Brian Larkin

Brian Larkin

Research Interests

Research Concentrations

Theory and History of Media, Urbanism, Infrastructures, Aesthetics and Politics, Media Ecologies, the Circulation of Ideas and Things, Religion, Nigerian film (Nollywood)




At its broadest level, my research examines how it is media technologies organize the world in which we live and the modes of political and cultural life that result.  Drawing on more than two decades of research in Nigeria I have challenged normative theories of media that tend to presume that the way technologies operate in the West is the way they operate everywhere.  My interest, by contrast, has been to ask what would media theory look like if we started from the grounds of Nigeria and its prolific cultural and technological forms.  I have written on topics as diverse as loudspeaker wars on mosques and churches, infrastructural breakdown and disrepair, the love of Nigerians for Indian films, the degraded images of pirated cassettes, the emergence and proliferation of Nigerian films, and the enormous dynamism of religious movements in Nigeria. I am the author of Signal and Noise: Infrastructure, Media and Urban Culture in Nigeria,  (Duke, 2008) and the co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (California, 2000).

I am also the co-founder and former director of the Center for Comparative Media at Columbia.  This brings together scholars and students from across campus working on issues of media broadly conceived and offers a graduate Certificate in Comparative Media.


New York University PhD 1998

Birmingham University BA 1987

2016. “The Form of Crisis and the Affect of Modernization.” In African Futures: Essays on Crisis, Emergence, and Possibility, edited by Brian Goldstone and Juan Obarrio. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

2015. “Binary Islam: Media and Religious Movements in Nigeria.” In New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa, edited by Rosalind Hackett and Ben Soares. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 

2014. “Techniques of Inattention: The Mediality of Loudspeakers in Nigeria.” Anthropology Quarterly 87, no. 4: 989-1015.

2013. “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.” Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 327-43.

2008. Coeditor with Charles Hirschkind. “Media and the Political Forms of Religion.” Special issue, Social Text 26, no. 3.  

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

2002. Co-edited with Faye Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, Brian Larkin. Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain. Berkeley: University of California Press.

1998. “Media Technologies and the Design for Modern Living: A Symposium.” Visual Anthropology Review 14, no. 2: 11-13.


Click on the Icon to access Brian Larkin's media page.