19. februar 2020

A new framework for computational Anthropology


Deputy Director of SODAS Professor Morten Axel Pedersen, Assistant Professor Friedolin Merhout and Professor Rebecca Adler-Nissen have been awarded an UCPH Data+ grant.

The use of data science techniques on large unstructured text data has fundamentally altered social science research. 

Within sociology, for example, NLP and other computational methods have revolutionized content analysis.

Similar developments have occurred in economics and political science, where computational methods have facilitated the collection, processing and analysis/modelling of data sets of an unprecedented scale and complexity.

Surprisingly, however, the discipline of anthropology has not been part of this computational turn.

Combining social data science, anthropology and political science expertise, this project has three aims:

  1. to empirically study the morphology and temporality of key political events via ethnographic data from two ERC-funded projects DISTRACT and DIPLOFACE;
  2. to develop computational methods for the collection, processing, and analysis of ethnographic data including field notes; 
  3. to formulate a theoretical framework for a new computational or “machinic” anthropology.

The project's full name is 'Machine Anthropology Automating the Collection, Processing and Analysis of Ethnographic Text as Data'. The grant will co-finance a 3 year postdoctoral position at SODAS.

UCPH Data+ funding is part of the UCPH 2023 strategy funds.