October 15, 2014: Mobile Economies
In September 2014 Apple unveiled its new iPhone 6, which also features Apple Pay, a mobile payment system. Although mobile payments have been slow to take off in the United States and other countries, they are extremely popular in Kenya, where billions of dollars are transacted by almost 20 million account holders. Development economists hope that mobile money will be a part of a new “cash-light” future, bringing the benefits of financial inclusion to millions in developing settings.
The webinar takes an anthropological view of mobile money in Western Kenya as a form of communication, shaped by local cultures of friendship and kinship, and by the direct and often private connections that mobile phones allow. I use social network analysis to examine features such as reciprocity, centrality, and brokerage in the social networks of mobile money. This webinar will engage us in a conversation about the use of mobile phones cross culturally, and about how we can use new methods to understand the cultural and social impact of mobile phones.
Sibel Kusimba is an anthropologist in residence at American University. She has been conducting anthropological fieldwork in Kenya since 1993. Her initial research interests were in Paleolithic, protohistoric and recent hunter-gatherers; her 2003 book, African Foragers, was named an outstanding academic book by the American Library Association. Since living through the mobile phone revolution in Africa, her interests have turned to the social and cultural impact of mobile phone communication, in particular the use of mobile money. For two field seasons she has traced the social networks of mobile money in families and communities, sponsored by the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at the University of California at Irvine.
The event is complimentary, and you can register here. When it’s time to join in, the attendee password will be “anthro” and be sure to add the event to your calendar to stay up to date: