Lecture 10, 6/19

Gender, Development, and Technology
Does technology have a gender? Does gender matter, when it comes to poverty and development projects? These are some of the questions that the student teaching team will discuss and present to the class today.

Required readings
– Burrell, J. (2010) “Evaluating Shared Access: social equality and the circulation of mobile phones in rural Uganda.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 15(2): 230-250.
– Oreglia, E. and Kaye, J. (2012) “A Gift from the City: Mobile Phones in Rural China.” Proceedings of the ACM 2012 conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 137-146.

Background readings
– VIDEO: Wallis, C. (2013) “Technomobility in China: Young Migrant Women and Mobile Phones in China.
– Cockburn, C. 1992. “The Circuit of Technology: Gender, identity and power.” In R. Silverstone and E.Hirsch(Eds) Consuming Technologies: Media and information in domestic spaces, pp. 32-47. London, Routledge.
– Kuriyan R. and K. Kirtner. 2009. “Constructing Class Boundaries: Gender, Aspiration and Shared Computing.” Information Technology and International Development 5(1): 17-29.

Other resources
– UNDP Gender Inequality Index

World Bank Gender Portal
UN Women

WISAT – Women in Global Science and Technology
AWID – Association for Women’s Rights in Development

Lecture 9, 6/17

Technology and Agriculture
The ILO estimates that one third of the world population works in agriculture. Today we take a broad look at how and where technology fits in agriculture and at some of the efforts that have been carried out to improve both yield and working conditions, as well as market and information access for farmers. We begin with a historical case: the Green Revolution in India, and we look at its short- and long-term consequences. In the second part of the lecture, we look at ‘thinking small’ versus ‘thinking big’ in agriculture, and at how mobile phones can be used to help small-hold farmers.

Required readings
– Parayil, G. “The Green Revolution in India: A Case Study of Technological Change.” Technology and Culture, Vol. 33 (1992), p. 737–756.
– Shiva, V. 1991. “The Green Revolution in Punjab.” The Ecologist, Vol. 21, No. 2.
– Jenny C. Aker, “Dial A for Agriculture: A Review of Information and Communication Technologies for Agricultural Extension in Developing Countries

Background readings
– NYTimes Articles – Farmer Suicides in Karnataka, India

Jensen, Robert. 2007. “The Digital Provide: Information (Technology), Market Performance, and Welfare in the South Indian Fisheries Sector.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 122 (3): 879–924.

Burrell, J. & Oreglia, E. “The Myth of Market Price Information” (working paper)

Other resources
– resources on ICT and farming/market activities: Beyond Market Prices: Mobile Phones in Trade and Livelihood Activities in Ghana, Uganda, India, China

Lecture 5, 6/7

Thinking Big: Infrastructure and Development
Today’s lecture is about scale. Taking dams as an example of the “new kind of socio-technical system” described by Leo Marx in “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept,” we look at the role played by large and complex infrastructural projects in development, at the ideas behind them, and at the complex financing that made them possible. We discuss the consequences of such undertakings on the poor, and we introduce the topic of next lecture, i.e. the ‘rethinking’ of scale in a new kind of  development projects.

Required readings
– Smillie, I. 2000. “Chapter 3: The Best of the West: Thinking Big.” In Mastering the Machine Revisited: Poverty, Aid and Technology, pp. 35-48. Verlag.
– Mitchell, T. 1991. “America’s Egypt: Discourse in the Development Industry.” Middle East Report, pp.255-272.

Background readings
– Arp, H.P. and Baumgärtel, K. 2005. Case Study: The Consequences of the Akosombo Dam. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich.
– Easterly, W. 2002. “Aid for Investment” in The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. MIT Press.

Other resources
– Polgreen, L. 2013. “Groups of Emerging Nations Plan to Form Development BankThe New York Times, and economist Dani Rodrik thoughts on the plan, “What the World Needs from the BRICS,” Project Syndacate.

Lecture 3, 6/3

Development: A Brief History and Key Concepts
In today’s lecture, we will continue our discussion on how poverty is defined and measured, and connect it to different concepts of ‘development’. We will briefly review the evolution of thinking about development from the post-II World War period to contemporary times, and discuss how the focus has changed from growth and GDP to a more holistic approach, well represented by the Millennium Development Goals.

Required readings
– Thomas, A. 2000. “Meanings and Views of Development” In T. Allen and A. Thomas (Eds) Poverty and Development: Into the 21st Century, pp. 23-48. Oxford University Press.
– Sen, A. 2001. “What is Development About?” In Meier, G. and J. Stiglitz (Eds) Frontiers of Development Economics: The Future in Perspective, 506-513. Oxford University Press.
– Skim: “Can Technology End Poverty” in Boston Review, November-December 2010.

Background readings
Ziai, A. 2013. “The Discourse of “Development” and Why the Concept Should be Abandoned” Development in Practice, Vol. 23 No. 1.
– Corbridge, S. 2007. “The (Im)possibility of Development Studies.” Economy and Society, Vol. 36 No. 2.
– James, J. 2001. “The Global Information Infrastructure Revisited.” Third World Quarterly Vol. 22 No. 5.

Other resources
UN website for the Millennium Development Goals
World Bank, Voices of the Poor documentary

Lecture 2, 5/31

Measuring Poverty
Poverty can be defined in very different ways. It can be measured in absolute or in relative terms, by looking at financial indicators, or taking into consideration broader factors. The way poverty is measured and defined affects the policies that are enacted to reduce it. In this session, we will look at monetary approaches at poverty assessment, and at multidimensional ones such as the Human Development Index.

Required readings
Banerjee, A. and Duflo, E.. 2012. “Think again, again” In Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty. PublicAffairs. Browse the book’s website http://pooreconomics.com
– Gates, B. 2013. “GDP Is a Terrible Way to Measure a Country’s Economy And it hinders our ability to help the poor.” In Slate
Video: Rosling, H. 2007. “New Insights on Poverty” TedTalks
– Video: Duflo, E. 2010. “Social Experiments to Fight Poverty” TedTalks

Background readings
– McIntyre, L. and Munro, J. 2013 “Nobody helps us”: insights from ultra-poor Bangladeshi women on being beyond reach.” Development in Practice Vol. 23, No. 2.
– Lu, Caizhen. 2011. Poverty and Development in China: Alternative Approaches to Poverty Assessment. Routledge.
– Chambers, R. 1995. “Poverty and Livelihoods: Whose reality counts?” Environment and Urbanization, Vol. 7, No. 1:173-204.

Other resources
World Bank, Poverty Portal
UNDP, Human Development Index (HDI)
Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)