Excited to be presenting at this upcoming 2-day conference at Berkeley May 4th-5th. Will be speaking about the the Materiality of Rumors a favorite topic of mine. I wrote a chapter for an edited book on it that will be coming out sometime in 2012.
I’m @jennaburrell – go there for 160 character chunks of thought, a mixture of (West) African culture(s), reflections on sociological topics, and technology news.
I produced this months EthnoZine for our Ethnography Matters group blog. It covers a satisfyingly eclectic range of topics including: the ethnography of robots, some thoughts on whether corporate ethnography sucks, and ideas about how to get a grasp on the complex environment of a city when doing urban ethnography. You can sign up here.
The edited book (Editors: Paul Leonardi, Bonnie Nardi, Jannis Kallinikos) isn’t coming out until 2013, but a draft version of my chapter on the materiality of rumor is available now. Exploring the concept of relational materiality through an inversion of the typical material ordering, this chapter looks at the “material aspects” and the “material effects” of a particular rumor about an impending earthquake in Ghana that mysteriously emerged and spread in early 2010, shortly after Haiti’s devastating earthquake.
I’ve been working on launching a group blog with a couple of alumnae (Heather Ford, Rachelle Annechino) from our Masters program and Tricia Wang a PhD student in Sociology at UCSD. The blog is called “Ethnography Matters.” A news item describing the project is available here.
Friday (9/16) ICTD seminar meets in room 205 South Hall at noon. I’ll be talking about some recent research on the secondhand computer business in Accra, Ghana which is critical in affordably equipping the city’s Internet cafes.
Secondhand computers being sold in a shop in Accra, Ghana. Property tags left on the machines reveal their source: the New York Public Library.
This stunning image of the many fiber optic undersea cables in the process of being laid down along the West and East coasts of Africa is treated by many as a sign of coming transformation of the continent.
[image created and continually updated over at Many Possibilities]
A recent article titled ‘Glo 1 Cables At Risk’ in Ghana’s Daily Graphic newspaper (June 13, 2011, by Charles Benoni Okine) suggests some concerning and certainly (for residents) very annoying problems in connecting this cable from the coast into the next phase of infrastructure building on land. The cable in question is the one in yellow on the above map. The article is a helpful illustration of some of the problems of business management and service delivery that remain.
In summary: residents accuse the contractors hired by GLOBACOM to lay cable infrastructure within Accra of doing a shoddy job. Note this is preliminary infrastructure building work, not quite the ‘last mile’ delivering Internet access to buildings. Residents in certain areas of Accra received a letter requesting access to their land with promises that after laying the cable the land would be restored to its prior state (within 24 hours in the case where cement driveways have been demolished). It’s the rainy season in Ghana right now. Some residents are now saying trenches dug have not been properly resealed and have opened up in the rains. Driveways “have either not been restored or have been patched with sand and stones instead of cement.” One affected resident noted, “I cannot invest in cementing my home only for another company which wants to make money to destroy it with impunity.” As a result residents are threatening to pull out the cables to get the attention of the company and its contractors.
Quoted briefly in Technology Review on Nokia’s work in Africa.
My comments on the recent media coverage on CNN of ‘sakawa’ (Internet scamming) in Ghana at the excellent blog – Africa is a Country.
Also, while we’re at it, I thought Timothy Burke’s comments on his blog on how the development industry trades in Messianic narratives (with the recent controversy over Greg Mortenson’s book Three Cups of Tea as the case in point) resonated with this theme of problems in Western ‘depicting’ of the "Third World."