Nell Haynes

Nell Haynes

I am a postdoctoral researcher in anthropology

Location Santiago, Chile


  • It's so interesting the ways personalities sometimes come off the wrong way online. There are some people I quite enjoy "IRL" but they annoy me online. And others who I dislike in general, but they tend to share really funny insightful things online so I pay close attention to their feeds. As much as I do think "online" and "offline" are integrated in...

  • So true. In Chile there was a popular meme going around for a while warning young girls to not share "sexy" photos revealing too much of their body. In some ways it seemed a bit oppressive, with older women, older brothers, etc. essentially telling younger women what to do in passive agressive ways. But at the same time, maybe a good lesson for young women to...

  • Yes, precisely a point I make in the book about Chile! I've been thinking a lot about memes and how they are similar to the ways that poetry and greeting cards have been used over the years (and probably other types of language I haven't thought of yet). The ways they are kind of mass-produced, I think allow people to say things they wouldn't normally say. But...

  • I didn't know about the role of social media in Ayotzinapa. Very interesting (and sad) case.

  • In linguistic anthropology, we often talk about "identity in interaction". I think that's what you're describing. Identity is created through interactions and is usually dependent upon aligning with certain "types" of people and distancing oneself from other "types" of people. very interesting!

  • It would be interesting to see if things like television programs which they're being sarcastic about relate more closely with particular classes, races, genders, etc!

  • Paula, I think one of the most fascinating things about social media is the ways that others will criticize, put down, or censure others in public ways (perhaps it's easier because it doesn't happen "face to face"). It's not necessarily a happy topic, but important to understanding normativities!

  • It's interesting how this plays out in different contexts. I always love Danny Miller's example of how teens in England began conversing through Twitter to avoid their parents on Facebook.

  • They certainly sound more Brazilian-like than Chilean-like!

  • So interesting how all of these aesthetic senses get intermixed!

  • I think in some ways you're right, but there are so many complex reasons that these things manifest differently. The Chileans I worked with are indeed wonderful people, but I'm sure the Brazilians are great as well, even if they are "show offs" on social media!

  • I think this is something we are really trying to show through this course! So glad that you came to that conclusion!

  • Georgia, I think ideologically you're quite right! But of course, part of what we anthropologists are doing is not studying what "is actually 'normal'", but studying what people consider to be "normal". Unfortunately, there are not so many people in the world who are as accepting as you are. In Alto Hospicio, people were constantly commenting on others'...

  • This is an interesting perspective. I think what I specifically found was that social media tends to be a conservative space because of the visibility of things people post. While there are possibilities for pushing the boundaries of normativity--as in Turkey and India where young people could create romantic relationships that they wouldn't have...

  • Shortly after the earthquake, I had a conversation with a friend who had been in Haiti during the earthquake there. He seemed flabbergasted that I had any form of communication after such a high-scale earthquake. It's amazing how quickly technology changes!

  • Nell Haynes replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Very interesting. My PhD advisor (who was over 60 years at the time) always wrote emails with contractions like "yr" for your, "thx" for thanks, and even "wlm" for his name, William. I found it amusing, and I'm curious how it began but it always seemed like a rejection of the establishment from an unlikely source to me!

  • Nell Haynes replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    All great questions!

  • This is precisely what Bourdieu describes in Distinction!

  • There's been a lot written on vegetarianism and veganism as classed diets (to be clear, not always, but often people with access to the healthiest foods are not those living in urban areas without supermarkets, for example). So, it may not be an overtly crafted way of performing class, but I do think class is implicated in these different diets portrayed on...

  • I definitely see similar things, using humor to talk about holidays, and in some ways disidentify. My favorite is "academic valentines" which include "I've read your work" and "No need to revise and resubmit. I accept you as you are!"

  • What is that from, Monica?

  • Rob, you bring up some important points. I'd encourage you to read the book, because I think some of your questions are answered there. But in brief, first, it was very hard to "break into" the social scene, but once I had made acquaintance with neighbors who would thereafter vouch for me, the social scene opened up. It's important to remember anthropologists...

