A paper titled ‘Revisiting the Fishers of Kerala, India’ co-authored by Janaki Srinivasan and myself was accepted at the upcoming ICTD 2013 conference in Cape Town, South Africa. This paper reported on our ethnographic case study of mobile phone use in the Keralan fishing industry. Interviews and observations were carried out by Janaki in beach landing sites and markets in both north and south Kerala.
The paper is intentionally written to be in dialogue with Economist Robert Jensen’s canonical paper which is widely known in the ICTD field titled “The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector.” In particular we explored the political economic context of the fishing industry, credit and investment practices in the industry, the possibilities of generalizing from Jensen’s study, and the broader range of mobile phone uses (beyond checking market prices) by those in the fish supply chain.
I’m participating in a book project lead by Roger Sanjek, a sequel to his original edited book, “Fieldnotes: The Making of Anthropology.” The forthcoming book on “eFieldnotes” will consider the alteration to fieldwork practices following from the use of various digital technologies by ethnographers. A small number of contributors to the volume had the chance to meet and present papers at the Society for Applied Anthropology conference in Denver, CO on March 23rd.
Our panel was selected to be podcast. The podcast audio is available here.
My contribution to the book will be titled, “Through a Screen, Darkly: On Remote, Collaborative Fieldwork in the Digital Age.”
My book was cited in this piece in the Guardian by John Naughton: Online, some are more equal than others: much is made of the Internet being a level playing field…tell that to the kids in Ghana.
Boston University, Visible + Invisible Users: Internet, Social Media, and Youth in Global Perspective. Monday, February 11, 2013. Time: 2 – 5:30 PM, Location: College of Communication, 640 Commonwealth Ave, Room 209.
Harvard University, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Luncheon Series (RSVP required). February 12th. 12:30pm. 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor – this talk was recorded, view it here or read Ethan Zuckerman’s recap.
Stanford University, Africa Table. February 20. 12:00pm. Encina Hall West, Room 202.
Pitzer College, Munroe Center for Social Inquiry. Series on Examining THE CITY: Issues of Sustainability, Social Stratification, Democratic Public Spheres, Privatization, Cosmopolitanism and the Arts. February 26th. 4:15 pm, George C.S. Benson Auditorium
I co-presented some new work with Janaki Srinivasan this week at the IMTFI annual conference for funded researchers. Our talk, “revisiting the fishers of Kerala, India” looks at all important issues of generalizability in ICTD research and practice. Our presentation is summarized in this blog post by Liz Losh.
The first review of my new book, by Kevin Donovan who says several very insightful things that I’m pleased to think my book in some way inspired, such as:
“This dominant reductionist approach defines certain values, practices and technologies as “the Internet”, and ignores many others, especially the concrete ways in which it is experienced everyday, such as by the youth in Ghana’s internet cafes. Of course, shorthand is useful, and endless precision is both tedious and implausible. But perhaps to really understand “the Internet” we need to forget it as a unified “it” altogether, something that exists within a context and can be used for good or bad. This instrumentalist conception too often prompts the wrong questions and obfuscates differences and changes. Indeed, the important and interesting questions related to “the Internet” are almost invariably the ones where it isn’t a unified whole, but rather messy and fractured, in ongoing relationship with people.”
Is the Digital Divide a defunct framework? My first column for Global Policy, a web-based journal run from my alma mater, The London School of Economics.
One related item, on “exclusionary online subcultures” see this blog post where a Ugandan journalist who criticizes Google’s chrome browser and supports IE is ridiculed and dismissed by reddit commenters. An example of insularity and ethnocentrism in online communities.
As posted over at Ethnography Matters:
Sourcemap is a project based out of the MIT Media Lab for documenting and publicizing the global supply chains of manufactured goods. With a slight bit of repurposing, I found it to be a potentially useful presentation tool for multi-sited ethnographies in the mode of “following the object.” Case in point, my source map of the distribution of secondhand computers arriving from the US and Europe to Ghana. This source map doesn’t just document their arrival into Ghana, but also the path they take in country from the port, to the shops where they are sold, the Internet cafes where they are used, and eventually to the scrap metal yards where valuable metals are extracted, and the waste dump where what is left is deposited. Source map allows you to attach text and photos (from Flickr) to points on the map and to the links between. As a presentation tool for multi-sited ethnographies this helps to break away from the linearity of prose, linking images and descriptions and giving a stronger spatial sense of phenomena that is so geographically vast in scope that it is otherwise hard to get a good grasp of its coherence and continuity.
Would you like to hear a conversational interview about my new book? I had a nice chat with Thomas Lohninger of the Talking Anthropology podcast. You can listen to it here.