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A sense of place

Study links information and communications technology to political 'place-making' efforts

University of Chicago Press Journals

Cyberspace is widely considered to be lacking geography, rendering borders and distances irrelevant in a globalizing world. As a result, few have focused on how the very technologies that created the virtual space of the internet are also used to delineate physical locales.

A new study in the forthcoming issue of Current Anthropology focuses on how information and communications technologies (ICTs) are used heavily in "place-making"--that is, in establishing the importance and reputation of particular places. By focusing on the promotion of ICTs throughout the public sector in Europe, author Sarah Green (University of Manchester) shows how ICTs have become as much a part of political place-making projects as did many other transportation and communication technologies in the past, including telegraph, rail, and fiber optics.

Specifically, the research charts how a range of publicly funded organizations and projects sought to realize ideals and hopes for their regions through ICT development projects. As Green explains: "Attempts to forge these new kinds of connections (networked connections) were based on the desire to overcome existing social, economic, and political problems, rather than on the belief that these technologies might create some new, space-less, place."

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Sponsored by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Current Anthropology is a highly respected transnational journal devoted to research on humankind, encompassing the full range of anthropological scholarship on human cultures and on the human and other primate species. Communicating across the subfields, the journal features papers in a wide variety of areas, including social, cultural, and physical anthropology as well as ethnology and ethnohistory, archaeology and prehistory, folklore, and linguistics. For more information, please see our Web site: www.journals.uchicago.edu/CA.

Green, Sarah; Harvey, Penny; Knox, Hannah. "Scales of Place and Networks: An Ethnography of the Imperative to Connect through Information and Communications Technologies." Current Anthropology 46:5.

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