  • I don't want to rain on the parade but I think there are two problems with this. First, it doesn't do much to help them actually improve their situation, and second it really erases the voices of the most marginalized among them, so that those who really are struggling don't get any more help than anyone else, and are often even vilified if they do try to...

  • Hi Rob,
    I think this is why reflexivity is always so central to anthropology. People always enter "the field" with biases and certain pre-existing orientations. It can't be helped (in biology, physics, and medicine, as well as history, sociology and anthropology). But making clear those pre-conceived notions, and thinking through the ways that these things...

  • Hi Catherine, In many ways anthropologists use "snowball sampling" but we try to get a representative sample in terms of gender, sexual orientation, age, occupation, social class, amount of time the family has spent in the city, religion (where that is variable), political orientation (where that is variable), and any other demographic marker you can think of....

  • It's very true that I think (at least in Chile) weather influences a lot. It would be interesting to get an ecological anthropologist involved to explore this further!

  • Of course, it's important to remember that all of this area is a "land grab" from Peru. The government has certainly been helping since 2004 with massive amounts of state-provided housing, but because the people are not politically strong enough to influence elections, their concerns are not important to national politicians.

  • I don't think they're necessarily poorer. Remember, they have flat screen televisions, cars, and they think of themselves as not necessarily among the poorest in the country (though statistics would indicate otherwise). But a large part of their local forms of identification have to do with working-class solidarity, so they don't display wealth as the...

  • Hi Jane, we focus here primarliy on economic inequalities, and their related social class inequalities, but as you've seen already, we've discussed gender, educational, and other kinds of inequalities in previous weeks.

  • It's true that this is one way to describe what is happening. Though I personally critique the idea of glocalization because it tends to focus on a center to periphery trajectory of "culture" rather than focusing on the cultural exchanges that sometimes involve global cultural centers taking up practices from globally "peripheral" areas as well.

  • Well, to use the example of the selfie, really, takes us back to the middle ages, maybe even days when humans were living in caves and were making the first representations of themselves. If we think of a selfie as a visual representation of the likeness of the self, then we're all drawing on looooong histories of portraiture (and self portraiture). So no one...

  • can you give us some examples of what you mean by posting their "ideas"?

  • Well, there are plenty of people who work as electricians in the mines and have all sorts of electical converters on hand. My friend used a combination of jumper cables and a converter box, then plugged a power strip into the box, then the whole neighborhood was charing phones using his Jeep.

  • Indeed. In fact, I (who wrote the majority of this piece) used the word "identity" here, but in circles more deeply ingrained in anthropological theories, I always use the active very "identify" or the noun form "identification" to indicate the fact that this is not something static. It is something constantly, actively produced, performed, and negotiated...

  • I think you're right, but also to an extent, at least in the US, northern and metropolitan areas of Chile, and urban Bolivia (so a fairly wide range of contexts), Apple products are also endowed with an aura of coolness, creativity, artistry, hipness, that goes far beyond the exchange value (cost) and sign of class distinction, and is much more about the...

  • I always advise my students that they might consult Wikipedia as a jumping off point, but I certainly would not count it as an academic source. However, it's a great way to find academic sources!

  • Peter (and anyone who is interested), the Gomez Cruz and Lehmuskallio reference is a book (fairly new).
    Gomez Cruz has a number of articles however, that might be more cheaply attained on similar themes. If you have...

  • Interestingly enough, there are plenty of people in Alto Hospicio who call Santiago by "Santiasco", wherein asco=gross, or disgusinting in Spanish. So there's an interesting reversal that goes on. I also founding amusing that when traveling fro AHo to Stgo Hospiceños would caution me about how dangerous Santiago is. And when leaving Stgo to go back to AHo,...

