Participation as a Way for a Postcolonial Design of ICT4Ds

University essay from Malmö universitet/Institutionen för konst, kultur och kommunikation (K3)

Abstract: The ongoing digital transformation of our societies impacts all aspects of our lives aswell as the international development and the design for social change. Having said that,in this paper I studied whether the design of participatory ICT4Ds can engage the localend-users/beneficiaries in the processes of knowledge and identity creation, and thus,achieve their self-representation in order to break the colonial-based stereotypes. Moreover, I examined whether the locals’ participation can emancipate design, development,and ICT4Ds from their colonial heritage and the related universalisms, and thus, achievethe construction of a postcolonial pluriversal world.To examine all of the above, I combined the approach of comparative case studies with aseries of interviews. As my research context I investigated the participatory dimensions oftwo ICT4D initiatives, namely UNICEF’s U-Report Yunitok Kenya and Map Kibera, thatoperate also in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Because of this area’s colonial historyand influence I used postcolonialism as my theoretical framework.The results of this study suggest that the design of participatory ICT4Ds can be influentialin the knowledge and identity creation of the Global South and this has the dynamics tocreate a postcolonial pluriversal world. Similarly, locals’ participation seems to have thepotential to emancipate design, development, and ICT4Ds from their colonial heritage.Nevertheless, this study advocates that the postcolonial rejection of universalisms mightbe problematic as it seems that the concept is not inherently negative but it rather hasstrong connotations due to its connection with the colonial history.

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