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Tracking selves or tracking relationships? Means of measuring time amongst Ethiopian runners

Crawley, Michael (2021) 'Tracking selves or tracking relationships? Means of measuring time amongst Ethiopian runners.', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 27 (3). pp. 653-671.


GPS watches and digital self-tracking devices (DSTDs) have been characterized as ‘self-tracking’ devices, assuming a dyadic relationship between individuals and technologies. Amongst Ethiopian professional runners, such devices have become increasingly sought after, and yet they are embedded in deeper relationships of collaborative work, submission, and authority. They circulate between people, tracking relationships as much as they track selves. I place their use in the context of the discourses and practices of two of the main corporations working with runners in Ethiopia to suggest that the logic of exponential acceleration upon which these corporations rely is contested by Ethiopian runners, who attempt to achieve a synthesis between external scientific knowledge and pre-existing ideas about energy, risk, and collective work. Whilst DSTDs may offer a tantalizing opportunity to give in to individualistic urges, in fact they crystallize existing tensions in Amhara society between centrifugal desire and duties of care and reciprocity.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Authors. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Royal Anthropological Institute This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:13 August 2021
Date of first online publication:09 July 2021
Date first made open access:13 August 2021

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