Brian Larkin

Tow Associate Professor for Distinguished Scholars

Brian Larkin is the Tow Associate Professor for Distinguished Scholars at Barnard College.  He is the author of Signal and Noise: Media Infrastructure and Urban Culture in Nigeria (Duke University Press, 2008) and, with Lila Abu-Lughod and Faye Ginsburg, co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (University of California Press, 2000).  He sits on the board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association. 

My research focuses on the ethnography and history of media in Nigeria.  Most broadly I examine the introduction of media technologies into Nigeria – cinema, radio, digital media - and the religious, social and cultural changes they bring about.  I explore how media technologies comprise broader networked infrastructures that shape a whole range of actions from forms of political rule, to new urban spaces, to cultural life.  I have also published widely on issues of globalization, piracy and intellectual property, and Nigerian films (Nollywood) in such journals as Public Culture, Africa, Social Text and Cahiers d’Études africaines.

My current book, provisionally titled, Secular Machines: Media and the Materiality of Islamic Revival, analyzes the role media play in the rise of new Islamic movements in Nigeria and explores theoretical questions about technology and religion. 


Selected Publications



Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure and Urban Culture in Nigeria. 2008 Durham: Duke University Press.



Imperial Circulation: Cinema and the making of anxious colonialists. In, Globalizing American Studies.  Brian Edwards, Dilip Gaonkar eds. Pp.155-183.  Chicago University Press.  .pdf

On National Allegory.  Social Text 100: 164-167.  2009. .pdf

Ahmed Deedat and the Form of Islamic Evangelism.’  Social Text (26(3): 101-121.  2008.  .pdf

Pirate Infrastructures.  In, Structures of Participation in Digital Culture. Joe Karaganis ed.  Pp. 74-87.  New York: SSRC.  2008.

Pentecostalism, Islam and Culture. New Religious Movements in West Africa. (with Birgit Meyer). In, Themes in West African History. Emmanuel Akyeampong ed. Pp. 286-312. Oxford: James Currey. (2006) 

"Degraded Images, Distorted Sounds: Nigerian Video and the Infrastructure of Piracy," Public Culture 16.2 (2004). .pdf

"Itineraries of Indian Cinema: African Videos, Bollywood, and Global Media," in Multiculturalism, Postcolonialism, and Transnational Media, ed. E. Shohat and R. Stam (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003)

Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, co-editor with F. Ginsburg and L. Abu-Lughod (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002)  .pdf

"Materializing Culture: Cinema and the Creation of Social Space," in Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain, ed. F. Ginsburg, L. Abu-Lughod and B. Larkin (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002)

"Bandiri Music, Globalization, and Urban Experience in Nigeria," Cahiers D'Études africaines 168 XLII-4 (2002)

"Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities," in The Anthropology of Globalization. A Reader, ed. J. X. Inda and R. Rosaldo (Oxford: Blackwell Books, 2002)

Academic Focus: 

Media and society
Ethnographic media
Africana, African
Technology in culture

Awards & Honors: 
Professional Affiliations: 
Presentations / Recent Lectures: 


Office Hours: 

Tuesday 10am - 12pm


PhD, New York University

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