- Antonio Díaz Andrade (antonio.diaz[at]aut.ac.nz, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
- Angsana Techatassanasoontorn (angsana[at]aut.ac.nz, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
- Harminder Singh (harminder.singh[at]aut.ac.nz, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
- Amber Young (amberyoung[at]umass.edu, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)
Overview of the Research area
International organisations and governments of affluent countries often sponsor information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) initiatives in less prosperous regions of the world. These well-intentioned initiatives may result in unintended consequences on the groups they target via the logic and assumptions embedded in the approaches they take and the technologies they provide. ICT4D sponsors, in an attempt to ‘rescue’ destitute individuals from the conditions of backwardness they live in, might be providing access to ICT in line with a modernisation strategy, in which dominant groups impose their systems of belief onto the vulnerable (Escobar, 2012). This ‘mechanistic modernisation’ presupposes a dominant-submissive dichotomy, by which an external agent identifies the needs of and proposes the solutions for the targeted groups often in less affluent regions. This approach reinforces a relationship of domination, which Zheng & Walsham (2008) aptly labelled as “unfavourable inclusion” (p. 238).
Genuine ICT4D initiatives should avoid falling into what Freire (1970) called ‘banking’, whereby the recipient’s mind is treated as an empty account to be filled with information. Providing technology solutions to access information in a unidirectional fashion without creating the opportunities to fully internalise it and make it relevant to user’s own context only serves to exacerbate the ICT4D donor-beneficiary dependency relationship, where the alien model – no matter how far from the user’s reality is – will be the only one to be emulated. A genuine ICT4D endeavour should aim at cultivating users to have a critical understanding of their local contexts. Fostering reflexivity would make ICT4D users autonomous agents (Sen, 1999) and contribute to breaking the traditional donor-beneficiary dependency relationship. The beneficiaries of ICT4D initiatives are the ones who, by interpreting and critically understanding the problematic situation, would eventually realise development through “the exercise of a profoundly transforming action upon the determining reality” (Freire, 1977, p. 52).
This track invites researchers to reflect on local initiatives that may promote and serve as a catalyst for Southern-driven cooperation in ICT4D.
Exemplar topics and types of contributions looked-for
Topics of interest to the track include, but are not limited to:
- Critical analysis of ICT4D initiatives.
- The encounter of local, traditional values and imported ICT4D models.
- Emancipatory role of ICT4D for local communities.
- The role of indigenous knowledge and practices in ICT4D initiatives.
- Successful ICT4D initiatives that embrace indigenous knowledge and practices.
- Challenges associated with indigenous ICT4D initiatives.
- Indigenous theory and its applications in a specific ICT4D context.
- The incorporation of indigenous perspectives in planning and evaluating ICT4D projects.
- The role of ICT4D in addressing social inequality and inequity among indigenous communities.
- The inclusion of indigenous viewpoints in designing ICT4D systems or components.
References and bibliography
Escobar, A. (2012). Encountering development: The making and unmaking of the Third World (2nd ed.). Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed . New York, NY, USA: Continuum.
Freire, P. (1977). Cultural action for freedom. Middlesex, UK: Penguin Books.
Sen, A. K. (1999). Development as freedom. New York, NY, USA: First Anchor Books.
Zheng, Y. & Walsham, G. (2008). Inequality of what? Social exclusion in the e-society as capability deprivation. Information Technology & People, 21(3), 222-243.