Drawing on case study material, the paper focuses on ways in which definitions of ‘media’ and other technical objects act to promote or prevent ‘connection’. In a development context, the ways in which new media objects such as ICTs are defined in relation to other objects, people and institutions map out new figurations of power and connection, or new ‘technological zones’ (Barry), that revalue and recombine political agency. Consideration of the politics of technology needs to be moved away from seeing ICTs as neutral tools to be enabled or as problematic interventions to be contained; rather, we need to be able to make visible and negotiable the possible communicative assemblages that might be produced.

Speaker: Dr Don Slater, London School of Economics

Don Slater is a Reader in Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Don Slater’s Internet research has focused on ethnographic approaches to the new media, and has so far included an ethnography of Internet use in Trinidad – The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach, with Prof Daniel Miller (Berg: 2000); and a study of on-line pornography traders. He conducted an ethnography of community radio and internet in rural Sri Lanka (with Peter Lewis, LSE, and Jo Tacchi, QUT, under the auspices of UNESCO and DfID), which has been followed by a UNESCO programme of ethnographic action research with nine ICT projects in South Asia, and a two-year DfID-funded programme of comparative ethnographies of new media in India, Ghana, South Africa and Jamaica (with Daniel Miller, Jo Tacchi and Andrew Skuse).