While I have been reading quite broadly (as is quite common I think for the orals literatures development process) and generally following this list (though definitely not as closely as I had hoped!), for purposes of completing this quarter with a tangible output, I’ve decided to narrow in on a particular topic that will enable me to read a bit more strategically for the remaining 3 weeks of the quarter (GULP!! WHERE DID TIME FLY TO!?).
The following list of sources has emerged as I’ve begun conceptualizing the presentation I will give this week at the upcoming African Studies Association (ASA) Conference. I plan to explore how conceptualizations of labor and expertise in the Kenyan technology sector are shifting in light of recent technology skills-building programs such as the Africa XL program (supported by the World Bank Group with financial assistance from the Governments of Finland, Norway and Sweden, and managed by implementing partners IMC Worldwide, VC4Africa and Koltai&Co). Borrowing from Ferguson (1994) who argued for understanding what aid programmes do besides fail to help poor people, I ask the same of tech entrepreneurship training programs being run for youth in Nairobi. Beyond the expected or stated “impacts,” what is set in motion and what is justified as a result of these programs? To explore this question, I am particularly interested in investigating the state of the university and public education, especially in light of the structural adjustment programs of the 1980s. How does the World Bank leverage notions of expertise and technical knowledge to justify working with private multinational tech companies like IBM and Facebook to inject private capital and skills training into Nairobi’s tech scene? What is the perceived and actualized role of local and international higher education within this system?
Tech entrepreneurship, based on an individual’s own personal characteristics and capacities, would appear to be the “anti-assembly line.” But could we view tech capacity development programs as in fact the new “assembly line” where PEOPLE are now the “products” being groomed and “skilled up” for global markets? How is tech entrepreneurship being standardized and institutionalized through programs like Africa XL?
In exploring these relationships, I plan to draw heavily on critiques of development (e.g. Kothari 2005; Cornwall 2007), particularly critiques of the Bank (e.g. Goldman 2001, 2007, 2006; Mazrui 1997). I plan to also draw upon some of the postcolonial technoscience literature (e.g. Irani 2015; Philip 2016) and discussions of the impacts of SAPs on higher education in Africa (e.g. Heyneman 2003; Carnoy 1995; Reimers 1994; Ochwa-Echel 2013; Taylor-Leech and Benson 2017). I am also interested in diving into how different members of the Kenyan tech scene also view these relationships with local government and universities; and international universities and multinationals. For example, a leader in the Nairobi tech scene, Erik Hersman has noted: “I do not think universities will be the answer; at least, I have not seen them work for technology education. Graduates fresh out of university are, in general, not prepared to work in a technology company. They are not coming out of these institutions with the necessary skills,” (Ndemo and Weiss 2017, 52). There is some rich data in the recently published “Digital Kenya” book (Ndemo and Weiss 2017) that includes first-hand interviews with other leaders in the Nairobi tech scene.
Revised Reading List:
Alvarez, Sonia E. 1999. “Advocating Feminism: The Latin American Feminist NGO ‘Boom.’” International Feminist Journal of Politics 1 (2):181–209. https://doi.org/10.1080/146167499359880.
Alvarez, Sonia E., Evelina Dagnino, and Arturo Escobar, eds. 1998. Cultures of Politics/Politics of Cultures: Re-Visioning Latin American Social Movements. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press.
Boltanski, Luc, and Eve Chiapello. 2005. “The New Spirit of Capitalism.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 18 (3–4):161–88. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10767-006-9006-9.
Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. 2000. “Invisible Mediators of Action: Classification and the Ubiquity of Standards.” Mind, Culture, and Activity 7 (1–2):147–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/10749039.2000.9677652.
Carnoy, Martin. 1995. “Structural Adjustment and the Changing Face of Education.” International Labour Review 134:653–74.
Chatterjee, Partha, Kalyan Sanyal, and Partha Chatterjee. 2016. “Rethinking Postcolonial Capitalist Development: A Conversation between Kalyan Sanyal and Partha Chatterjee.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 36 (1):102–11.
Cornwall, Andrea, and Deborah Eade, eds. 2010. Deconstructing Development Discourse: Buzzwords and Fuzzwords. Rugby, Warwickshire, UK : Oxford: Practical Action Pub. ; Oxfam.
Goldman, Michael. 2001a. “The Birth of a Discipline: Producing Authoritative Green Knowledge, World Bank-Style.” Ethnography 2 (2):191–217. https://doi.org/10.1177/14661380122230894.
———. 2001b. “Constructing an Environmental State: Eco-Governmentality and Other Transnational Practices of a ‘Green’ World Bank.” Social Problems 48 (4):499–523. https://doi.org/10.1525/sp.2001.48.4.499.
———. 2006. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. Yale University Press.
———. 2007. “How ‘Water for All!’ Policy Became Hegemonic: The Power of the World Bank and Its Transnational Policy Networks.” Geoforum, Pro-Poor Water? The Privatisation and Global Poverty Debate, 38 (5):786–800. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2005.10.008.
Hart, Keith. 1973. “Informal Income Opportunities and Urban Employment in Ghana.” The Journal of Modern African Studies 11 (1):61–89. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022278X00008089.
Hart, Keith, and Horacio Ortiz. 2014. “The Anthropology of Money and Finance: Between Ethnography and World History.” Annual Review of Anthropology 43 (1):465–82. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102313-025814.
Heyneman, S. P. 2003. “The History and Problems in the Making of Education Policy at the World Bank 1960–2000.” International Journal of Educational Development 23 (3):315–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0738-0593(02)00053-6.
Irani, Lilly. 2015. “Hackathons and the Making of Entrepreneurial Citizenship.” Science, Technology & Human Values 40 (5):799–824. https://doi.org/10.1177/0162243915578486.
Kothari, Uma. 2005. “Authority and Expertise: The Professionalisation of International Development and the Ordering of Dissent.” Antipode 37 (3):425–446.
Mazrui, Alamin. 1997. “The World Bank, the Language Question and the Future of African Education.” Race & Class 38 (3):35–48. https://doi.org/10.1177/030639689703800303.
Ndemo, Bitange, and Tim Weiss, eds. 2017. Digital Kenya: An Entrepreneurial Revolution in the Making. Palgrave Studies of Entrepreneurship in Africa. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ochwa-Echel, James R. 2013. “Neoliberalism and University Education in Sub-Saharan Africa.” SAGE Open 3 (3):2158244013504933. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244013504933.
Philip, Kavita. 2016. “Telling Histories of the Future: The Imaginaries of Indian Technoscience.” Identities 23 (3):276–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/1070289X.2015.1034129.
Reimers, Fernando. 1994. “Education and Structural Adjustment in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.” International Journal of Educational Development 14 (2):119–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/0738-0593(94)90017-5.
Sorlin, Sverker, and Hebe Vessuri. 2007. Knowledge Society vs. Knowledge Economy Knowledge, Power, and Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10171516.
Taylor-Leech, Kerry, and Carol Benson. 2017. “Language Planning and Development Aid: The (In)visibility of Language in Development Aid Discourse.” Current Issues in Language Planning 18 (4):339–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/14664208.2017.1360690.
White, Sarah C. 1999. “NGOs, Civil Society, and the State in Bangladesh: The Politics of Representing the Poor.” Development and Change 30 (2):307–26. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-7660.00119.
Willoughby-Herard, Tiffany. 2015. Waste of a White Skin: The Carnegie Corporation and the Racial Logic of White Vulnerability. Oakland, California: University of California Press.
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