2023 GW Anthropology Department Symposium

Discussant remarks and Q&A for the final panel of the day, focused on “Memorialization & Misinformation in the Context of COVID-19.” Pictured left to right: presenters Daria Dzen, Sara Ragsdale, Maura Kelly-Yuoh, Sebastian Sirias, symposium organizers Leen Alfatafta and Carolina Fuentes, and panel discussant Dr. Joel Kuipers.
Photo by Paige Gavin.

“Ethnographers of the digital describe how participants select, evaluate, and then apply textualized pieces of this networked knowledge for practical purposes.”

Dr. Joel Kuipers, panel discussant

The annual GW Anthropology Department Symposium, held on March 3, 2023, brought together a diversity of voices and perspectives within the field of anthropology. The Rituals in the Making research team contributed to these voices during two of the symposium’s panels, with presentations on:

  • “Structure Versus Event: Periodizing the COVID-19 Pandemic Through Social Media” (Sara Ragsdale & Dr. Joel Kuipers),
  • “Misinformation Narratives in the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Case of Reddit” (Anannya Sharma & Daria Dzen),
  • “Memory- Making Through the Digital: COVID-19 Memorialization Spaces and Snapshots of Grief” (Sebastian Sirias & Dr. Sarah Wagner),
  • “Failed Liminality and Disenfranchised Grief: COVID-19 Deaths in Nursing Homes” (Paige Gavin & Sarah Frieman), and
  • “Mapping an Ecosystem of COVID-19 Memorial and Advocacy Groups” (Maura Kelly-Yuoh).

As our discussant, Dr. Kuipers, noted all of the papers in some way or another invited our audiences to engage with a framework of the emerging but notional, vaguely-defined, and textured field of digital ethnography. This Symposium was one of the many ventures the Rituals in the Making team continues to make toward understanding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clockwise from top left: Sirias explains the physical aspect of COVID memorials. Photo by Paige Gavin. (left to right) Sharma and Dzen introduce their case study of Reddit, as a locus for misinformation beliefs and narratives during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Photo by Paige Gavin. Ragsdale explains the importance of periodizing events. Photo by Paige Gavin. Kelly-Yuoh highlights the process of mapping a COVID memorial and advocacy group ecosystem. Photo by Paige Gavin. (left to right) Gavin and Frieman respond to questions from the audience. Photo by Leen Alfatafta.

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