April workshop Interview State of the Art documents
The second meeting of the CITIGEN research network took place on 26-28 April 2011, in New Delhi (India). The objectives of the workshop were:
The workshop aimed at facilitating the articulation of emerging concepts and tentative theories from the ongoing work in the CITIGEN network and channel these into a debate on the larger questions of democratic structures and institutions, and their shifting meanings for marginalised women's participation in the information society, as equal citizens. In order to expand and deepen the debates and discussions, a few scholars working on feminist frameworks from a Southern perspective, and who are potential contributors to the network's research, were invited to comment and present their perspectives on the project's ongoing work.
Find out more about the workshop here.
What conceptual threads did you see emerging at the conference? What ideas did you find intriguing?
In thinking about the conference and reviewing my notes on the presentations, I am struck by how many of the representatives of the research groups and authors of the think-pieces are interrogating and refining the concepts that are critical to understanding gender and citizenship in the information society, including those that are central to their own research and practice. As a “public sphere theorist,” not surprisingly, I was very interested in the attention directed to issues of “private” and “public” in respect to gender and the information society. I have been intrigued by the “importation” of the concept of the public sphere into Asian contexts for a number of years, so I suppose that it was not surprising that I raised this issue with the China team in particular since the People's Republic of China was such as vocal advocate of “Asian values” in the “Asian value debate” over human rights. It seemed that a number of participants were concerned with the risk of becoming overly technologically-deterministic, which is very much a risk of conducting research that takes on the issue of access. Yet, many participants had a healthy scepticism about access-is-everything approaches, and I recall that one participant commented that “openness” on the Internet is not the same as “equality.” Participants overwhelmingly refused the notion that the Internet is a great equaliser. Whether “the Internet” has the potential to equalise is another question and depends on what one means by “the Internet,” but that’s another subject, too unwieldy to address for purposes of this interview.
As an advisor of the project, how do you envision the future of the network on basis of the ideas that emerged during the workshop?
I suppose that I don’t need to remark on how critical it is to have funding to have a future? Bracketing this question, I think that all of us have learned a great deal since the inception of this programme – not only from the research reports but also from the interaction overall. As with all projects with which I am familiar, one had to learn to expect the unexpected, put the care and effort into understanding the ideas and circumstances of other participants, let patience, strategic thinking, and an orientation toward results – and, what I have called the “legacy” of the research – be one’s guide. I hope that the programme continues, and I believe that the network can continue regardless. One aspect of the programme that worked very well should be mentioned: the relationships among academics, activists/advocates, and practitioners were among the best that I have encountered in many years of working with, and for, groups that are not part of my academic world. After many years of telling colleagues that there are not so many differences in knowledge and concerns between many academics and advocates/practitioners, I feel as though this project has solidified my case!
To read the full interview, click here.
The first output of the research teams is a State of the Art document, which is an analysis of the current state of the field researched. It includes a literature review, based on the hypothesis developed in the research proposal. This first stage will provide the basis upon which the field work and the analyses will be built. Read the documents here.