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Smart Futures

Smart Futures? Transforming human-nature relations through mobile information services

Large-scale land-use change, particularly in relation to programs striving for agricultural intensification, often comes along with substantial changes in the organization of farming practices. Soils only recently converted into agricultural land, outgrower schemes, a different selection of crops, novel irrigation systems and emerging commodity chains severely alter the setting for small-scale farmers in Kenya as well as in Tanzania. 

The result is new uncertainties, generally amplified by increasing climatic variability, fluctuating market prices and rather unstable infrastructural and political contexts. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), especially in the form of the ever-increasing ubiquitous mobile phone, are usually perceived as actual or at least potential tools to help farmers tackle these uncertainties. By providing access to knowledge about future events, for example, in the form of weather forecasts or price developments, they are meant to both increase agricultural productivity and make it more sustainable.

The project takes this debate on “Information and Communication Technologies for Development” (ICT4D) as a point of departure to study how future-related knowledge becomes mediated through mobile information services (m- services) and how such m-services, in turn, form a 

 decisive part of future-making in rural Africa today. Focusing on the ways in which m-services in the agricultural sector are generated and inform farming practices in two distinct case studies in the Kenyan Rift Valley and the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania, the project addresses three interrelated questions:

 

1) What visions of (agricultural) development for rural Africa are mediated through mobile information services?

2) How do mobile services translate probabilistic futures into anticipatory instructions by linking scientists, IT specialists, development practitioners and users?

3) How do mobile services transform the way users perceive and act on nature by mediating a specific kind of information and guidance, and thus transform human- nature relations more generally?

By answering these questions, the project will contribute to a more thorough understanding of the ways in which the digital mediation of future-oriented knowledge leads to social- ecological transformation by replacing experience-based forms of knowing and acting with calculative and probabilistic approaches to the future.

This Project is part of the Collaborative Research Project (CRC228) Future Rural Africa. Find out more at www.crc228.de 


Astrid MatejcekProfil_Astrid_Matejcek

PhD Candidate

Meckenheimer Allee 166 - D-53115 Bonn 
Büro: Geozentrum - Meckenheimer Allee 176
Raum: U1.032
E-mail: [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]

 

 

Julian RochlitzJulianRochlitz.jpg

PhD Candidate

Meckenheimer Allee 166 - D-53115 Bonn 
Büro: Geozentrum - Meckenheimer Allee 176
Raum: U1.032
E-Mail: [Email protection active, please enable JavaScript.]
  

 

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