Through fieldwork and filmmaking with young Muslim women in a social housing area in the Danish capital Copenhagen, I have explored place-making, identity and belonging through uses of Smartphones. The young Muslim women I work with carve out distinct private spaces for themselves within the otherwise very ‘public’ media platforms, which they modify, censor or make revealing, depending on audience and context. I came to see these practices as making up an art ‘Moral Laboratory 2.0’ (Mattingly 2012, Waltorp 2013). Courtesy of the online dimension, a creative experimentation with parallel worlds and (im)possible futures take place within the confines of dominant socio-cultural conceptions of ‘the virtuous woman’. I found myself participating in – and filming – a great many situations, more intimate than I had ever expected when embarking on the fieldwork. After a number of such encounters, I came to realize, that the Moral Lab 2.0 is as much a metaphor for our collaboration: Through our Smartphones and my video camera, the young women and I are collaborating in documenting, questioning and experimenting with everyday life as it is lived, produced, negotiated, and navigated continuously. Technology- and media-related activities and devices are inextricably entwined in this. And the anthropologist is – inadvertently or not – entwined in this. The methods we apply in our research do not just describe social realities but are involved in creating them (Law 2004), and the experimental collaborative mode, I argue, is sensitive to a mutual ‘invention of culture’ (Wagner 1981), emerging between the informants/collaborators and the anthropologist. In this chapter, I draw on ethnographic examples to further discuss the ethical implications of collaborating around contested issues, and my struggle to be sensitive to-, reflexive about-, and creatively use- the power of sequencing, curating, and editing of the products of the ongoing, collaborative efforts of my informants/collaborators and myself in the field and ‘after the field’.
Her current doctoral research explores issues of intimacy, representation and uses of Smartphones among young Muslim women in a social housing area in the Danish capital Copenhagen. She is director of award-winning documentary Manenberg (2010), building on fieldwork in the township Manenberg, South Africa between 2005-2009.