Ethnography, Corporate Knowledge and the Mobile Phone Consumer in Cambodia

Event details

PSC Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 01 April 2014


PSC Reading Room, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra


Daniel McFarlane, PhD candidate


Kerrie Hogan
+61 2 6125 2167


This paper is based on ethnographic research into the marketing and consumption of mobile services in Cambodia and focuses on the central figures of neoliberal development doctrine: multinational corporations and the rural and poor consumer. My approach is two pronged. I take a vantage point inside a consumer research firm and explore how corporate knowledge of the Cambodian consumer is constructed. Simultaneously, I take the position of an ethnographer exploring the use of mobile phones in the socio-cultural projects of Cambodians. Based on this approach I contrast ethnographic and corporate constructions of knowledge. Both forms of knowledge, I argue, have their own paradigms written into them. However, it is corporate knowledge plagued by scientism and classism that is projected on the population through value statements and resource distribution. Thus, I use this research as a case to argue for a more public anthropology that wields ethnography in a struggle against corporate forms of scientism and classism in Cambodia and elsewhere. I believe that only through deconstructing corporate knowledge can alternatives gain prominence. 

About the speaker:

Daniel McFarlane is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political and Social Change at the Australian National University. He conducted field research in Cambodia between 2010 and 2012. His research interests include economic anthropology, ethnography of marketing and markets, communication technologies and development, mainland South East Asian studies, and Japanese studies. He has lived in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Cambodia. Currently he teaches Japanese language and calls Bangkok home. 

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