Before the call: mobile phones, exchange relations, and social change in South-western Uganda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article contributes to recent attempts to provide ethnographically and historically nuanced accounts of Africa's mobile phone ‘revolution’. It does so by examining the coming of mobile phones in one particular place and time: Bugamba Sub-County, in rural Mbarara District, South-western Uganda, between the years 2000 and 2012. In so doing, it extends recent anthropological scepticism regarding the transformative potential of mobile communication per se, by showing how in this case, the most notable effects generated by mobile telephony were in fact those produced by a series of exchanges of phone-related objects, which took place in a sense ‘prior’ to communication. These circulations effected a kind of ‘time–space expansion’, which allowed for new imaginaries of physical and social mobility. The article illustrates these arguments through a detailed examination of the mobile spaces of taxis, and through a discussion of changing burial practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-290
Number of pages17
JournalEthnos
Volume83
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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Uganda
social change
communication
Social Mobility
funeral
district
examination
Mobile Phone
time
Burial Practices
Revolution
Mobile Telephony
Physical
Africa
Phone
Communication
Mobile Communication
Skepticism

Cite this

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abstract = "This article contributes to recent attempts to provide ethnographically and historically nuanced accounts of Africa's mobile phone ‘revolution’. It does so by examining the coming of mobile phones in one particular place and time: Bugamba Sub-County, in rural Mbarara District, South-western Uganda, between the years 2000 and 2012. In so doing, it extends recent anthropological scepticism regarding the transformative potential of mobile communication per se, by showing how in this case, the most notable effects generated by mobile telephony were in fact those produced by a series of exchanges of phone-related objects, which took place in a sense ‘prior’ to communication. These circulations effected a kind of ‘time–space expansion’, which allowed for new imaginaries of physical and social mobility. The article illustrates these arguments through a detailed examination of the mobile spaces of taxis, and through a discussion of changing burial practices.",
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Before the call: mobile phones, exchange relations, and social change in South-western Uganda. / Vokes, R.

In: Ethnos, Vol. 83, No. 2, 2018, p. 274-290.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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