Spencer Kaplan

Spencer Kaplan headshot 2021

Welcome! I’m a PhD student in the Yale Department of Anthropology, where I study technology, finance, and media in North America and Europe. I’m interested in how human selves are fashioned and cultivated through technology. How do cultural beliefs about what it means to be human, and what it means to be a better human, animate the designs of emergent technologies and markets? And in turn, how do technological theories and concepts shape how we understand the world and the humans inhabiting it? Besides anthropology, I engage with science and technology studies, media studies, ethics, and critical theory. My ethnographic work has brought me in contact with Wall Street bankers, art collectors, and, most recently, Berlin’s NFT enthusiasts.

My research is motivated by previous experience working in technology startups and management consulting. I received an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge and a BA in International Studies and Economics from the University of Chicago.

During the 2022-2023 academic year, I am coordinating the Yale Department of Anthropology’s Ethnography and Social Theory Colloquium. I am also a Student Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project.

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Research Projects

Financializing Identities

Interfaces of Art Collecting

I first asked these questions as an undergraduate, pursuing them through research in various sites, including East Asia and the Arab Gulf, where entrepreneurs and royals make record-breaking acquisitions of European artworks. They often present their acquisitions alongside work by local artists in museums they’ve built for community members and visitors alike to view. You can find some of my writing on this here.