208 research outputs found

    Gatherings of mobility and immobility: itinerant “criminal tribes” and their containment by the Salvation Army in colonial South India

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    In retelling the history of “criminal tribe” settlements managed by the Salvation Army in Madras Presidency (colonial India) from 1911, I argue that neither the mobility–immobility relationship nor the compositional heterogeneity of (im)mobility practices can be adequately captured by relational dialecticism espoused by leading mobilities scholars. Rather than emerging as an opposition through dialectics, the relationship between (relative) mobility and containment may be characterized by overlapping hybridity and difference. This differential hybridity becomes apparent in two ways if mobility and containment are viewed as immanent gatherings of humans and nonhumans. First, the same entities may participate in gatherings of mobility and of containment, while producing different effects in each gathering. Here, nonhumans enter a gathering, and constitute (im)mobility practices, as actors that make history irreducibly differently from other actors that they may be entangled with. Second, modern technologies and amodern “institutions” may be indiscriminately drawn together in all gatherings

    Innovation for the base of the pyramid: Critical perspectives from development studies on heterogeneity and participation

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    This article criticises current BoP approaches for under-appreciating two issues that play vital roles in projects targeting the poor at the BoP: heterogeneity among the poor, and the intricacies of participatory partnerships between TNCs, the non-profit sector (NGOs) and local poor communities in the global south. Our main contention is that the extant BoP literature has a naive view of what working with the poor really involves, which grossly underestimates adverse power relationships and disregards the hierarchies between the poor and outsiders who administer development interventions. To unpack the hidden complexities associated with heterogeneity and partnership dynamics, we draw on extensive knowledge from the field of development studies, which has accumulated key insights about working in and with poorer communities over several decades.innovation and development, participation, poverty alleviation, TNCs

    Caste as Community? Networks of social affinity in a South Indian village

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    We examine three theories of caste and community using new data on social networks among residents of a south Indian village. The first theory treats individual caste groups as separated communities driven by the Brahmanical ideology of hierarchy based on purity and pollution. The second theory departs from the first by placing kings and landlords at the centre of rural (primeval) social structure. Here ritual giving by kings provides the glue that holds a community together by transferring inauspiciousness to gift-recipients and ensuring community welfare. The third theory, that may be treated as a corollary of the second, argues that powerful leaders in the religious and political domains act as patrons of people in their constituencies and forge a sense of community. The resulting community may be single or multi-caste. Using a community structure algorithm from social network analysis, we divide the network of the village into thirteen tight-knit clusters. We find that no cluster or community in the social network has exactly the same boundaries as a caste group in the village. Barring three exceptions, all clusters are multi-caste. Our results are most consistent with the third theory: each cluster has a patron/leader who represents the interests of his constituency at village-level fora and bridges caste and community divides.Social networks, culture, caste, social change, community development, rural India

    Economic growth, innovation systems, and institutional change: a trilogy in five parts

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    Development and growth are products of the interplay and interaction among heterogeneous actors operating in specific institutional settings. There is a much alluded-to, but under-investigated, link between economic growth, innovation systems, and institutions. There is widespread agreement among most economists on the positive reinforcing link between innovation and growth. However, the importance of institutions as catalysts in this link has not been adequately examined. The concept of innovation systems has the potential to fill this gap. But these studies have not conducted in-depth institutional analyses or focussed on institutional transformation processes, thereby failing to link growth theory to the substantive institutional tradition in economics. In this paper we draw attention to the main shortcomings of orthodox and heterodox growth theories, some of which have been addressed by the more descriptive literature on innovation systems. Critical overviews of the literatures on growth and innovation systems are used as a foundation to propose a new perspective on the role of institutions and a framework for conducting institutional analysis using a multi-dimensional typology of institutions. The framework is then applied to cases of Taiwan and South Korea to highlight the instrumental role played by institutions in facilitating and curtailing economic development and growth

    Configurations of agency and power in the academic discourse on the Green Revolution in East Africa

