Eleanor Marchant’s research brings an ethnographic eye to the examination of innovations around new technologies in Africa. For her dissertation, she conducted a year-long ethnography of the technology sector in Nairobi, Kenya, focusing predominantly on the role of narratives about technology, entrepreneurship, and development in shaping how the sector is structured, how it grows, and how Kenyans are engaging with the global technology industry. Her work pays particular attention to how narratives about Africa and Africans and techno-utopian narratives from Silicon Valley about technology entrepreneurship as the vehicle for global social progress are influencing the work of technology innovators in Kenya. More broadly, she is interested in how identities and new technologies intersect in Africa, and in Africa’s positionality in the global technology industry, particularly in terms of how forms of labor are changing. Her work is interdisciplinary in focus, drawing particularly from Anthropology, Africana Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Management, and Information and Communication Technologies for Development. She is driven by conducting work that has relevance beyond academia.
Marchant has been a fellow at the Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS) at the University of Pennsylvania and collaborates with CGCS on a number of research projects. She has also held fellowships at the Programme in Comparative Media Law & Policy, the Media Institute in Nairobi, and most recently at iHub Research in Nairobi where she did conduct participant observation as part of her fieldwork. Prior to returning to academia, she worked as a media investment and development practitioner with a focus in the West and East African regions for both Media Development Investment Fund and Freedom House. In her research, she strives to conduct research that merges her past and present lives and crosses the academic/practitioner divide as well as the for-profit and non-profit sectors. She has a Masters in International Relations from New York University and a Bachelors in Economics and Political Science from the University of Bristol, UK.