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Digital apartheid: an ethnographic account of racialised HCI in Cape Town hip-hop

Lookup NU author(s): Dr John Vines


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We describe findings from a 15-month ethnography of hip-hop performers in Cape Town, South Africa. Mobile communications and social media are hugely important to the development of these performers' careers, opening access to collaborators, production tools, audiences and distribution channels. This group go to extraordinary lengths to gain and maintain access to these technologies, often by exploiting their social capital through musical and ethnic networks. We document that even after nearly twenty years of democracy, a ridged separation along racial lines persists, which can be seen in all areas of life including access to and proficiency in digital technologies. We illustrate how hip-hop performers harness these divisions both on and offline in order to distinguish themselves from other artists. Our research raises a number of implications for post-colonial computing, highlighting difficulties related to discontinuous access, and how international preconceptions of identity and authenticity emerge as a consequence of the increased use of communication technology.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pritchard G, Vines J

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Year of Conference: 2013

Pages: 2537-2446

Publisher: ACM Press


DOI: 10.1145/2470654.2481350

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

Series Title: CHI 2013: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

ISBN: 9781450318990