The principal question guiding my research is: what can we learn from examining cultures of production and uses of digital technologies in the Global South? By cultures of production, I mean the situated practices and discourses around innovation and the making of software and hardware. By uses, I refer to both the material and symbolic ways that digital technologies are taken up in different contexts around the globe. The question is purposely phrased to draw attention to the geopolitical context within which this work is located, not to accept the easy binaries suggested by ‘the Global South’ in opposition to the North, but rather as an analytical device to interrogate taken for granted ideas about lives and cultures in particular parts of the world.
I locate my work at the intersection of three disciplines that are central to academic and public understanding of the role of computing and digital technologies in society: Communication, Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and Science & Technology Studies (STS). I take a primarily critical analytic approach in my research, informed by cultural, feminist, and decolonial studies, with the empirical work grounded in ethnography and discourse analysis.
Currently, I'm studying tech entrepreneurship, making, and transnational collaborations within 'innovation culture'. I've conducted ethnographic work with entrepreneurs, startups, and tech hubs in Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, the south of China, and Silicon Valley, and I have an ongoing project on tech collaborations between African and Chinese entrepreneurs and another on African techies in innovation hubs like Silicon Valley and Shenzhen. I'm writing my first book on tech entrepreneurship as a mode of living and space of work in Ghana.
My scholarly output contributes research from multiple regions, drawing on both individual work in the south of China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Silicon Valley and collaborative work with others in other parts of Africa, Asia, and the United States. Collectively, my work moves towards a more inclusive and expansive global view of how technologies emerge and what people do with them.
My research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), ProQuest, the University of Michigan, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Keywords: tech entrepreneurship, digital technology, innovation, design, production, Africa, China, networked radio