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Our race and gender might become irrelevant or invisible.
She suggests that just at the point where real cross-cultural connection was starting to unfold online, discourse about a borderless internet became unfashionable.
She notes that ethnographers are famous for their microfocus.
When she published her book, a Facebook friend joked, “How odd, I just finished my book on youth in the internet cafes of suburban Ghana!
Jenna doing fieldwork in Ghana Her talk today covers some of the work she began in 2004 and published last year, but expands in some new directions, including questions about network security and preserving access in the margins of the Global Internet.
Burrell’s understanding of Ghana has been built up through six years of fieldwork, both on how non-elite Ghanaians use the internet, and on how Ghana’s internet has literally been built, from recycled and repurposed computer equipment.
Burrell notes that early conversations about the internet often featured the idea that in online spaces, we transcend our physical limits and are able to talk to people anywhere in the world.
But when Internet connectivity finally arrived after the turn of the 21st century, many of these optimistic youth struggled to form connections with the foreigners they encountered online.
New research by School of Information professor Jenna Burrell looks under the surface of Internet culture in Ghana, exploring why many of Ghana’s hopes went unrealized and how Ghanaians have responded.
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