Tanja Winther and Harold Wilhite: Tentacles of Modernity: Why Electricity Needs Anthropology
In Cultural Anthropology
New technologies require new solutions for organizing social life, triggering negotiations, conflict, and potentials for social transformation, but may also be used by groups in power to further strengthen their positions. At the same time, electricity forms a central element of contemporary existence and the sense of modern belonging. This is why the study of electrification as a social phenomenon is likely to provide food for thought in conversations about modernity, materiality, and sustainability. Identifying the changes electrification brings to social relations, cultural practices, and human-nature relationships raises new theoretical and empirical challenges for anthropologists, yet the sociocultural dynamics of electrification have not yet drawn the attention they deserve from anthropology.