In the beginning of March 2018, Angie Heo gave a talk in our visiting seminar and we used this great opportunity to speak about her research. The interview, which is presented to you here in an audio form, was conducted in a collaboration with the LSE Religion and Global Society, and you can find its written version on their website.
Angie Heo is Assistant Professor of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion at the University of Chicago. Her first book is The Political Lives of Saints: Christian-Muslim Mediation in Egypt (University of California Press, 2018).
Tenhunen, Sirpa 2018. A Village Goes Mobile: Telephony, Mediation, and Social Change in Rural India. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190630270.
In A Village Goes Mobile: Telephony, Mediation and Social Change in Rural India, Sirpa Tenhunen examines how the mobile telephone has contributed to social change in rural India. Tenhunen’s long-term ethnographic fieldwork in West Bengal began before the village had a phone system in place and continued through the introduction and proliferation of the smartphone. She here analyzes how mobile telephones emerged as multidimensional objects which, in addition to enabling telephone conversations, facilitated status aspirations, internet access, and entertainment practices. She explores how this multifaceted use of mobile phones has affected agency and power dynamics in economic, political, and social relationships, and how these new social constellations relate to culture and development.
In eight chapters, Tenhunen asks such questions as: Who benefits from mobile telephony and how? Can people use mobile phones to change their lives, or does phone use merely amplify existing social patterns and power relationships? Can mobile telephony induce development? Going beyond the case of West Bengal, Tenhunen develops a framework to understand how new media mediates social processes within interrelated social spheres and local hierarchies by relating, mediasaturated forms of interaction to pre-existing contexts.