UCL Anthropology


ANTHGM02 - Digital Infrastructure: Materiality, Information and Politics

UG Lecture; PG Seminar - Timetable

Dr David Jeevendrampillai

This course will explore how digital technologies are affecting people's everyday lives, by approaching digital technologies as infrastructures. In the face of globalisation and the challenge that this has posed to community-based studies of cultural processes anthropologists have become increasingly interested in how large scale technical systems such communications networks, energy infrastructures, roads, water and waste systems might act as fruitful sites for conducting an ethnographies of contemporary relations. Infrastructures connect people across space and time, operationalising cultural ideas about progress and development. At the same time they bring together diverse interest groups who see in infrastructural systems different kinds of possibilities and threats. Appearing as sites of both conflict and cooperation between government officials, corporate actors, NGOs and local populations, infrastructures therefore offer a powerful means of understanding the formation of political imaginaries such as the state, the market, the environment, the nation, the community and the public and their effects in everyday life.

Building on this recent work within the anthropology of infrastructure and applying it to digital technologies, the course will covers issues such as the role of digital technologies in mediating relationships between citizens, corporations and the state, the place that digital media are playing in constructing social and political imaginaries, the material basis of digital communication and the emergence of the Internet of Things as a new realm of social relating.