Ubiquitous Anthropology

The Project

The Ubiquitous Anthropology project was created as a result of ethnographic research carried out by Professor Massimo Canevacci in an aldeia, a Bororo village, near Merurì located in the Brazilian region of Mato Grosso. Circumstances allowed a group of anthropologists to observe a rare and complex funeral ritual, in which the body of the dead person is buried and then exhumed after several weeks to be subjected to coloration, processing, and transformation.

Many anthropologists have tried to affix the dizziness, fear, and lovingly sad moments of this macabre ritual to the pages of their accounts. However, these narratives always remain confined within a literary dimension: sometimes the pages of a book do not account for the visual, kinesthetic, and auditory involvement of the disturbances and thrills typical of ethnographic observation. The many, sometimes dissonant, sometimes disorienting voices presented in the field, and the many people encountered during the research are translated into a prose that often represents a limited number of viewpoints. The authority represented in ethnographic books is almost always that of the anthropologist, who in principle observes, interprets, describes, and determines. Ethnographic accounts and books are rarely co-produced and co-signed together by the anthropologist and the observed subjects, the so-called ‘natives’.

Contemporary critical anthropology has shown the limits of this ethnographic method, which presents a monologic approach and does not do justice to the dialogic and polyphonic dynamics of field research, in which the world views, beliefs, and habits of the anthropologist meet (and collide) with those of the subjects studied and present in the contact zones.

According to these new currents of cultural anthropology, field research experiences and the ethnographic accounts that follow should be opened toward forms of co-creation and multi-authority, in which the confines between the anthropologist-observer and the observed subjects blur, and in which all of the subjects present on the scene have the right (and the possibility) to express their point of view and their own narratives.

The Ubiquitous Anthropology project aims to surpass the limits of traditional ethnography by exploring new, plural forms of field research representation, taking advantage of innovative scenarios and technologies: location-based media, open-ended stories, and emerging narrative dynamics. The idea is to explore the configurations and potential of new publishing formats that consider the ever-increasing diffusion of mobile devices (such as the iPhone) that allow cross-media geo-tagging practices and therefore the possibility of exploiting (and publishing) media compositions of a various nature, linked to specific geographic coordinates.


The complex ritual, through Ubiquitous Anthropology, is analyzed by exploring new forms of representation of field research, using innovative technology media location-based, open-ended stories, narratives and emerging trends.

Ubiquitous Anthropology explores the potential for new publishing formats, involving cross-media practices and geolocalization, to further the abilities of field research, publishing and media to compose a plurality of views involving visual, auditory and kinesthetic characteristics and linking them to specific geographical coordinates.

- Dissolves the traditional form of the book

- Articulates media tracks, produced by a variety of subjects and published at any given time

- Distributes research which is geo-localized and free to download.


Location based application per iPhone, Symbian, Android and web

Conferences & Papers

>> 11/09 Next Step Tools and Practices for Design. World Design Congress;

>> 11/09 Ethnographic Distributed Storytelling. The Planetary Collegium’s Xth International Research Conference;

>> 09/09 Saperi P2P. Proceedings of DULP – Tor Vergata University;

>> 07/09 Ubiquitous Publishing, Frontiers of Interaction V.


Massimo Canevacci: “La Linea di polvere“,Meltemi, 2007 (Roma)

Related Project

NeoRealismo Virtuale (NeRVi)

Ubiquitous Bororo  Location Based Anthropology
Ubiquitous Bororo Location Based Anthropology
Ubiquitous Bororo Location Based Anthropology
Ubiquitous Bororo Location Based Anthropology