Over the years, the cellphone or the mobile phone ceased to be just an extension of the landline telephone as a range of locative, social and networked media converged into it. Thus, the complicated mobile device that scholars research today might more appositely be termed “mobile media” rather than just “mobile phone.” And yet, particular histories and futures of telephone, including proto-skype technologies like videophone, are elided in the shift of nomenclature from mobile phone to mobile media. Even as they have global impact, mobile media technologies influence and are influenced by socio-cultural factors in specific places, and so mobile phone cultures are both global and local at the same time. The mobile phone subject as a national and global citizen today uses smartphone capabilities for many different everyday needs and desires, including interfacing with the government services, entrepreneurial pursuits, and organizing social movements.
In this course, we will be studying the revolutions in youth culture, desire, gender norms, and political propaganda that are emerging as new hardware, apps, and internet services are being added to mobile media. Some of the questions we will be addressing are: How have social media transformed socialities as ephemeral snaps and swiped intimacies become part of the “new” phone cultures? In countries like India and Brazil, how are WhatsApp and viral spread of political propaganda connected? How is mobileTV consumed differently in Cuba and United States? In whats ways has the success of WeChat in China thrown up new challenges to data analytics strategies? How has mobile internet revolutionized streaming video cultures in different parts of the world? What platforms and infrastructures enable the smartphone to function so efficiently? What are the ethics of using cell phone-only dating apps and the complications with taking pictures through the mobile phone camera? In what ways have memory cards changed the way people listen to and access “pirated” music? How are immigrants and diasporic subjects using the cell phone as connective infrastructures? Assignments will include using mobile phones to create Instagram curations as well as a written final paper (about 2000 words).