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Dissertation Title: Sarax and Sutura: Alms and the Value of Discretion in Dakar, Senegal


I am a linguistic and semiotic anthropologist who is concerned with how people think about, judge, and manage the movement and circulation of information and (or as) objects (talk, commodities, metadata). My past fieldwork in Dakar, Senegal, has focused on the city’s charitable and domestic economies, tracing the kinds of knowledge and ongoing relationships built in and through networks of care managed by the city’s female householders. In this work, I have come to focus on the local value sutura (often translated ‘discretion’) as a guiding principle in Senegalese models of communication and interaction. My new work uses sutura -- in conversation with Black postcolonial and diasporic approaches to information systems -- as a means to critically rethink anthropological models of communication, circulation, and individual action and efficacy and to reframe current understandings of information economies, global information security, and data sovereignty: moments in which nationstate regulation of privacy and data ownership intersects the claims of corporations.

I do research in Wolof, French, and English, and have served as a medical and legal interpreter for Wolof in New York City. My work has been recognized by support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Charlotte Newcombe Foundation, FLAS, and the West African Research Association.