Networks & Information


The Anthropology of Connection in the digital age

Course Description

Over the past few decades, a new era of connectivity has been emerging – one largely convened over digital technologies and social media. At the core of this mode of connectivity is the transmission of information over vast networks of cables, devices, and individuals. With a dual interest in the anthropology of networks and the anthropology of information, this course examines the conditions and dynamics of how we connect in the digital age. Connection is not only to one another, but to our bodies, affects, physical environments, and a host of social, cultural, political and economic relations. The aim is to interrogate how processes, objects, and individuals connect in a world characterized by increased flows of information via vast decentralized networks.

The first half of the course examines theoretical and conceptual questions, defining ‘the digital’, ‘networks,” ‘information’, ‘technological ontology’, and “order and control” in the digital age. The next half looks at specific empirical forms of connection. We will explore virtual worlds, social media and digital publics, the digital body, mobility and physical place, sex and love, and viral fame. The course focuses on anthropological materials, but draws from across philosophy, sociology, and cultural studies.

Taught Winter 2017, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto.