The digitalia of everyday life: Multi-situated anthropology of a virtual letter by a “foreign hand”

Raminder KAUR


The article considers the transmissions and effects of a digital letter, and its implications for multi-situated—as opposed to a multi-sited—anthropology. Multi-situated moves beyond multiple sites as supplementary contexts to the life flows of people, materials, and ideas, to consider multi-ontological, dynamic, and temporally contingent situations constitutive of such movements in the making, that are embedded and/or enfolded along several intersecting planes on- and offline. The public letter was written collaboratively in May 2012 by activists in Britain, agreed to and signed off by supportive British members of Parliament among others, and addressed to the then prime minister of India and the chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu. The letter’s contents pertained to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in south India, with concerns about mandatory procedures in the construction of a nuclear power station, and democratic and human rights abuses against nonviolent protestors. By focusing on the emergence, travels, and receptive trajectories of the letter, the article makes a case for the increasing need to encompass aspects of digital anthropology not as a discrete subdiscipline, but as an integral part of core anthropological focus and method for the study of “onlife” entanglements—what effectively has become the digitalia of everyday life.


field, ethnography, social media, documents, digital anthropology, nuclear power, transnationalism, nation-state, India

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/705581