Researching Medicinal Cannabis In Internet Archives

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In this presentation, I will present first results from the ongoing research project Controversial Healings, which investigates the evolution of discourses about medicinal cannabis on the Danish Internet since 2000. The project uses data from the Danish Internet Archive Netarkivet to shed light on how the implementation of a trial period for medicinal cannabis in Danish healthcare has emerged as the web 2.0-driven ‘controversy’ it is currently popularly understood as. Controversial Healings is a collaboratory project between a qualitative, text-based researcher at the IT University of Copenhagen and a data specialist at the Danish Royal Library and has been facilitated by funding from the pilot project program from the Danish E-infrastructure Cooperation.
The project asks the central question of what types of meanings have ‘stuck’ to medicinal cannabis over time, and across different outlets and platforms; this is thus research based on a Foucauldian genealogy approach, which focuses not so much on linear developments as on contradictions, disruptions and the ways in which these may point to negotiations of power. This type of approach, however, is typical of small-data and qualitative approaches, which is in stark contrast to the dataset of 8.727.447 documents we are currently working with. In the presentation, I will outline how the project has worked with a combination of computational methods related to term frequencies and qualitative close readings of texts in the aim of unpacking the Danish debate about medicinal cannabis and consider the stakes of working with internet archives for topical cultural research.

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Contributed date

May 28, 2020 - 4:42am

Critical Commentary

This is an abstract for the EASST/4S 2020 open panel "Digital Experiments in the Making: Methods, Tools, and Platforms in the Infrastructuring of STS".