Remote Ethnography

Studying Culture from Afar

Authored by: John Postill

The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138940918
eBook ISBN: 9781315673974
Adobe ISBN: 9781317377788


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It was a tense event. I was sitting in a classroom at Goldsmiths College, University of London, near the front. The speaker was the ex-Muslim and feminist author Maryam Namazie. She was here as a guest of the university’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (AHS) to speak about blasphemy and apostasy. The audience consisted at this point of some 25 souls, including a contingent of young Muslim women seated toward the back of the room. Normally at a university lecture one assumes the audience will be reasonably quiet and respectful—you would certainly not expect to have to contend with hecklers bent on disrupting the session. But on this occasion that was exactly what was in store for Namazie. After a brief introduction by a young, bespectacled AHS member, Namazie wondered out loud whether she should sit or stand, eventually choosing the latter. About ten minutes into her talk, half a dozen young bearded men—presumably from the university’s Islamic Society—entered the room and sat along the front row, a mere few feet away from the speaker. One of them began to laugh as Namazie related the recent murder of Bangladeshi bloggers critical of political Islamists. The speaker asked him whether he found it amusing that people were being “hacked to death.”

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