RMeS Digital Ethnography Seminar with Dr. Donya Alinejad and Stephanie Livingstone (PhD candidate)

Digital Ethnography as participatory and collaborative: Challenges and creative tools for making a difference with/in communities

A conversation with Dr. Donya Alinejad (Utrecht University) and Stephanie Livingstone (PhD at RMIT University)

When: 17 October 2024 | 2:30-4:00 p.m. CET
Where: Utrecht University – Hybrid (exact room, see below)
In person: Kromme Nieuwegracht 20 – T.0.05; Grote Zaal
Online: Teams link will be sent to all registered participants
ECTS: 2-4 EC. More information about credits and assignments, see below
Coordinator: Prof. dr Annette Markham (Utrecht University)
Organisation: Prof. dr Annette Markham, Department of Media and culture Studies (Utrecht University) and RMeS
For: PhD Candidates and RMa students in Media Studies, who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool). RMeS staff and other interested colleagues are welcome to sit in on specific sessions.

Registration will open 11 September 2024 via THIS LINK.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When registering, please specify at ‘remarks’ if you want to attend IN PERSON or ONLINE.

This seminar is part of the RMeS Digital Ethnography Seminar Series 2024: Tools, Ethics, Futures. More information can be found here.

Digital Ethnography as participatory and collaborative: Challenges and creative tools for making a difference with/in communities
How can the mindset and tools of ethnography be leveraged to build stronger participatory and collaborative research models in and with communities? This session focuses on the value of making research spaces more accessible or inclusive when working with communities, juxtaposed with the challenges of shifting the academic lens from observation to co-creation and co-learning. Livingstone and Alinejad discuss these topics in the context of their own research practice with homeless youth and diasporic communities, respectively. These cases launch a larger discussion of how the participatory and collaborative features of ethnography enable an adaptive and reflexive mindset, important for communities who have traditionally experienced marginalisation and/or exclusion.

Donya Alinejad is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University. She is a media researcher with a focus on digital media and a background in anthropology. She has studied the role of social media usage in people’s experiences of spatial mobility, community-formation, emotional care, and scientific knowledge communication. She has conducted this research in multiple countries, paying special attention to how digital communications technologies become integrated into people’s everyday lives.

Stephanie Livingstone is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Excellence in Automated Decision Making and Society at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She is a long-time community development professional with local and international experience in the areas of program management, digital inclusion, youth engagement and advocacy. She is particularly interested in addressing AI inequalities and social justice through community engagement practices. A member of DERC, the Digital Ethnography Research Centre, Stephanie brings expertise in being flexibly adaptive and collaborative in thinking about appropriate research design. [bio in progress].


Ortner, S. B. (2019). Practicing engaged anthropology. Anthropology of this Century, 25, available at: http://aotcpress.com/articles/practicing-engaged-anthropology/

Sumiala, J., & Tikka, M. (2020). Digital media ethnographers on the move – An unexpected proposal. Journal of Digital Social Research, 2(1), 39-55.

Further readings TBA 


To earn ECTS credit for this series, students in RMA or PhD programs may choose from the following options:

2 ECTS: Attend five of the six Seminar sessions. No further requirements

4 ECTS: Attend four of the six seminar sessions. In advance of each session attended, students should prepare and upload to a designated course folder a single PDF document that comprises four questions, based on the reading materials, that could be posed to one or both of the featured speakers. Each question should be framed or situated by a short (approx 600-750 words) blogpost style essay that provides background on why or how the question is relevant and more specifically, how it is derived from the student’s personal reading and comprehension of the materials provided/suggested for each seminar session. Other source material may be added. (total word count per seminar attended is 2400-3000 words. Over the course of the entire series, the student will produce 9200-12000 words). Expression of ideas in a blogpost style post indicates that informal, first person writing style is allowed. Within this, proper citations and a consistent citation style should be used. Essays are evaluated as Pass/Fail, on the basis of completion and evidence of basic comprehension. Students should not expect any feedback from the facilitator on content.