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Transmedia Project "Elderscapes. Ageing in Urban South Asia"

Shooting at Doleshwor Mahadev Temple, Nepal (photo: A.Mayer)

In cooperation with filmmaker Jakob Gross, the anthropologists Roberta Mandoki and Annika Mayer developed a transmedia project in the form of an open-access, interactive website as a public outcome of the research project "Ageing in a Transcultural Context" (B19). It covers various aspects of ageing in urban environments and presents parts of their ethnographic fieldwork in South Asia. The website's different topical lines focus on the social commitment of older persons, their everyday life and social bonding, on their memories as well as perspectives on what it means to grow old in a city.

Multimedia story telling is a contemporary method in visual anthropology. It is an expedient tool to reveal the diversity of research material as it allows the productive interweaving of multiple media types like video, text, sound and images. Furthermore it enables the user to engage with these diverse materials either by following a protagonist in a non-linear way, by engaging with anthropological topics or by navigating across geographical locations (e.g. google maps). The process of knowledge production (and appropriation) is therefore at least partly regulated and controlled by the recipients themselves.

Exploring Urban Spaces, Nepal (photo: J.Gross)

However, the usage of diverse media does not only serve as ethnographic description. An entanglement of textual and sensory visual media with anthropological findings also creates new connections between ethnography and anthropological theory. Besides describing the ethnographic field, it generates multi-linear, multi-vocal, interactive and reflexive ‘texts’ which concurrently take up theoretical anthropological discourses.  A nexus of the specific /general and of the individual/abstract allows interweaving theory and fieldwork in a new manner.

Shooting in New Delhi, India (photo: A.Mayer)

A transmedia text is able to combine written theory and descriptive narratives with such representations of knowledge and experience that can only, or best, be communicated audio-visually. It does not only make use of the particular potentials of each medium but - through newly created combinations - also produces interdependences between those media. Therefore, certain forms of communication and representations are only rendered possible through this format.

The shooting for the transmedia project was conducted in Delhi and Kathmandu from December 2013 through January 2014. It was launched in January 2016. For further information, please contact Annika Mayer or Roberta Mandoki.

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Article in the Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung, 9 February 2016: