Critical Examination of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D)

Seminar in Critical Development Studies, Spring 2024

This seminar is co-hosted by Cornell Global Development and the Graduate Field of Development Studies.


In this seminar, Alejandro Mayoral Baños will delve into the nuanced and complex landscape of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D), exploring its potential benefits and inherent challenges. This seminar aims to unpack the optimistic narratives surrounding technology’s role in advancing development goals, while critically addressing the darker undercurrents of data colonialism. As we navigate through various ICT4D initiatives, we confront the pressing issue of how these technologies, often heralded as tools for “empowerment and progress,” can inadvertently perpetuate new forms of colonialism. Data colonialism, a term that has gained traction in recent discussions, refers to the exploitation of digital information to extend economic and social inequalities, often mirroring historical patterns of domination and exploitation. By examining case studies and theoretical frameworks, this seminar seeks to shed light on the mechanisms through which ICT4D can both challenge and reinforce existing power dynamics, urging a reevaluation of how we deploy and govern technology in the context of global development.

About the speaker

Alejandro Mayoral Baños is Executive Director & Founder of the Indigenous Friends Association.

About the Critical Development Studies Seminar Series

The Critical Development Studies Seminar Series is a graduate student-led effort that aims to provide space for junior scholars to share innovative research and discuss emergent debates within critical development studies.

Invited speakers cover a range of geographical areas, disciplinary backgrounds, and research topics. Examples of potential topics include agroecology and food justice issues, state-building, land and labor, extractivist politics, the gendered and racial dynamics of ongoing capitalist development, and the political ecological histories of the global development project. The target audience for the series is graduate students and faculty interested in critical development studies both within the Cornell community as well as external scholars.

Seminar co-organizers, 2023-24: Christa Nuñez, María Boa, Jenny Goldstein, Mariah Doyle-Stephenson

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