  • Juliano is quite right in his explanation, but I should also mention that Alto Hospicio very much has a "small town feel". People know each other, and know each others' business (there's lots of gossip). They don't trust people they don't know. I describe it in my book as "a small town that just keeps sprawling." I personally grew up in a town of 2000 people,...

  • Hi Catherine, I'd encourage you to read the chapter, Does Social Media Make People Happier? in How the World Changed Social Media (download free: to really explore this question from a cross cultural perspective. The insights might surprise you!

  • Well, we have publicized the course in all of our field sites (and it is available in the languages of all these places, as well, through UCLeXtend), and the course is free, so we certainly hope that some have had the opportunity to take the course. I know that I have tried to persuade several people from my field site to take the course, but so far none have...

  • Hi Caroline, to respond to your second comment, because anthropologists spend so long in their field sites (in this case, 15 months), we do actually witness social changes taking place. For example, when I first arrived in Alto Hospicio, Whatsapp was a new app. By the time I left is was THE most important way people communicated. There were also plenty of...

  • Hi Tanya, you may be interested in theories of mediatization. See Hjarvard and Peterson 2013, Mediatization and Cultural Change.

  • Hi Foster, you said that since buildings and industries were reduced to rubbles social media plays a significant role now. Can you explain how you see the connection between the two?

  • Interesting! Can you give us some local examples?

  • Hi Gianluca, I'm not sure I'm understanding the distinction between mocking others to damage credibility or sanction inappropriate behaviors, AND ridiculing because something is considered wrong. Can you use examples to illustrate the ways you see a difference between the two?

  • That's an interesting take! I don't disagree, though most people would say Trinidad is more like Brazil because of the propensity to show off, but I like your analysis from the other side!

  • Hi Peter, In Chile, the imagined audience is definitely friends and family, neighbors, school or workmates, and other people one knows face-to-face. I talk a lot about intended audience in the full book (which of course you can download for free from I also talk about the idea of posting...

  • Hi Margaret, you can see all of our videos, from which these "meet the people" videos were edited on the UCLWhyWePost YouTube channel.

  • While Pinochet-era atrocities affect northern Chile to a large extent, even today, equally important in it's history is its annexation from Peru (and Bolivia) in the 1870s during the War of the Pacific!

  • There's actually a book that begins with rememberance of that song. Check out Salt in the Sand by Lessie Jo Frazier.

  • Hi Richard, I think you make a good point, but what we're discussing here are "differences" in access to resources, education, a living wage, health, etc. Another word for these might be "structural violences" but using "difference" would take an apolitical stance to these forms of unequal access. Inequality is used deliberately to acknowledge the fact that we...

  • Yes, we don't use the term here, but these forms of inequalities are "intersectional", to use a term common in Critical Race Theory and Critical Race Feminism.

  • Great answer!

  • Great insight. It also backs up the differences we hopefully explained in the contrast between Chile and Brazil!

  • Exactly, normal is only normal within a particular context!

  • That's a great example! Thanks for sharing, Marc. Can you tell us more about what types of things people posted?

  • Thanks Juliano!

  • Ayu, are they many people who have become famous through mocking themselves on social media?

  • Good point! And also indicates how important our combined approach of online AND in-person ethnography has been. We don't know they're gossiping out loud about what's happening online unless we're there to hear it!

  • Hi Anand. Great comments. Though I think we have to be careful in considering international economic models to be the best measure of in/equality. Check out the chapter on Happiness in How the World Changed Social Media for a more detailed explanation!

  • So interesting!

  • Interesting! Though i think that could be said about all human action. At it's root it's either about survival, or about advancing our values, right?

  • Well I think the fact that he's referring to the field site is implied, but I understand the confusion!

  • Great! I really liked it, and I think it's relevant to what you're talking about (though not so much about social media, but does concern internet use)!

  • Victoria can you tell us who the student is or where we could see this research?

  • Interesting. I don't know anything about administrators deleting things (other than ones that violate the program's standards). Can you elaborate?

  • Interesting!