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Anthropology of the Information Society


Admission requirements

Only the following categories of students can register for this course:

  • Students enrolled for the BA programme “Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie” at Leiden University who have passed the Propedeuse

  • Exchange and Study Abroad students

Please see the registration procedure below.


In this course we critically investigate the encroaching notion that ‘we’ live in an ‘information society.’ Some of the questions that we will concern ourselves with: What are the social, material and ideological foundations that support the notion that ‘we’ live in the information society? What is this obsession with ‘information’? How is the information society lived in different regions of the world? How do people across the world construct their notions of ‘truth’ in the information society and what kind of truths carry the farthest? What does it mean to be politically active in the information society? And what does it mean to conduct anthropological research in and of ‘the information society’? We will look at a wide variety of information-society related phenomena, varying from ‘transhumanism’ to ICT4D projects; from privacy-activist groups to technophobes, from high-tech spirituality to e-waste.

Course objectives

  • students will be able to partake in critical discussions regarding the political, cultural and economic factors that govern the global dispersion of information technologies;

  • they will develop some ‘hands-on’ skills regarding hardware and software, they familiarize themselves with the practice of doing ‘online ethnography’, and will become aware of the kinds of political choices we implicitly make by using particular types of information technologies;

  • they will familiarize themselves with recent critical debates regarding the ‘information society’ and learn to identify the various ideological and political purposes to which ICT is put to use by differently-positioned groups around the world.

Time table

Thursdays 6 September to 15 November 2012, 10-13 h
Location: Room 5A37, Pieter de la Court Building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden
The AQCI’s are to be handed in each week (last one is due on November 15th)
Final paper is due on November 29th.

Methods of instruction

Total 10 ECTS = 280 study hours (sbu):

  • Lectures 10×3 h = 30 sbu

  • Student presentations (werkgroepen) 12 hrs = 24 sbu

  • Study of literature (+/- 1000 pp) and weekly assignments about it (AQCI’s) = 170 sbu

  • Final paper 6 pp (3600 words) = 48 sbu

Assessment method

  • Nine AQCI assignments (1 per week) – 75 % of the final grade

  • Final paper (6 pages = 3600 words) – 25 % of the final grade

  • Participation in discussions

  • One in-class presentation per student

  • Presence in class (at least 8 out of 10 sessions should be attended)


Blackboard module will be active from the 25 August and will be used for posting assignments and other course related information.
Students who have been granted admission must register for this course on Blackboard.

Reading list

Available through Blackboard.


  • Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply for the exchange programme.
    Only those exchange students whose admission to this particular course has already been approved, need to register for this course in Usis and on Blackboard.

  • BA studenten CA-OS van Universiteit Leiden:
    Inschrijving geschiedt via Usis, alleen voor “hoorcollege HC” en “tentamen TEN”. Bij problemen met Usis-inschrijving, raadpleeg de Usis-helpdesk van de FSW.
    Bij aanhoudende problemen, stuur een mailtje naar met het verzoek om je op de deelnemerslijst van de themamodule te zetten.

Contact information

Dorien Zandbergen:
Consulting hours: Thursdays 13.15 – 14.15 h