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New Media, Development and Globalization: Making Connections in the Global South



New Media, Development and Globalization: Making Connections in the Global South

Don Slater

ISBN: 978-0-745-63833-1 December 2013 Polity 242 Pages


New media, development and globalization are the key terms through which the future is being imagined and performed in governance, development initiatives and public and political discourse. Yet these authoritative terms have arisen within particular cultural and ideological contexts. In using them, we risk promoting over-generalized and seemingly unchallengeable frameworks for action and knowledge production which can blind us to the complex global patterns and promise of social reality.

This compelling book forces us to look at these terms afresh. Drawing on more than ten years of ethnographic fieldwork in Latin America, West Africa and South Asia, Don Slater seeks to challenge these terms as voicing specific northern narratives rather than universal truths, and to see them from the perspective of southern people and communities who are equally concerned to understand new machines for communication, new models of social change and new maps of social connection. The central question the book poses is: how we can democratize the ways we think and practise new media, development and globalization, opening these terms to dialogue and challenge within North-South relations?

Rooted in sociological debates, New Media, Development and Globalization will also be a provocative contribution to media and cultural studies, studies of digital culture, development studies, geography and anthropology.

Acknowledgements vi

1 Introduction: Frames and Dialogues 1

2 Communicative Ecology and Communicative Assemblages 27

3 Media Forms and Practices 68

4 Making Up the Future: New Media as the Material Culture of Development 99

5 Scaling Practices and Devices: Globalizing Globalization 130

6 Conclusion: Politics of Research: Forms of Knowledge, Participation and Generalization 155

Notes 189

References 191

Index 205

''Communications media play an accelerating role in social change and global connections. But what people make of them is not determined by technology nor by the way technologies are used in rich countries of the global north. With rich ethnographic narratives, Don Slater offers a truly global look at how the meaning of technologies is shaped by people who use them in settings from Sri Lanka to Ghana to Trinidad. People working in development agencies and living in local communities become part of the same analysis, as Slater wisely and helpfully stresses the kind of symmetries identified by Paulo Freire's model of learning.''
Craig Calhoun, Director, London School of Economics and Political Science

''This is a book of really major importance that could have been written by no one else; its core thesis is both powerful and urgent. Slater draws on a remarkable series of empirical projects on “new media for development” which enable him to speak with real authority about what is wrong and what might remain useful about notions of “development” and the use of networking resources in “development” settings. It will have a major impact in the fields of media sociology and media studies, media-for-development and media anthropology.''
Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London

''In this book, Slater brilliantly brings together a range of ethnographic engagements with theoretical interests in reshaping our understandings of “media,” “development,” and “globalization.” His analysis speaks powerfully to questions of knowledge production and social justice in emerging contexts of both global inequality and global coalition.''
Tom Boellstorff, University of California, Irvine

  • An original path-breaking intervention into how we think about new media and its role in development
  • Shows in theoretical and practical terms how current thinking about new media and development is blinding us to complex global patterns of social action
  • Draws on more than ten years of fieldwork carried out in Latin America, West Africa and South Asia
  • Written by a leading thinker and authority in the fields of cultural sociology and anthropology