Miglė Bareikytė

Miglė Bareikytė

Center for Digital Cultures at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg


  • Research topic:
    Internet development in post-socialist (1990-2018) Lithuania
    Period:
    March 2020
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Migle is a PhD student and a Fellow at the Center for Digital Cultures at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. She works in the fields of media anthropology and STS with the particular focus on digitalisation in Central and Eastern Europe. She holds degrees in Communication Studies (B.A.) from Vilnius University in Vilnius, Social and Political Critical Studies (M.A.) from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, and Media and Political Communication (M.A.) from the Free University of Berlin in Berlin. She is an alumna of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, Hertie Foundation, and the Research Training Group "Cultures of Critique". Bareikytė has worked as a research associate at the Leuphana University, TU Berlin spin-off nexus institute and as a research assistant at the FU Berlin. In the last couple of years she co-organized international workshops on media politics and research ("Post-X Politics" and "Field of Critiques" at the Leuphana University), gave a seminar on Digital Media Economies at the Hamburg Media School, and has been carrying out her PhD research.

Bareikytė’s PhD research is focused on the Internet maintenance in post-Soviet Lithuania that she explored through a multi-sited fieldwork. Lithuania was re-established as an independent state in March 11, 1990. Here, the emergence of new nation state coincided with the development of its first Internet connection. It was both symbolic and useful, because new connectivity enabled Lithuanians – predominantly politicians and academics at first – to communicate with the world independently from Moscow. On the 1st of January 1992 the biggest telecommunication company "Lietuvos Telekomas" was established as a state enterprise, with more than 200 000 people waiting for a telephone line. Fast forward to 2017, and 75% of the households in Lithuania had access to the Internet [1]. Currently, the Internet in Lithuania is of exceptional quality, and its public Wi-Fi is one of the fastest in the world. [2] While the access to and speed of the Internet in Lithuania has expanded in the course of country’s independence, in her research Bareikytė shifts the attention from the effects and characteristics of the Internet as a phenomena to the physical maintenance of the Internet itself. What kind of practices maintain the fast and accessible Internet in Lithuania everyday?

Bareikytė thus situates the Internet through ethnographically inspired fieldwork with the focus on maintenance practices. Motivated by infrastructural inversion (Susan Leigh Star, Geoffrey Bowker), media ethnography (Lisa Parks, Helena Karasti and Jeanette Blomberg), and telecom geopolitics (Dwayne Winseck), she investigates fieldwork-informed ramification of the Internet maintenance - everyday labor, geopolitical and critical practices - that constitute the Internet in Lithuania today. In Lviv, Miglė will focus on finishing her third thesis chapter and explore Eastern European media history in order to ground Lithuania’s experience.

[1]Informacinės visuomenės plėtros komitetas prie susisiekimo ministerijos. Namų ūkiai, turinys interneto prieigą. In: Informacinės visuomenės plėtros komitetas prie Susisiekimo ministerijos. Online: http://statistika.ivpk.lt/temos/55. Retrieved on: June 5, 2018.

 [2] Hazanchuk, A. Best and Worst Countries for Wi-Fi Access. In: Ooma. Online: https://www.ooma.com/blog/best-worst-wifi-countries/. Retrieved on: December 15, 2019.

Photo credit: Julija Goyd