Digitalising the State: Data Centres and the Power of Exchange

James Maguire, Brit Ross Winthereik

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Big-Tech’s data centres have recently emerged as important socio-political figures in the ongoing digitalisation of the Danish state. Locating vast swathes of data in a country renowned for its renewable energy has prompted a series of questions about the nature of the relationship between these two actors. Our ethnographic interest resides in analysing how, and why, Denmark is rapidly becoming Europe’s primary US data centre location, and in exploring the transformative processes through which the Danish state is being reconfigured as digital. In doing so, we emphasise the role of infrastructures in digital state-making and draw upon a particular reading of anthropological exchange theory to conceptualise how the state is being reconstituted through exchange practices with data centre actors. We argue that as Big-Tech territorialises state land and resources, the state in turn reterritorializes the promising digital futures that come with Big-Tech, making visible its new digital frontier.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2019


  • data centres, digitalisation, Big-Tech, the state, energy, infrastructure


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