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Number not reachable: Mobile infrastructure and global racial hierarchy in Africa
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Anthropology.
2015 (English)In: Journal des anthropologues, ISSN 2114-2203, no 142-143, 29-47 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Focusing on infrastructural malfunctioning, this article discusses the visual materiality and political economy of mobile infrastructure in Africa. Building on the anthropology of infrastructure, it argues that contrary to the oft cited notion that infrastructure is invisible until it breaks down, in an African context, systemic breakdowns in infrastructure are taken for granted; they are visibly present, while well functioning infrastructure is visibly absent. The material visibility and malfunctioning of mobile infrastructure are used as departure points for a critical appraisal of what is often celebrated as Africa’s mobile success story. Noting how mobile phones are present in most aspects of daily life, functioning like material extensions of the self, the analysis focuses on neoliberal forms of predatory capitalism that recast citizens as self-regulated consumers while advancing corporate forms of governance. Following the call for theory from the south, malfunctioning mobile infrastructure is contextualized as a state of partial inclusion in the global network society, the structural underpinnings of which is interpreted in terms of Africa’s place-in-the-world in a racialized global hierarchy.   

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. no 142-143, 29-47 p.
Keyword [en]
infrastructure, mobile, digital, hierarchy, race, global, Africa
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Social Anthropology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-123140OAI: diva2:871884
Available from: 2015-11-17 Created: 2015-11-17 Last updated: 2015-11-17Bibliographically approved

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