The mobile phone, 'modernity' and change in Khartoum, Sudan

TitleThe mobile phone, 'modernity' and change in Khartoum, Sudan
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsI. Brinkman, M.E. de Bruijn, and H. Bilal
EditorM.E. de Bruijn, and I. Brinkman
Secondary TitleMobile phones: the new talking drums of everyday Africa
Pagination69 - 91
Date Published2009///
PublisherLangaa Publishers
Place PublishedBamenda: Cameroon
Publication Languageeng
ISSN Number978-9956558537
KeywordsAfrican studies, mobile phone, mobility, modernization, Sudan, telecommunications

This chapter considers the appropriation of the mobile phone in Khartoum, Sudan, and its sociocultural impact. The chapter is based on research carried out as a pilot study in the framework of collaboration between the telecom company Zain and the African Studies Centre Leiden, which started in July 2007. The study examined the interaction between new ICT and social relations, especially regarding mobility patterns, in Karima, a small town in the north of Sudan, Juba in southern Sudan, and Khartoum, the capital city. Central to the study are local interpretations and meanings attributed to the mobile phone. These new dynamics involve topics as diverse as morality, landscape, family ties, and linguistic puns. The authors show that over the ten years that the mobile phone has been around in Khartoum, there has been a shift from it being a status symbol for the well-to-do to it being used by the middle classes and even poorer people. Aspects of mobile phone culture show not only in new discourse on numbers, but also in the names given to mobile phones and the ways in which people discuss 'modernity' in relation to the mobile phone. The Khartoum case reveals that the mobile phone's presence has led to the development of a totally new economic sector. The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research. Bibliogr., notes. [ASC Leiden abstract]

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Citation Key5254