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Showing posts from 2012

New partnership with Microsoft India Researcher bears fruit

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Nimmi Rangaswamy from Microsoft Research Labs India and I have been working on creating momentum in shifting the focus of ICTs for International Development (ICT4D) research towards a broader and less utilitarian perspective. Over the years, it has been interesting to see how Nimmi and I through our independent anthropological fieldwork were coming to a similar conclusion on the need to pay attention to "leisure" behavior of Internet users in emerging markets if we are to genuinely understand the multiple dimensions of new media practice in the global South. For instance, her research with Kentaro Toyama on cyberkiosks revealed the following:

From field ethnography, we find that urban youth slang and speech styles do not lag behind in villages. Neither do communication styles and channels. Instant messaging is immediately embraced by younger kiosk operators. Fan clubs of matinee idols bring in youth fashion and trends along with film music. Most popular films and film music …

Conference on The Shape of Diversity to Come: Global Community, Global Archipelago, or a New Civility?

I am co-organizing a conference with Wouter Been and Mireille Hildebrandt from the Faculty of Law at Erasmus University Rotterdam on The Shape of Diversity to Come: Global Community, Global Archipelago, or a New Civility?

The Call for abstracts is open (Deadline October 21st 2012)

Check out the website for more details:


Keynote speakers

Julie Cohen is a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. She recently published Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code and the Play of Everyday Practice (Yale University Press, 2012).
Chandran Kukathas is author of The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom (Oxford University Press 2003). Kukathas is currently chair of Political Theory at the London School of Economics.
Emmanuel Melissaris is Senior Lecturer in Law at the LSE Department of Law. He is the author of a recent work on legal pluralism and legal theory Ubiquitous Law: Legal Theory and the Space for Legal Pluralism (Ashgate, 2009).
Jos de Mul is professor in …

New Publication Out: THE END OF THE ART CONNOISSEUR? EXPERTS AND KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION IN THE VISUAL ARTS IN THE DIGITAL AGE

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A joint paper with Filip Vermeylen is out in the Information, Communication and Society Journal. This is part of a larger research effort to understand the impact of digitalization and globalization on the art market as we compare the art worlds of Mumbai, Amsterdam and New York. While I bring the new media angle to this with a special focus on how emerging markets are capitalizing on virtual platforms to reinvent and structure themselves through strategic information indexing online, possibly creating new post-colonial art spaces, Filip is taking on a more economic and historical angle to see how these markets are shifting and decentralizing from the typical Western to a more Postmodern frame.

PAPER TITLE: THE END OF THE ART CONNOISSEUR? EXPERTS AND KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION IN THE VISUAL ARTS IN THE DIGITAL AGE
(download PDF)

ABSTRACT: In this digital age, declarations surface of the death of the expert and the democratization of information. Crowd wisdom is seen as the new guide in constr…

Paper out in the 'Development in Practice' Journal on INGO Organizational Culture

My article on INGO organizational culture and its shaping of the microfinance development project is now out in the Development in Practice Journal. Click HERE for the full article:

Title  "Your kool-aid is not my kool-aid:" ideologies on microfinance within an INGO culture


Abstract Development investigations focus on synergies of institutional cultures for policy and practice. International non-governmental organisations (INGOs) currently enjoy a privileged position as harbingers of world culture unity. While there is contestation on INGOs as monolithic entities, few studies delve into the voices of actors within INGOs to provide for a more pluralistic perspective. This paper separates the actors from their institution by examining their different socio-cultural takes that drive them. This emphasises that as projects and visions come and go, institutional actors draw on their own philosophy that does not necessarily mirror their institution’s stance. Here, the focus is on on…

Digital Crossroads Conference on Media, Migration & Diasporas in a Transnational Perspective

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I recently attended and presented at my first Netherlands conference at the University of Utrecht on Media, Migration and Diasporas in a Transnational Perspective. It dawned on me that after three years of being in the Netherlands, I've not actually attended a local conference until now. Partly its because I believed somehow that these linkages within and between universities in the Netherlands would happen organically since its such a densely knit and small country. Ironically, I believe now that because of these factors, these linkages are far weaker as the Dutch tend to reach out rather than within to build networks across Europe and beyond. So its not a coincidence that this 'local' conference was deeply international as it was the culmination of a grant project entitled “Wired Up: Digital media as innovative socialization practices for migrant youth”, carried out by the Faculty of Humanities (project leader Dr. Sandra Ponzanesi) and the Faculty of Social Sciences (pr…

New Paper out in the Asian Journal of Communication

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Title of Paper: The folksong jukebox: singing along for social change in rural India
(Download PDF)


Abstract: In designing digital literacy content for marginalized demographics, we need to garner local resources to structure engaging and meaningful media experiences. This paper examines the socio-cognitive implications of a novel edutainment product in rural India on learning, stemming from an e-development initiative funded by Hewlett-Packard. This product encapsulates a multiplicity of media forms: text, audio and visual, with social-awareness folk themes endemic to the locality. It uses the karaoke ‘same language subtitling’ feature that won the World Bank Development Marketplace Award in 2002 due to its simple yet innovative application that has proven to have an impact on reading skills. The product strives to combine cultural regeneration, value-based education, incidental literacy and language practice through entertainment. The paper investigates how this product addresses enga…

Capitalizing on Contested Identities in this Digital Age

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I am currently at the West-Asia North Africa (WANA) Forum in Amman Jordan that is sponsored by the Nippon Foundation on the subject of Social Identity and the Regional Common. I spoke on the topic of "Capitalizing on Contested Identities in this Innovation and Digital Age" in the morning session on a panel that was comprised of some fascinating people listed below and Chaired by the Royal Highness El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan and Chairman of the WANA Forum.

