PROJECT MEMBERS' RESEARCH
Professor Laura Stark (Ethnology, U. of Jyväskylä). Mobile telephony as a solution for information scarcity in a Tanzanian slum. Slum dwellers who cannot afford newspapers, radio or television face an acute lack of information about the world around them, even though slums are already part of the global flows of goods and commerce. Focusing on two informal settlements in Dar es Salaam characterized by some of the worst poverty in the city, Stark examines what information, which could be cheaply conveyed through mobile phones, is most important to people's daily lives and especially to the lives of female slum dwellers. Stark also examines slum residents' perceptions of the potential uses as well as dangers of mobile phones, and looks at how gendered uses of mobile phones are incorporated into the social and cultural structures of survival in a slum.
Ph.D. Perpetual Crentsil (Anthropology, U. of Helsinki). Mobile telephony and healthcare delivery for women in rural Ghana and South Africa. Crentsil will focuses on mobile solutions for improving healthcare delivery systems in Africa (Ghana), and maps out mobile technology's impact on health care services provided to women and children among the rural and urban poor. She addresses the following questions: how are mobile phones being used to improve reproductive health, the delivery of health information and care services provided to rural women? How are these phones supporting the large-scale management of diseases such as HIV/AIDS? How can mobile phone applications be put to new uses for improving health in general and women's health in particular? Crentsil's interest in her study of mobile phones for health information dissemination stems from her extensive research on HIV/AIDS and health systems in Africa, which resulted in her doctoral dissertation Death, Ancestors, and HIV/AIDS among the Akan of Ghana.
Adjunct Professor Jukka Jouhki (Ethnology, U. of Jyväskylä). Diffusion, Gendered Use and Cultural Values of Mobile Technology in Rural Tamil Nadu, South India. Adjunct Prof., Ph.D. Jukka Jouhki (Ethnology, U. of Jyväskylä). Jouhki returns to the fieldsite of his dissertation research to focus on how the diffusion of mobile technology is changing the economic and sociocultural dynamics of rural Indian society, particularly with regard to gender and caste in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. Jouhki examines economic costs and incentives to mobile use, asking: do women and men perceive costs and benefits differently? What mobile applications and practices could increase the benefit to women? Would mobile banking make a difference? He also looks at caste-specific use and grassroots cost-benefit analysis among the very poor. How do untouchables use mobile technology? What kinds of strategies are implemented by poverty-level mobile phone owners when there is little money for the usage? Is there a digital/telephony divide between the mobile phone owners and non-owners? Tamil Nadu is an affluent state of India which has long relied on private enterprise for economic growth and has one of the most active ICT policies in India. As such, it provides an interesting comparison case with Tenhunen's prior research on rural West Bengal which has been ruled by the Communist party since 1977 and has successfully pioneered a land reform which has led to rapid growth in agricultural growth. For further comparison, Jouhki will study mobile phone use in Thirunvanmiur, a slum in Southern Chennai. Jouhki's main affiliates in India are Department of Anthropology at University of Madras and Centre for Women's Development and Research in Chennai as well as Auroville Village Action Group in Irumbai.
MA Sanna Tawah (Ethnology, U. of Jyväskylä). The Market in my Hands: Mobile Phones for Social and Financial Connectivity among "Buyamsellam" women in rural Cameroon. This research focuses on "buyam-sellam" market women in the grasslands region of Cameroon, West Africa. Tawah's study will look at the ways in which market women use mobile phones in their everyday life and in their trading activities. The research aims to explain what role mobile phones play in the women's social and financial networks.
Acting Professor, Ph.D. Sirpa Tenhunen (Anthropology, U. of Helsinki). Social construction of gender sensitive mobile applications. Sirpa Tenhunen analyses the uses of mobile technology in India and Kenya. In her forthcoming publication, she examines the political and governance potential of mobile phones. Her main aim in this project is to map out neglected development issues that could be tackled with mobile technology and, and to seek answers to the question of how businesses, state and NGOs can co-operate to successfully produce affordable services. She will specifically work with NGOs to study potential mobile applications which could benefit women's health.