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ANTH 2590 The Internet Is Another Country -- Community and Power in the Age of Social Media

Rafael Alvarado

In this course we explore the Internet, and related networks of people and devices, as an historically unique global media ecology in which new forms of social organization and cultural practice have emerged since its beginnings in the late 1960s. Using anthropological understandings of community, nation, and public sphere as our starting point, we explore the history of the Internet as both a product and producer of the beliefs and practices of specific communities, from engineers employed by the US military to hippie communes to Persian bloggers to the Anonymous movement. Along the way, we explore how the Internet has created a space for new forms of social action and political imagination which both challenge and reproduce established institutions such as the nation state, the newspaper, and the corporation. In addition, we explore how the Internet itself, as an assemblage of technologies and technical practices, has changed from a network for the communication of messages to a politically contested sphere of exchange in which social data has become a form of territory.


Attendance is strongly encouraged but not required -- I will not be taking roll. You will be responsible for all content that is covered during lecture. Note that not all lecture content will be found in the readings. Instructions for the following assignments will be forthcoming and posted on the course site.

Tentative list of assessments:

  • Digital Assignment 1 (10%) -- Personal Profile

  • Digital Assignment 2 (15%) -- On-line Community

  • Mid-term Exam (15%) -- Take-home

  • Digital Assignment 3 (35%) -- Project

  • Final Exam (25%) -- Take-home

    Due dates are listed on the Schedule.
    All exams will be delivered via Collab's Test & Quizzes tool.


Readings and Content

All of the readings (which includes videos and other web resources) for this course, with the exception of the text below, will be found online; they will be made available as links on the course schedule in Collab. The following book, available at Newcomb Hall, is also required:

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities


Course Number: 
ANTH 2590
DH Certificate requirement : 
MAO Materials: