Anthropology, Barnard College

Brian Larkin is the author of Signal and Noise: Infrastructure, Media and Urban Culture in Nigeria, and co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain. His work examines theories of media and technology focusing on the introduction and operation of media in Nigeria and their role in the formation of colonial and postcolonial experience. He has published widely on a series of issues including: urbanism, infrastructure, religion, piracy, breakdown, sound, film, and the global circulation of cultural forms. He is Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University, former Director of the Institute for African Studies and the co-founder of the Center for Comparative Media at Columbia.


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

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

Journal Special Issues

Media and the Political Forms of Religion.  Social Text 26(3).  Coedited with Charles Hirschkind, 2008.

Media and the Design for Modern Living.  Visual Anthropology Review 14(2).


Promising Forms: The Political Aesthetics of Infrastructures. The Promise of Infrastructure. Nikhil Anand, Hannah Appel and Akhil Gupta eds. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

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

Binary Islam: Media and Religious Movements in Nigeria.  New Media and Religious Transformations in Africa.  Rosalind Hackett and Ben Soares eds.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 2015.

Techniques of Inattention.  The Mediality of Loudspeakers in Nigeria.  Anthropology Quarterly 87(4): 989-1015, 2014.

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

Making Equivalence Happen: Commensuration and the Grounds of Circulation.  Images Without Borders.  Patricia Spyer and Mary Steedly eds.  Santa Fe: SAR Press, 2013.

AHR Conversation: Historical Perspectives on the Circulation of Information.  Paul N Edwards, Lisa Gitelman, Gabrielle Hecht, Adrian Johns, Brian Larkin and Neil Safier participants.  AHR 116:1393-1435. 2011.

Circulating Empires: Colonial Authority and the Immoral, Subversive Power of American Film.  Globalizing American Studies.  Brian Edwards, Dilip Gaonkar eds.  Pp. 155-183.  Chicago University Press, 2010.

Islamic, Renewal, Radio and the Surface of Things.  Aesthetic Formations: Media, Religion, Senses.   Birgit Meyer ed.  Palgrave, 2009.

On National Allegory.  Social Text  100: 164-168, 2009.

Pirate Infrastructures.  In, Network/Netplay.  Joseph Karaganis ed. Duke University Press, 2008.

Media and the Political Forms of Religion.  Coedited with Charles Hirschkind.  Special Edition of Social Text 26(3), 2008.

Introduction, Media and the Political Forms of Religion.  Special Edition of Social Text.  26(3): 1-9.  Co-written with Charles Hirschkind, 2008.

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

Majigi and the Political Origins of Cinema in Nigeria.  Communication, Media and Popular Culture in Northern Nigeria. Ed. A. U. Adamu et al. Kano: Department of Mass Communications. 53-59,  2006.

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

Interview with Brian Larkin, By Anand Taneja.  Contested Commons/Trespassing Publics: A Public Record.  Delhi: The Sarai Programme, 2005.

From Majigi to Hausa Video Films.  Cinema and Society in Northern Nigeria.  Hausa Home Videos:  Technology, Economy, Society.  Abdalla Uba Adamu ed.  Pp: 46-53.  Kano, Nigeria: BUK Press, 2004.

Piracy, Infrastructure, and the Rise of a Nigerian Video Industry.  Transmissions..... Patrice Petro and Tasha Oren eds.  Pp. 159-170.  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2004.

Degraded Images, Distorted Sounds.  Nigerian Video and the Infrastructure of Piracy.  Public Culture 16(4): 289-314, 2004.

Itineraries of Indian Cinema.  African Videos, Bollywood and Global Media.  Multiculturalism, Transnationalism and Film.  Ella Shohat and Robert Stam eds. Pp. 170-192.  New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2003.

Bandiri Music, Globalization and Urban Experience in Nigeria.  In, Cahiers d’études africaines 168 XLII-4 Pp.739-762, 2002.

Hausa Dramas and the Rise of Video Culture in Nigeria.  Nigerian Video Film Revised Ed.  Jonathan Haynes ed. Pp. 209-242.  Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2000.     

Introduction, Media Technologies and the Design for Modern Living: A Symposium.  Brian Larkin ed.  Special Issue, Visual Anthropology Review 14(2): 11-13, 1999.

Theaters of the Profane: Cinema and Colonial Urbanization. Visual Anthropology Review 14(2): 46-62, 1999.

Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities.  Africa. 67(3): 406-440, 1998.