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ANTHRO 141B: The Anthropology of Bits and Bytes: Digital Media in the Developing World

Recent historical developments, including the widespread adoption of the mobile phone across Africa and Southeast Asia, the ¿Arab Spring,¿ and the rise of technology sectors in cities such as Nairobi, Bangalore, and Accra, have turned digital technology in the ¿global South¿ into a topic of growing popular interest and increasing scholarly concern. This course attempts to make sense of these developments by interrogating diverse theoretical approaches to digital technology and assessing what these approaches reveal and obscure in specific cases of technology adoption in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Students will be introduced to an overview of scholarly approaches to digital technology from anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), critical theory, geography, and communications studies. We will analyze the relative utility of these explanations through case studies of specific instances of technological production and/or use. These case studies will be drawn from both sec more »
Recent historical developments, including the widespread adoption of the mobile phone across Africa and Southeast Asia, the ¿Arab Spring,¿ and the rise of technology sectors in cities such as Nairobi, Bangalore, and Accra, have turned digital technology in the ¿global South¿ into a topic of growing popular interest and increasing scholarly concern. This course attempts to make sense of these developments by interrogating diverse theoretical approaches to digital technology and assessing what these approaches reveal and obscure in specific cases of technology adoption in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Students will be introduced to an overview of scholarly approaches to digital technology from anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), critical theory, geography, and communications studies. We will analyze the relative utility of these explanations through case studies of specific instances of technological production and/or use. These case studies will be drawn from both secondary texts and primary materials such as social media, digital maps, videos, blogs, and news reports. At the same time, we will examine how digital discourses and practices both draw upon and inform broader issues of context-specific political and cultural importance. Major topics to be discussed include ¿development¿ and the State, civil society and the ¿public sphere,¿ youth culture, gender politics, mobility, and globalization. Students will come away from the course with a strong understanding of the major issues at stake in the increasing digitalization of the ¿global South,¿ and the socio-cultural, political, and technical debates that frame them
Terms: not given this year | Units: 5 | Grading: Letter (ABCD/NP)
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