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Welcome to the Digital Village: Networking Geographies of Agrarian Change
September 19, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Almost 5 billion people—two thirds of the global population—now go online. The Internet has changed how we work, learn, govern, and fall in love. Yet despite its digital turn, geography has failed to grapple with the patterns and significance of Internet connection for rural people and places, particularly in the Global South. This talk brings together agrarian studies and digital geography to situate emergent online practices within longer trajectories of agrarian change. To do so, I advance the concept of the digital village, a networked social space in which online practices emerge from existing agrarian relations to reconfigure the strategies of economic survival, the landscapes of home, and the tactics of politics. Drawing on ethnographic research in Myanmar, I show how agrarian relations shape patterns of digital connection and how farmers, migrants, and grassroots activists incorporate Facebook into daily efforts to secure livelihoods, support communities, and mobilize politically. This analysis yields two key insights: first, digital geographies are embedded in rural relations; second, agrarian questions increasingly play out online.
Dr. Hilary Faxon investigates environment, development and technology in Southeast Asia. She is currently working on her first book, ‘Surviving the State: Struggles for Land and Democracy in Myanmar,’ which provides an intimate ethnography of agrarian and political
change during Myanmar’s decade of military democracy, and a second project that incorporates grounded perspectives from Southeast Asia into theorizations of development in the digital age. She is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Social Science at the University of Montana, on leave this year as a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Copenhagen.
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