CFP Decolonising ICT4D – Digital for development: Critiques and Re-imaginings

RGS-IBG Annual Conference, Royal Geographical Society, London

Wednesday 30 August – Friday 1 September 2017

Call for Papers (Deadline Friday 10th February, 2017)


From the late 1990s onwards, the proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has inspired a parallel drive to leverage ICTs for international development practice. The emerging new field has been labelled ICT4D – ICTs for development or, more recently, digital development, and covers the use of e.g. radio, computers, social media and mobile phones. On the one hand, digitization and datafication are doubtlessly shaping economic and social structures and can offer great opportunities for service delivery (in e.g. education and healthcare), democratic engagement, and activism. On the other hand, ICT4D has been criticised as an overhyped discourse underplaying continuing structural inequalities (Carmody & Murphy 2015) or as, in parts, a naive replaying of modernisation discourses and technodeterminism of earlier phases of international development practice (Kleine & Unwin 2009; Verne 2016).

In this session we seek to apply a postcolonial and decolonial lens to the ICT4D discourse. We welcome papers which e.g.

  • critically examine the role of ICTs in past and present imperialist and (neo-)colonial projects
  • use Science and Technology Studies (STS) approaches to deconstruct Enlightenment notions linking science and technology to development and progress
  • deconstruct the „D“ in ICT4D, ask what models of development are being implied and gauge the potential for reframing these
  • examine the spatial patterns and political economy of knowledge production and innovation
  • critically study the “aid industry” and/or the role of technology firms in integrating digital hardware, software, and data capture in development practice
  • analyse the patterns of exclusion leading to ongoing digital divides along gender, age, race and class inequalities
  • report on or imagine ways in which ICTs can still be used in alternative/subaltern imaginings of the “good life“ and diverse futures


If you are interested in presenting a 15min paper in this session, please send your abstract (of 250 words) to Julia Verne ( and Dorothea Kleine ( by Friday, February 10, 2017.

Co-sponsored by the Digital Geographies Working Group and the Developing Areas Research Group