Anthropology Dissertation Defense:
A. Lorraine Kaljund

Friday, May 25, 2018

9:00 am

Department of Anthropology, Building 50, Room 51A Map

Sponsored by:
Department of Anthropology

Digitizing Nation-State: Nationalism, Citizenship, and Sovereignty in e-Estonia

In recent years, Estonia has emerged as a frontrunner in the field of e-governance. The state’s infrastructure for everything from taxes to parliamentary elections is online and every citizen is issued a digital-ID they can use to authenticate their identity and access public e-services. Since 2014 Estonia has shared this digital infrastructure with entrepreneurs around the world through its e-Residency program; though e-residents cannot live or work in Estonia, and have no rights to social benefits or support from the state, they can use Estonia’s digital-ID infrastructure to, among other things, found and remotely operate Estonian firms. My dissertation examines the ways in which Estonian state sovereignty, symbolic regimes, and ethno-political subjectivities both shape, and are shaped by, Estonian digital media systems and practices. I link the prominence of digital infrastructures in Estonian statecraft to the emergence of discourses of the state as a “service provider” and the citizen as a “user” or “customer,” as well as to changes in how Estonians conceptualize the divide between State and Society and articulate what they are owed as citizens. Via its engagement with Estonia’s e-Residency initiative, the project also examines the transnational dimensions of Estonian e-government. My work traces a tension between the political imperative to limit the substantive rights afforded e-Estonians and the state’s desire to build a “digital diaspora” of e-residents who will contribute to the economy and potentially even “side with Estonia” on geopolitical issues. Collectively, the work brings robust ethnographic insights to what are often speculative and theoretical discussions about the future of citizenship, nationalism, and the civic sphere in our increasingly digital world.

Friday, May 25, 2018
9:00 am – 10:00 am
Department of Anthropology, Building 50, Room 51A Map

PhD Oral International Humanities 

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