The Anthropology of Cybercultures

 A black and white photo of a computer-rendered head projected on a screen.

The Instructor in interaction with Stelarc's Prosthetic Head at the InterAccess Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 29 March 2003. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Clement.)


MIT Course Number

21A.850J / STS.484J

As Taught In

Spring 2009



Cite This Course

Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course explores a range of contemporary scholarship oriented to the study of 'cybercultures,' with a focus on research inspired by ethnographic and more broadly anthropological perspectives. Taking anthropology as a resource for cultural critique, the course will be organized through a set of readings chosen to illustrate central topics concerning the cultural and material practices that comprise digital technologies. We'll examine social histories of automata and automation; the trope of the 'cyber' and its origins in the emergence of cybernetics during the last century; cybergeographies and politics; robots, agents and humanlike machines; bioinformatics and artificial life; online sociality and the cyborg imaginary; ubiquitous and mobile computing; ethnographies of research and development; and geeks, gamers and hacktivists. We'll close by considering the implications for all of these topics of emerging reconceptualizations of sociomaterial relations, informed by feminist science and technology studies.

Related Content

Lucy Suchman. 21A.850J The Anthropology of Cybercultures. Spring 2009. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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