This is a team assignment where you’ll be working with 3-4 students. You will receive a team grade. You’ll be selecting one life history from the list below and relating individual biographies with some of the macro-processes (political, economic, environmental, etc.) that shape these life courses. Along the way you will become better acquainted with how poverty is diversely and personally experienced. The complete assignment is here (docx and pdf). Book descriptions and blurbs here (doc and pdf).

Select a “technology and poverty” case to examine. This can be a case we discussed in class or another of your choosing. If abundant material is available you can look at one single project (such as the Grameen Village Phone project or the Unique Identity card project in India) or alternatively you can look at a class of projects (such as improved agricultural implements or cookstoves). Your paper should be between 2000 and 2500 words in length. The case or topic you choose could be:

  • a type of technological artifact designed by an NGO in order to realize some poverty-alleviation goal
  • an instance of technology appropriation within a poor or marginalized community

You’ll need to do some document gathering in order to find everything you can about the project and its purpose. Please consider carefully the source of all these documents in evaluating their claims about the project. Begin by clarifying what composes the technology from participants/stakeholders’ perspectives and what perspectives might be missing. Identify (with reference to readings in the course) any underlying theory of growth or development behind the project. Identify any opposing or conflicting viewpoints (if possible) and what questions they raise about this underlying theory of development. Based on your readings give an analysis of the case made for this technology/project – are there holes in this logic, are there counter-examples you think are important to consider?

For a sense of the diversity of topics from past years, here are a few samples of good papers: Paper 1, Paper 2, Paper 3