Internet Geographer


Communication technologies and International Development - OII and PCMLP seminar series

Communication technologies and International Development

The seminar series gathers leading scholars and practitioners to reflect on the influence of new communication technologies on development processes. The seminars will focus on the dramatic changes in citizens’ ability to coordinate and mobilize for political action, on global migration and its relation to digital media, and on how international and national actors are seeking to shape the applications of technology and communication. The series provides a focus point for academics and non-academics in Oxford who are interested in the challenges and opportunities of employing new communication technologies in development contexts.

The series is organized by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and the Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) at the University of Oxford and co-convened by Dr Iginio Gagliardone and Dr Mark Graham.

Location: Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, 1 St Giles Oxford OX1 3JS (map)
Registration: Please email your name and affiliation to or telephone +44 (0)1865 287210

30 January: Robin Mansell (London School of Economics)
The Information Society Agenda: Prospects and Problem

Robin Mansell discusses dominant approaches by intergovernmental agencies to information society policy and the prospects for introducing critical perspectives that acknowledge the power relations which inform information society strategies and actions.

6 February: Abdirashid Duale (CEO of  Dahabshiil)
ICTs, Innovation and Regulation in the Somali Territories

This seminar will explore technology and regulation in the Somali territories of the Horn of Africa.  Despite weak or non-existent government institutions, innovation has flourished with local solutions to local challenges. Money transfer companies have been leading the expansion and investments in ICT development.  Mobile banking, inexpensive internet connection, and dozens of media outlets are an unexpected reality in this war-torn region.  How are ICTs regulated and the role of the private sector in ICT development, will be explored.

13 February: Mirca Madianou (University of Leicester)  
Humanitarian campaigns in social media: network architectures and Kony 2012 as a polymedia event

In early March 2012 the Kony 2012 viral video took the world by storm. Attracting over 70 million views in less than a week from its release it was equally criticized and admired as an example of the power of social media. In this talk I will assess the optimism surrounding the opportunities that social media offer for humanitarian action. Drawing on the analysis of the phenomenally popular and controversial Kony 2012 campaign I observe that the architectures of social networking sites orientate action at a communitarian level which heightens their post-humanitarian style (Chouliaraki, 2012). However, an emerging new genre of reporting and commenting which I term “polymedia events” can potentially extend beyond the limitations of SNS communication by opening up the space for reflexivity and dialogical imagination.

20 February: Don Slater (London School of Economics)Disjunctures and Connections: Case Studies of How Techno-politics Make and Cut Networks

Drawing on case study material, the paper focuses on ways in which definitions of ‘media’ and other technical objects act to promote or prevent ‘connection’. In a development context, the ways in which new media objects such as ICTs are defined in relation to other objects, people and institutions map out new figurations of power and connection, or new ‘technological zones’ (Barry), that revalue and recombine political agency. Consideration of the politics of technology needs to be moved away from seeing ICTs as neutral tools to be enabled or as problematic interventions to be contained; rather, we need to be able to make visible and negotiable the possible communicative assemblages that might be produced.

27 February: Mark Thompson (University of Cambridge)
Development 2.0 and beyond: Challenges for ICT4D in 2013

The discipline of ICT4D has never appeared more, or less, relevant.  On the one hand, technology has become unprecedentedly pervasive, plastic, mobile, and cheap; increasingly based on open standards, emerging, platform-based architectures beckon towards an empowered era of development hubs, mashups, and commercial and social enterprise that increasingly offer those in emerging economies an independent, ‘continuous beta’ of thought and activity.  On the other, it might be said that such positive developments  challenge those working in ICT4D, and even 'development’ itself, to engage in a new way with people who are increasingly 'doing it for themselves’.  In this talk, I will try to address some of the opportunities and contradictions presented by this tension, and consider some emerging ways in which ICT4D researchers may contribute to the field.