PARGC Distinguished Lecture in Global Communication featuring Arjun Appadurai

The Academic Digital Divide and Uneven Global Development
01 Oct 2015 - 5:15pm to 7:30pm
Annenberg School for Communication, Room 109
Open to the Public


Much has been written about the digital divide as a matter of technology, justice and global inequality. What has been less discussed is the role of the academic disciplines of communication and media studies in the growth of this divide. The most powerful theoretical work in these fields, especially in the United States, is on screens, algorithms, clouds, grids and networks, all of which are recent high-tech phenomena mostly born in Silicon Valley. The focus on these topics, in light of developments in media archaeology, actor-network theory and science and technology studies, is largely rooted in recent, cutting edge Western tech innovations. For this reason, these disciplinary developments threaten to create a gap, a chasm of non-communication, between scholars in the West and others working and living elsewhere. In turn, this gap has the potential for re-creating older forms of knowledge-based imperialism and scholarly apartheid, which should be especially abhorrent to scholars working on communication and media from a global perspective. This lecture describes these dangers and possible ways to avoid them.


Arjun Appadurai is the Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, where he is also Senior Fellow at the Institute for Public Knowledge. He serves as Honorary Professor in the Department of Media and Communication, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Tata Chair Professor at The Tata Institute for Social Sciences, Mumbai and as a Senior Research Partner at the Max-Planck Institute for Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Gottingen. He was previously Senior Advisor for Global Initiatives at The New School in New York City, where he also held a Distinguished Professorship as the John Dewey Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences. Arjun Appadurai was the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The New School from 2004-2006. He was formerly the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor of International Studies, Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Center on Cities and Globalization at Yale University. Appadurai is the founder and now the President of PUKAR (Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research), a non-profit organization based in and oriented to the city of Mumbai (India).

During his academic career, he has also held professorial chairs at Yale University, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has held visiting appointments at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the University of Delhi, the University of Michigan, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Iowa, Columbia University and New York University. He has authored numerous books and scholarly articles, including Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger (Duke 2006) and Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, (Minnesota 1996; Oxford India 1997). His books have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese and Italian. Appadurai’s latest book, The Future as a Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition was published by Verso in 2013.

PARGC will host a cocktail reception for those attending the lecture in the Forum from 5:15pm - 6:00pm.

​To attend, please RSVP here.

Contact Marina Krikorian at

Featured Photo Credit: some rights reserved by Eric Fischer.

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