Track chairs

  • Rehema Baguma (rbaguma[at], Makerere University, Uganda)
  • Rita Orji (rita.orji[at], Dalhousie University, Canada)
  • Jose Abdelnour-Nocera (jose.abdelnour-nocera[at], University of West London, UK)

Overview of the Research area

While conceptual and methodological HCI frameworks are exported globally, research in HCI4D reports on local experiences, adapting and implementing this knowledge, on how it can be made locally appropriate (Suchman, 2002). Social science approaches in HCI such as ethnology and ethnography, technomethodology (Dourish & Button, 2009),  national culture models (Hofstede, 2001), and activity theory (Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2012) have tried to address the issues of designing interactive systems for culturally different users, but knowledge emerging from explicitly local or indigenous perspectives, approaches and experiences with HCI has not become substantial (Kurosu et al., 2004).  In this context, what constitutes a useful and usable system in different cultural locales remains partially explored but is a crucial condition for the emergence, success and consolidation in HCI projects in developing countries.

Dell and Kumar (2016) chart research on HCI4D through a survey of 259 papers published in relevant HCI venues and journals since 2009.  As a key insight from this survey, they stress that ‘HCI4D does not represent a new agenda for HCI but contributes instead to reinvoking a previously neglected agenda’ (Dell & Kumar, 2016, p. 2229). Through its focus on disparate peoples, cultures, and geographies, HCI4D has also helped to globalize and diversify HCI research, a need already highlighted by many HCI researchers. Dell and Kumar show how HCI4D research has contributed to methodological learnings by helping conceptualize what it means to be situated in a global and cross-cultural context.  The first African conference in HCI held in Kenya in 2016 is a strong sign of the expanding value of HCI and the need to ‘decolonise’ disciplines (Bidwell, 2016), as also pointed out by Irani et al. (2010) and Dourish and Mainwaring (2012). Bidwell reaffirms the first African conference in HCI as not only trying to widen Africans’ international participation in HCI, but also as trying to advance HCI by increasing awareness of locally senseful designs, tools, inventions, methods, theories, and pedagogies for creating and using technology in Africa.

A good example of southern-driven HCI research is that of Zaman and Winschiers-Theophilus (2015) where co-design was applied to work with a remote community in Malaysian Borneo to help preserve the Oroo’ visual language through its integration into a mobile digital messaging system. But in projects of this type the question still remains whether western methods can be fully removed as initial drivers of intrinsically motivated, bottom-up initiatives.

The value and impact of HCI research initiatives in the south have typically been branded for the ‘social good’ but the value and effectiveness of this is increasingly questioned as a problem of  misaligned and misconceived expectations by Pal (2017). He highlights that the value of designing for diversity lie as much in what designers learn from those initiatives as in what communities take away from them.

Despite presenting some examples of local and indigenous perspectives relevant for HCI4D, the final analysis of HCI in an international development context is still far from complete. According to Abdelnour-Nocera et al. (2017), key questions driving the agenda for researchers and designers in this field should be the following:

  • What is meant by local and indigenous HCI and why is it important for the ICT4D research and practitioner communities? This means being willing and able to shift the epistemological position of the discipline towards what constitutes valuable knowledge and how to obtain it.  Making sense of what are useful technologies is therefore a co-constructed process based on local realities and perspectives.
  • How do we approach and study the interpretive frames used locally and/or from an indigenous perspective to make sense of the current body of knowledge and tools in HCI? This question points at the methodological challenges in establishing meaningful communication spaces for all stakeholders in HCI4D projects and associated arenas of participation. Eliciting, conveying and explicating the political, epistemic and semiotic dimensions of research engagement and interventions is a fundamental challenge constantly reported in the literature referred to in this proposal.
  • What are the ethical issues in engaging in HCI4D activities?  What are the power relations and scripts embedded in this process? While HCI as a discipline carries values of participation and the ultimate beneficiary is the user, there are more complex ethical issues of value co-creation and informed consent in projects where there are clear intercultural and interdisciplinary dimensions.

Exemplar topics and types of contributions looked-for

Topics of interest to the track include, but are not limited to:

  • Southern-Driven Development or Refinement of Interface Artifacts or Techniques.
  • Understanding HCI Needs of Users from a Southern Perspective.
  • Southern-Driven HCI Systems, Tools, Architectures, and Infrastructure.
  • Southern-Driven HCI Methodologies.
  • Southern-Driven HCI Theories and Models.
  • HCI Innovation, Creativity and Vision from the Global South.
  • Argument/Provocative Essays about HCI4D and/or Southern-Driven HCI.
  • Validation and Refutation of HCI theories, models, frameworks, tools, etc developed    for the Global South.
  • Developing local and indigenous capacity in HCI and HCI4D.
  • Ethical issues in HCI4D.

References and Bibliography

Abdelnour-Nocera, J.  & Densmore, M. (2017) A review of perspectives and challenges for international development in information and communication technologies, Annals of the International Communication Association, Volume 41, 2017 - Issue 3-4

Dell, N., & Kumar, N. (2016). The ins and outs of HCI for development. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 2220–2232). Seoul, South Korea: ACM.

Dourish, P., & Button, G. (2009). On “technomethodology”: Foundational relationships between ethnomethodology and system design. Human-Computer Interaction, 13(4), 395–432.

Dourish, P., & Mainwaring, S. D. (2012). Ubicomp’s colonial impulse. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM conference on ubiquitous computing (pp. 133–142). Pittsburgh, PA: ACM.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, institutions and organisations across nations. London: Sage.

Kaptelinin, V., & Nardi, B. A. (2012). Activity theory in HCI fundamentals and reflections. [San Rafael, Calif.]: Morgan & Claypool. Retrieved from

Kurosu, M., Kobayashi, T., Yoshitake, R., Takahashi, H., Urokohara, H., & Sato, D. (2004). Trends in usability research and activities in Japan. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 17(1), 103–124.

Pal, J. (2017). The Fallacy of Good: Marginalized Populations As Design Motivation. Interactions, 24(5), 65–67.

Suchman, L. (2002). Located accountabilities in technology production. Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 14 (2), 91–105.