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Ethnography of Capital and Power: Towards an Ecology of Publicness

Research period:2018.10-2023.3





This joint study will pursue a deeper anthropological inquiry into the concept of public interest from the perspectives of “selfishness” and “economy.” To that end, we will focus on the practices of various stakeholders (companies, NGOs, individuals, and communities) that seek to profit from recent advances in information and communications technology. We will then perform an ethnographic comparison of examples of public spaces and networks that have emerged from the interactions of selfish stakeholders involved in supplying basic necessities for life (food, shelter, education, health care, welfare, etc.). Through these considerations, we will devise strategies to develop anthropological solutions to problems affecting the public interest within the global political and economic setting. This will also be an inquiry into how societies arise from conditions that do not guarantee their existence. To that end, this joint study will (1) place its focus on the selfish actions of diverse stakeholders striving to ensure their own survival under conditions that do not presuppose the existence of a civil society or its normative values; (2) devote attention to economies that comprise interactions accompanied by flows of materials and energy; (3) view as an emergent social phenomenon those circumstances that allow such economies to create spaces and networks invested with a specific set of values and ethics, and, through the consideration of these mechanisms, develop an “ecology of the public interest.”