Non-/Human Infrastructures and Digital Gifts: The Cables, Waves and Brokers of Solomon Islands Internet

Stephanie Ketterer Hobbis*, Geoffrey Hobbis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This article demonstrates how nonhuman and human infrastructural assemblages, and the brokers that operate as assemblers within them, give rise to localised Internets. With an ethnographic emphasis on the digital transformations of Solomon Islands, we examine agentive brokerage practices surrounding digital multimedia files, downloaded off the global Internet and circulated offline as gifts via MicroSDs. We show how digital brokers use their comparatively unique manoeuvrability within digital infrastructural assemblages. They extend the Internet to offline rural environments, while following and strengthening local systems of moral economic social reproduction. Recognising the interconnectedness of human and nonhuman actors, these brokers are also dependent on the broader infrastructural assemblages in which they operate, especially the cables and waves that initially allow digital bits to travel to Solomon Islands. Localised Internets such as Solomon Islands are, thus, continuously in flux, being perpetually reassembled by the agentive practices of their constituent parts.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages23
JournalEthnos
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • brokers
  • gifts
  • Infrastructures
  • Internet
  • morality

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