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    In this paper I perform a discourse analysis of the academic literature on the Green Revolution (GR) in East Africa, governed by two questions: what form or shape is given to agency in each GR study? And, which agencies are considered prime movers that play leading roles in the narratives and which others are relegated to subsidiary roles? A wide variety of figurations of agency are mapped, including socio-ecological events that are Malthusian or critical, heroic individuals, technology and its users, as well as relational entanglements between social, ecological and technical entities. Yet, the analysis reveals that the process of adjustment and adaptation between different social, ecological and technical entities, in practice, on farmers’ fields and beyond, is largely unarticulated in the GR discourse. Central among prime mover figurations are national governments, donors, scientists, market-based approaches and agricultural intensification technologies. I argue that such figurations help legitimate government- and donor-driven GR efforts in the last decade and a half, which are delivered largely through market mechanisms. Subsuming heterogeneous entities into unified groups such as East African smallholders, or Sub-Saharan African soils, some studies may depict their actions as homogeneous. Such homogenization masks relations of power within groups and obscures the ontological multiplicity of things. Homogenizing depictions of (inefficient) smallholders and (depleted) soils may also help steamroll the use of standardized modern technologies such as inorganic fertilizers.ESR

    Defying Control: Aspects of caring engagement between divergent knowledge practices

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    In recent years, the notion Anthropocene has been celebrated for its potential to bridge modern divides between nature and culture as well as critiqued for embedding the fallacy of human control in its nub. Building on these recent debates, and using insights on ontological pluralism from anthropology and philosophy of science, I outline four conceptual aspects for enacting caring engagement between divergent practices. These aspects are: a) egalitarian commitment to sharing epistemological authority between practices; b) ontological sensitivity, by letting other practices define their own relational bases of knowing and making; c) non-subsumptive learning from other practices; and d) affinity in alterity, developed across widening divergence between practices. I argue that caring engagement may be central to transforming ‘modernist’ techno-scientific practices that are constituted by an ethos of control and by disqualification of diverse ways of knowing/ making. Relinquishing control and disqualification, modernist practices may undergo transformations to become minoritarian practices that admit uncertainty, ignorance, ambiguity, fluidity and fragility. In mutual engagement with each other, transforming minoritarian practices may become generative of diversity in the form of novel knowing/making practices immanent to their own heterogeneous worlds composed of human and nonhuman forces. Such unbounded ontological pluralism will not be realised by adopting aspects of caring engagement as fully-formed principles, but rather by admitting and reworking the aspects as open questions that find relevance in ongoing natural-cultural struggles for sustainability and emancipation

    Social network and private provision of public goods

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    Using a simple model with interdependent utilities, we study how social networks influence individual voluntary contributions to the provision of a public good. Departing from the standard model of public good provision, we assume that an agent’s utility has two terms: (a) ‘ego’-utility derived from the agent’s consumption of public and private goods, and (b) a social utility which is the sum of utility spillovers from other agents with whom the agent has social relationships. We establish conditions for the existence of a unique interior Nash equilibrium and describe the equilibrium in terms of network characteristics. We show that social network always has a positive effect on the provision of the public good. We also find that, in networks with “small world”-like modular structures, ‘bridging’ ties connecting distant parts of social network play an important role inducing an agent’s contribution to public good. Assumptions and results of the model are discussed in relation to the role of social capital in community-level development projects and to the effect of innovation networks on firms’ R&D investments

    Smart as democratically transformative? An analysis of ‘Smart City’ sociotechnical imaginary in India

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    ‘Smart cities’ as sociotechnical imaginaries have been enthusiastically embraced by urban planners and policymakers around the world. In 2014, the government of India launched its Smart Cities Mission ostensibly to create socially inclusive and sustainable cities. Aspiring to make their cities smart, and following guidelines provided by the national government, urban authorities from all corners of India submitted proposals to compete in a Smart City Challenge. If successful, they would receive financial and technical support from the national government, to carry out the proposed smart transformations. Focussing on the urban mobility aspects of one such proposal, submitted by New Town, Kolkata, we assess how democratically transformative was the collective process of imagining smart cities in India. A democratically transformative process not only imagines the benefits of smart transformations to be widely distributed across different sections of the city, but it is also participatory and articulated. A participatory process affords possibilities to the most marginalised citizens to engage and raise their diverging and dissenting voices. And an articulated process registers the voices of the most marginalised in the sociotechnical imaginary it produces. Our results indicate that while considerable efforts were made to engage with citizens in the making of the imaginary, the process remained highly uneven and technology-centric, shaped by ‘globalised’ aspirations of urban smartness and by the upper and middle classes, leaving behind the voices and needs of poor and marginalised citizens of Kolkata
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