The Digitizing Family

An Ethnography of Melanesian Smartphones

  • Geoffrey Hobbis

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Geoffrey Hobbis
      Pages 3-30
    3. Geoffrey Hobbis
      Pages 31-53
  3. The Many Lives and Deaths of the Melanesian Smartphone

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 55-55
    2. Geoffrey Hobbis
      Pages 73-93
  4. SIM Card Culture and Digitizing Kin Networks

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 95-95
    2. Geoffrey Hobbis
      Pages 97-121
    3. Geoffrey Hobbis
      Pages 123-142
  5. MicroSD Culture and Digital Parenting

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 143-143
    2. Geoffrey Hobbis
      Pages 145-159
    3. Geoffrey Hobbis
      Pages 161-188
  6. Towards a Theory of Smartphones as Kinship Tools

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 189-189
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 223-225

About this book


At once a digital ethnography of smartphones and a classically conceived village-based ethnography, this book relocates the study of digital technologies to rural Melanesia, with a focus on the Lau of Malaita, Soloman Islands. In this ‘technography’, Geoffrey Hobbis studies the materiality and functional attributes of smartphones and their object biographies—modes of acquisition, maintenance, uses, limitations and the problems specific to this region in adopting and adapting smartphones in everyday life. As he examines the various uses of smartphones, as both telephone and multimedia device, Hobbis also explores the social and cultural transformations, the hopes and uncertainties, with which they are associated. Ultimately, in bringing together a study of digital technologies with classical anthropological theory, The Digitizing Family develops a theory of smartphones as kinship technologies and supercompositional objects.


digital anthropology kinship studies anthropology of technology material culture pacific studies Indigenous and Aboriginal studies Oceania

Authors and affiliations

  • Geoffrey Hobbis
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Media and Journalism StudiesUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-34928-8
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-34929-5
  • Buy this book on publisher's site