founded in 2015, as a response to a need for such a WG at SIEF 2015 12th Congress in Zagreb, Croatia.

Coppélie Cocq, Chair, University Helsinki, FI / Umea University, Sweden,
Liisi Laineste, Co Chair, Estonian Literary Museuem
Katalin Vargha, Secretary, Research Centre for the Humanities (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Institute of Ethnology
Christoph Bareither, Board, Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin,
Robert Glenn Howard, Board, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
Evelina Lilequist, Board, Umeå University,
Mabrouk Boutagouga, Board, University of Batna

Mission statement

Researchers of ethnology and folklore have made the study of everyday life their focus, and those everyday lives are being transformed by continual access to the Internet through personal computers, phones, and other mobile devices. As these technologies have become ubiquitous, the questions researchers must ask are not just about how these technologies work or about the media products they disseminate, but about the massive impact digital practices are having and will continue to have in the daily expression of our shared culture. These practices raise new questions for ethnologists and folklorists.

How do everyday media creations empower people to express themselves? What impact does digital dissemination have on traditional forms and practices? How does the more fluid relationship between institutional and everyday media production affect our shared cultural heritage? What methods can be used to document and archive network-based everyday expression? In short, how are these technologies shaping the way we live our daily lives?

Because these technologies necessarily interact with what happens offline, the relationship, interplay, tensions, and overlaps between the online and the offline create a complex reality that the fields of folklore and ethnology are increasingly called on to address. At the same time, the manifold uses of the Internet and other technologies have created a need for investigation, perspectives, methods, and tools in order to try to understand the implications of these growing modes of expression and forms of practice.

The working group on Digital Ethnology and Folklore (DEF) addresses this need by creating an arena that fosters dialogue between ethnologists, folklorists and other SIEF scholars engaging with digital technologies in their research — including digital culture, digital practices, implications of the digital for our methods, tools, theoretical frameworks and ethical considerations. While scholars of media and communication attempt to address the digital technologies and their products, the ethnological perspectives bring a unique and important focus on the people behind, beside, in front of and inside these digital technologies. Further, folkloristic approaches to cultural expressions in the digital environments are an invaluable contribution to research on digital media and digital technologies.

The working group offers a platform that forwards research in Digital Ethnology and Folklore in order to strengthen and develop the research collaborations already being fostered by SIEF. Further, the working group on Digital Ethnology and Folklore seeks to identity new directions, shifts and emerging issues in our academic disciplines in relation to the uses of digital technologies. 

The DEF Working Group seeks to accomplish these goals by: 

- organizing panels at conferences

- coordinating publications

- identifying and developing strategies for promoting the critical study of digital expression

- developing projects to increase research on digital practices, digital methods, digital tools, and digital culture.

Specific topics, tasks and activities emerge and undertaken through discussions with the members of the DEF Working Group.

Mailing list

This working group has now got a mailing list. Subscribe here.