Living in hype: Tanzanian technologists and health for all in an era of techno-optimism
Advocates of novel technologies often claim them to be radically new panaceas for a variety of social problems. Critical scholars, including anthropologists, are suspicious of such claims. Arguing these technologies are surround by too much hype, they typically work to dispel it. In contrast to critical scholars, Tanzanian technologists working on digital healthcare technologies have had to remain close to hype; they live in it, reflect upon it, while also, at times, disparage it. Paying close ethnographic attention to hype as an object to be understood rather than dispelled, means suspending an attempt to get to one reality in order to better understand another. This prevents the premature closure of explorations of alternative, including African, tech worlds in the making.
BIOGRAPHY Tom Neumark is an anthropologist with a long-standing interest in technology, humanitarianism and welfare in East Africa. He is currently researching digital and data-driven health technologies in Tanzania, as part of the ERC-funded project, Universal Health Coverage and the Public Good in Africa. His previous research on cash grants and care in urban Kenya has been published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute and in a forthcoming book with Pluto Press.