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Resume here: OkuneA – Resume_Sept2017

A PhD student at the University of California Irvine’s Department of Anthropology, I work on questions of expertise, identity, and technology & development in Nairobi.

I am interested in experimentation around how to make academic knowledge production more open, while also reflectively questioning and critiquing such attempts to do so. What power dynamics and macro and micro-politics persist and structure interactions and outcomes despite narratives of equitability and collaboration?

My work builds on five years of first-hand experience working in the tech and development sector in Nairobi, Kenya. In my current project, I study the identity politics of technology research in Nairobi, Kenya and how particular places and people come to represent the whole continent. Through this project, I am tackling questions of expertise and indigeneity via what I see as a phenomenon of “over-resesearch” on particular communities that represent narratives of “Africa Rising” or “Africa as Hopeless Poverty.”

In my previous position as Research Lead at iHub, Nairobi’s innovation hub for the tech community, I provided strategic guidance for growth of tech research in the region and managed a team of twenty to surface information useful for the technology ecosystem. At iHub Research, I also directed the pioneering Umati project, monitoring dangerous speech online in Kenya; documented mobile usage patterns at the Kenyan base of the pyramid; and developed a framework to test the viability of crowdsourcing during elections.

Prior to moving to Kenya in 2010 on a Fulbright fellowship, I was involved in corporate outreach to engage businesses in dialogue on sustainability at the World Wildlife Fund (Washington, DC, USA). I have experience working with infoDev (World Bank), the US State Department, and the Environmental Law Institute (ELI). A graduate of Georgetown University’s Science, Technology & International Affairs program, I have also studied project management through the University of Cape Town.