Transilient relations: Exploring the social in anonymity

In her intriguing study of anonymous ova donors and their recipients in England, anthropologist Monica Konrad examines how it is possible that new social relations emerge from such donations although those involved in egg donation practices have no possibility of getting to know each other. Nameless relations (Konrad, 2005) is a detailed ethnographic analysis of a situation marked by non-knowledge, and of the relations that those involved in it form under the conditions of anonymity and non-reciprocity.

On anonymity in disasters: Socio-technical practices in emergency management


During an interview about how he manages data quality when disaster information comes from a range of sources in a variety of formats, an experienced police chief from the UK offered up this statement:

I’ll be very reluctant on an anonymous call from someone who didn’t want to tell you anything to jump straight to that action point. It comes back to developing your intelligence first. (Police Chief, UK in May 2015)

The social productivity of anonymity

In a process that started decades ago, a multiplicity of forces is creating a slow, but steadily rising storm against anonymity. Discourses of transparency and accountability often describe anonymity as a threat. Technologies such as the IP-address-based Internet, sensory devices, and machine learning techniques further undermine anonymous encounters. In an age of near ubiquitous surveillance, anonymity is under attack. But what is at stake in such discourses and developments?


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