Water, Energy, Access: Collaborative Research on Internet and Mobile Phone Infrastructures in Rural Zambia

7 Nov 2013
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

470 Stephens Hall

Event Type

Lisa Parks
Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

Macha is a rural community in the southern province of Zambia and is home to 130,000 Tonga people. The community is the site of an historic mission, a hospital and malaria research institute, several schools, a local open-air market, and a landing strip, all of which are connected to the nation’s electrical grid. Most Machans, however, live off the grid in small, scattered homesteads across vast distances. Many are subsistence farmers and the average income of those in the community is $1 per day. It costs $30 per month for a voucher to access the Internet. In this talk I will explore the installation and use of Internet and mobile phone infrastructures in Macha. I will present findings based on collaborative ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Macha in 2012 and 2013, and will discuss 4 main issues: 1) the resource requirements needed to sustain information technologies in remote, rural settings; 2) the physical arrangement and administration of the Internet in Macha; 3) the varying levels of interest in, knowledge about, and uses of Internet and mobile phone technologies among Machans; and 4) local struggles that have emerged in relation to information technologies.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Center for New Media • Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies
Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies

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