Fredrick Chien, Chairman of the Cathay Charity Foundation, TaiwanMona Makram-Ebeid, Member of the Advisory Board to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, EgyptMunira Shahidi, Chair of the Shahidi International Foundation for Culture, TajikistanOmar Christidis, Founder of ArabNet, LebanonMunir Fasheh, Founder of The Arab Education Forum, Palestine All these panelists talked about aspects relating to how this region could experience transition and the role of identity in this process. Below are some of my thoughts that shap…

New Paper Out in the Development in Practice Journal: Is the doctor on?

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My paper "Is the doctor on? In Search for Users of Rural Medical Diagnostic Software in Central Himalayas" has come out in the Development in Practice Journal.

Abstract: The Indian healthcare sector provides ripe ground for development as access to high-quality and timely medical diagnosis remains unrequited among its vast rural populace. With an acute shortage of doctors in rural areas, medical diagnostic software has been created as a surrogate, propelling non-physician workers to step in. For diagnostic software to function effectively, it is paramount to identify the user. Using an intended pilot programme of RightChoice software in the central Himalayas, the present article focuses on the political and economic complexities involved in identifying users of such software.

New Paper Out in the Current Sociology Journal: Typology of Web 2.0 spheres

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My paper, "Typology of Web 2.0 spheres: Understanding the cultural dimensions of social media spaces" has come out in the Current Sociology Journal.

Abstract:

It has taken the past decade to commonly acknowledge that online space is tethered to real place. From euphoric conceptualizations of social media spaces as a novel, unprecedented and revolutionary entity, the dust has settled, allowing for talk of boundaries and ties to real-world settings. Metaphors have been instrumental in this pursuit, shaping perceptions and affecting actions within this extended structural realm. Specifically, they have been harnessed to architect Web 2.0 spaces, be it chatrooms, electronic frontiers, homepages, or information highways for policy and practice. While metaphors are pervasive in addressing and normalizing new media spaces, there is less effort channeled into organizing these digital domains along cultural lines to systematize and deepen understandings of its histories, agencies and…

IDEAPLAY: New Media, Society & Change

Recently I was invited by the Department of Education at Michigan State University to give a public lecture and some interviews on how people learn to leisure and labor with new technologies in rural India. They did a wonderful job in capturing the interview through their multimedia portal IDEAPLAY, an excellent way to disseminate and share conversations that take place at this department. Below are the links for the interview:
IDEAPLAY: Payal Arora on New Media, Society and Change  PART 1 PART 2 PART 3
PART 4
PART 5
Learning to leisure and labor with new technologies in rural India
There is an intricate relationship between leisure, labor and learning. Much is revealed from eight-months of ethnographic fieldwork on computer-mediated social learning in rural India.  The role of educational institutions against informal learning spaces such as cybercafés in fostering digital engagements is explored. Issues of global knowledge constructions, plagiarism, and collaborative/peer based learning…

New Paper out "Leisure Divide: Can the poor come out to play?" by The Information Development Journal

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My paper on "The Leisure Divide: Can the poor come out to play?" has just got published by the Information Development Journal Here's the Abstract: As billions of dollars are invested in mitigating the digital divide, stakes are raised to gain validity for these cost-intensive endeavors, focusing more on online activities that have clear socio-economic outcomes. Hence, farmers in rural India are watched closely to see how they access crop prices online, while their Orkuting gets sidelined as anecdotal. This paper argues that this is a fundamental problem as it treats users in emerging markets as somehow inherently different from those in the West. After all, it is now commonly accepted that much of what users do online in developed nations is leisure-oriented. This perspective does not crossover as easily into the Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) world, where the utilitarian angle reigns. This paper argues that much insight can be gain…

EUR fellowship grant 2012-2014 for the research proposal, “Virtual parks: Conceptualizing leisure spaces in the digital age”

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Dr. Payal Arora, a member of The Erasmus Centre of Media, Communication and Culture (ERMeCC) has received € 135,000 from the EUR fellowship grant scheme for 2012-2014 to study the conceptualizing of leisure spaces in the digital age. For the next two years, the recipient of this grant Dr Arora will be investigating how real and virtual leisure spaces can be comprehensively framed through a historical, transnational and cross-cultural lens. This project has also procured a book contract with the Studies in Science, Technology & Society Series of the Routledge/ Taylor & Francis Group. The forthcoming book will be published under the title, "Virtual and Real Leisure Spaces: A Comparative and Cross-Cultural Analysis." In essence, the early 20th century birthed a radical phenomenon across several cultures and nations- the demarcating of certain public space for primarily leisure purposes. From India to the United States, urban parks became a symbol of democracy, openness…