In this podcast Jenny speaks with Sibel Kusimba about her book Reimagining Money: Kenya in the Digital Finance Revolution. Sibel explains how digital finance draws upon longstanding practices of reciprocity and exchange in Kenyan society, but she also discusses some of the ways digital money is reconfiguring social lives and relations. Their conversation highlights how anthropological perspectives can enhance understandings of the way money takes on multiple meanings in social life.
In this episode Jenny Huberman speaks with Jim Smith, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Davis, about his new book, The Eyes of the World: Mining the Digital Age in the Eastern Congo. Their conversation focuses on people who are the very center of powering the digital age but who most listeners will likely know little about: the artisanal miners and traders who work in the forests of Eastern Congo to extract minerals that are used to produce many of the digital technologies we reply upon today. Jim explains how the extractive industry of artisanal mining not only keeps the wheels of digital capitalism spinning, but also becomes a generative practice through which miners imagine and construct social lives and relationships that defy many of the dominant logics of capitalism. In so doing, he makes a powerful case for the role anthropology can play in enhancing and complexifying our understandings of capitalism in the digital age.
In this episode, Jenny Huberman speaks with anthropologist, media scholar, and Senior Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, Mary L. Gray. They discuss Mary’s highly acclaimed book, Ghost Work: How to prevent Silicon Valley from creating a Global Underclass, which she co-authored with Siddharth Suri. Their conversation explores the experiences of on-demand platform workers, as well as the way the platform economy is changing conceptions of work and employment more generally. In discussing how digital technologies are radically reconfiguring work for millions of people around the globe, Mary also challenges the idea that digital technologies will inevitably render human labor obsolete in the future. Humans, she reminds us, do certain kinds of work that cannot be attended to by A.I. or other automated processes, and thus, they are likely to remain “in the loop” for many years to come.
In this episode, Jenny Huberman speaks with Jathan Sadowski, a research fellow in the Emerging Technologies Research Lab at Monash University and author of Too Smart: How Digital Capitalism is Extracting Data, Controlling Our Lives, and Taking Over the World. They discuss how digital capitalism is both similar to and different from, previous forms of capital accumulation and domination and they discuss some of the ways smart technologies are used to facilitate these processes. While Sadowski offers a trenchant critique of the way smart technologies are used to enhance corporate technocratic power, he also provides listeners with some paths for resisting, if not reforming capitalism in the digital age.