Jenna Burrell: Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana (2012)

11 December 2012, dusan

“The urban youth frequenting the Internet cafés of Accra, Ghana, who are decidedly not members of their country’s elite, use the Internet largely as a way to orchestrate encounters across distance and amass foreign ties–activities once limited to the wealthy, university-educated classes. The Internet, accessed on second-hand computers (castoffs from the United States and Europe), has become for these youths a means of enacting a more cosmopolitan self. In Invisible Users, Jenna Burrell offers a richly observed account of how these Internet enthusiasts have adopted, and adapted to their own priorities, a technological system that was not designed with them in mind.

Burrell describes the material space of the urban Internet café and the virtual space of push and pull between young Ghanaians and the foreigners they encounter online; the region’s famous 419 scam strategies and the rumors of “big gains” that fuel them; the influential role of churches and theories about how the supernatural operates through the network; and development rhetoric about digital technologies and the future viability of African Internet cafés in the region.

Burrell, integrating concepts from science and technology studies and African studies with empirical findings from her own field work in Ghana, captures the interpretive flexibility of technology by users in the margins but also highlights how their invisibility puts limits on their full inclusion into a global network society.”

Publisher MIT Press, 2012
ISBN 0262017369, 9780262017367
Acting With Technology series
236 pages

interview with the author



Jussi Parikka (ed.): Medianatures: The Materiality of Information Technology and Electronic Waste (2011-)

7 November 2011, dusan

“Medianatures picks up from Donna Haraway’s idea of naturecultures – the topological continuum between nature and culture, the material entwining and enfolding of various agencies, meanings and interactions. Medianatures gives the concept of naturecultures a specific emphasis, and that emphasis is at the core of this living book. It is a useful concept and framework for investigating some of the ways in which our electronic and high-tech media culture is entwined with a variety of material agencies. The notion of ‘materiality’ is taken here in a literal sense to refer, for instance, to ‘plasma reactions and ion implantation’ (Yoshida, 1994: 105) – as in processes of semiconductor fabrication, or to an alternative list of media studies objects and components which are studied from an e-waste management perspective: ‘metal, motor/compressor, cooling, plastic, insulation, glass, LCD, rubber, wiring/electrical, concrete, transformer, magnetron, textile, circuit board, fluorescent lamp, incandescent lamp, heating element, thermostat, brominated flamed retardant (BFR)-containing plastic, batteries, CFC/HCFC/HFC/HC, external electric cables, refractory ceramic fibers, radioactive substances and electrolyte capacitors (over L/D 25 mm)’, and which themselves are constituted from a range of materials – plastics, wood, plywood, copper, aluminum, silver, gold, palladium, lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, hexavalent chromium and flame retardants (Pinto, 2008).” (from Introduction)

Publisher Open Humanities Press
Living Books About Life series

View online (wiki/PDF/HTML articles)
PDF (PDF’d Introduction with hyperlinked articles)