Lake Polan

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9268

Approve Date

April 11, 2016

Project Title

Polan, Lake C., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'The Techno-Politics of American Privacy,' supervised by Dr. Joseph P. Masco

Preliminary abstract: This project examines the technological reconstitution of privacy in America through an ethnographic study of the efforts of Silicon Valley area corporations to ‘save’ privacy on the Internet using technology. Such efforts respond to the widespread perception that the reorientations of global business and governance around increasingly cheap, pervasive, and powerful forms of digital monitoring, storage, and analysis have upended privacy’s long-standing logic and expectations in the United States. The project asks, how do the conceptual, practical, political economic, and affective coordinates of privacy change in the U.S. as privacy becomes an object of design and engineering on the Internet? In answering this question, the project seeks to contribute to the development of a socio-cultural anthropology of privacy by ethnographically analyzing privacy not as a legal or philosophical doctrine with set content, but as a domain of social and cultural action and creativity, powered by a particular semiotic logic and bounded by a constellation of affects, sensibilities, and values. In generating an ethnographic account of privacy in the U.S. that is more faithful to its diverse ways of being in the world, the project additionally aims to contribute to continuing anthropological debates on U.S. culture and politics, technology and infrastructure, and liberalism.