Anthropology of Networks

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Anthropology

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Anthropology of Networks

Spring 2020

Taught By: Greta Byrum and Shannon Mattern

Section: AX

CRN: 7491

Credits: 4

While we imagine an Internet that blankets the earth, providing even its most remote and marginalized inhabitants with seamless connectivity, the reality is that a sizeable portion of the world’s population lacks reliable access to a high-speed Internet connection, which is fundamental to so many social practices and daily operations. Here in New York, as across most of the US -- especially in rural and poorer urban areas -- roughly 30% of households still lack access to broadband. The OneNYC 2050 plan calls for updated next-generation digital infrastructure, with a promise to release a first-of-its-kind “city broadband master plan” in late 2019. That plan aspires to enable universal broadband and digital literacy programming access across the five boroughs. Building on existing anthropological, media studies, and urban studies research about infrastructures and digital technologies, this seminar-workshop will engage with NYC’s forthcoming plan to help us better understand the processes by which technical and social infrastructures are designed and built in tandem -- and how the laying of wires and installation of antennae also involve the embodiment of politics and values. We’ll examine the plan to understand its equity implications, identifying gaps and opportunities and suggesting ways to build on the existing work of practitioners, activists, scholars, planners, and designers to create healthier digital ecosystems. We’ll also speak with researchers and activists who’ve practiced media and network ethnography; meet with city officials and local community leaders; embark on field trips around the city; install our own pilot network; and suggest digital equity and community wellness benchmarks and metrics to improve the outcomes of the digital master plan.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Anthropology (LANT)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: February 9, 2020 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: May 13, 2020 (Wednesday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

*Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 10:06am 5/29/2020 EDT