Conversation with Utsa Mukherjee on digital ethnography

In this video, Pankhuri Agarwal, PhD Candidate at the University of Bristol talks to Dr Utsa Mukherjee, ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southamptom about his experience of conducting digital ethnography – the opportunities to be gained, the possible challenges and pitfalls, the ethical issues, power relations, and a few tips and tricks on how researchers can strategically position their research within the world of digital research methods.

A few additional resources on digital ethnography

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre website.
The LSE Digital Ethnography Collective website.
The University of Vienna Digital Ethnography Initiative website.
The Standford Centre for Global Ethnography has very useful interviews with ethnographers who have conducted research remotely, here.
The University of Chicago Linguistic Anthropology Lab has curated a list of resources for doing digital fieldwork, here.

About Dr Utsa Mukherjee

Utsa is an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Southampton and the Book Review Co-Editor for the journal Children & Society. He holds a PhD in Sociology from Royal Holloway, University of London. His research focuses on the intersection of race and class within the leisure geographies of racialised middle-class families. He is currently working on his first monograph Race, Class, Parenting and Children’s Leisure for the Bristol University Press. 

More about Utsa’s project in which he used digital ethnography

‘In autumn 2020, I conducted a digital ethnographic study of online Durga Puja festivals that were organised by diasporic Bengali Hindu communities in the UK amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic. Durga Puja is a Hindu religious festival which is the fulcrum of the social calendar among Hindu Bengalis in India and Bangladesh. Several Hindu Bengali diasporic groups in the UK, mostly originating from the Indian state of West Bengal, organise these autumnal Durga Pujas every year. These ethnic-religious festival spaces serve as vehicles through which these racialized diasporic groups direct place-making, build community and reinforce ethnic pride. However, the current COVID-19 pandemic has meant that in-person mass gatherings such as those occasioned by Durga Puja festivals could not be held. In response, many of these UK-based Durga Puja organisers adapted to the situation, choosing to stage small-scale indoor religious ceremonies and cultural programmes that comply with governmental guidelines and then livestreaming them to their members through YouTube and Facebook groups. For this study, I observed these livestreams and conducted one-to-one telephone interviews with twenty-two Durga Puja organisers from across Britain.’