Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana (Acting with Technology) (Hardcover)

Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana (Acting with Technology) Cover Image
This book is harder to get and may take several weeks if available. Please email with questions.


An account of how young people in Ghana's capital city adopt and adapt digital technology in the margins of the global economy.

The urban youth frequenting the Internet cafés of Accra, Ghana, who are decidedly not members of their country's elite, use the Internet largely as a way to orchestrate encounters across distance and amass foreign ties—activities once limited to the wealthy, university-educated classes. The Internet, accessed on second-hand computers (castoffs from the United States and Europe), has become for these youths a means of enacting a more cosmopolitan self. In Invisible Users, Jenna Burrell offers a richly observed account of how these Internet enthusiasts have adopted, and adapted to their own priorities, a technological system that was not designed with them in mind.

Burrell describes the material space of the urban Internet café and the virtual space of push and pull between young Ghanaians and the foreigners they encounter online; the region's famous 419 scam strategies and the rumors of “big gains” that fuel them; the influential role of churches and theories about how the supernatural operates through the network; and development rhetoric about digital technologies and the future viability of African Internet cafés in the region.

Burrell, integrating concepts from science and technology studies and African studies with empirical findings from her own field work in Ghana, captures the interpretive flexibility of technology by users in the margins but also highlights how their invisibility puts limits on their full inclusion into a global network society.

About the Author

Jenna Burrell is Associate Professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley.

Praise For…

In this well-written and compelling book, Burrell deftly supports her conviction that future scholarship must recognize the inconsistencies inherent in the digital experiences of those who live in the margins of our global society.—Practical Matters

This book is a fine, Africa-based contribution to theory in technology studies as well as an empirical achievement that should be of strong interest to the cultural studies community in general. Those of us who work on Africa, youth, new communications technology, or Ghana will be far from its only readers.

Jo Ellen Fair, African Studies Review
Product Details
ISBN: 9780262017367
ISBN-10: 0262017369
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: May 4th, 2012
Pages: 248
Language: English
Series: Acting with Technology