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The Weightless State: PowerPoint and the Everyday Work of Making Senegal Matter

By Caroline Melly

Cite As:
Melly, Caroline. 2023. “The Weightless State: PowerPoint and the Everyday Work of Making Senegal Matter.” Cultural Anthropology 38, no. 2: 274–302.


Executives at APIX, Senegal’s state investment-promotion agency, cast their office as the vanguard of a new kind of state formation, one remade through decades of austerity and resolutely focused on the nation’s future. They imagined PowerPoint as especially critical to this mission, as it had the potential to move the state beyond the confines of paper form and parochial bureaucratic routine and into the wider world. In this article, I explore the complex relationship between this state agency and this presentation software package. More specifically, I examine how preoccupations with weight shape state work and technological practice. By attending to everyday aspirations for weightlessness and resultant shifts in material forms, I argue, we might better understand the complex and consequential relationship between state and media in Senegal and elsewhere.


state; technology; Africa; materiality; PowerPoint; structural adjustment; media


Copyright (c) 2023 Caroline Melly Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.