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Citation Information

Type Conference Paper - Anthropological Forum
Title Drinking money and pulling women: Mobile phone talk, gender, and agency in Vanuatu
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00664677.2015.1071238
This paper examines aspects of gendered discourse around mobile phones in Vanuatu, focusing especially on the talk of high-ranking men from the northern Raga-speaking region of Pentecost Island. Rather than being restricted to the technologies or their direct capacities alone, it is argued that the local reception of new technologies such as mobile phones should be contextualised in terms of broader dialogues of change, and should also take into account the visual and discursive expressions of culture that accompanies them, including in the form of marketing. Examination of the ‘impact’ of such new technologies should also include taking account of broader local meanings and messages that become associated with them. As the ethnography presented here suggests, while mobile phones themselves certainly provide a useful tool for furthering positive social change, such as in the empowerment of women, the meanings and narratives that surround them may by marked contrast entail more negative entrenchments of unequal relations of power.

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