AO. strong discourse analyses

  • AO: Coban uses Butler’s “performative agency” to talk about how tech makers are performing deficient environments and building tech that has social impact on broad problems like “poverty” (61). She calls the performative practices around tech development in Nairobi that materialize and stabilize the norms of social impact a “performance of poverty” (62).

  • AO: Coban looks at the academic and popular discourse on maker spaces, noting that she followed narratives citing Czarniawska (2004).

  • AO: Coban notes that the diffusion of tech model (tech eminating from the “core”) characterized much of the early literature although it has been heavily critiqued.

  • AO: Coban relies on the binary of “global South/North” without necessarily problematizing it.

  • AO: Uses Spivak and Said to talk about the “othering” of the target group of technology.

  • AO: Coban references a lot of Kenyan academic and non-academic sources. This is in contrast to the work by global health experts who largely cite each other (mostly non-African scholars).

  • AO: silicon valley solutionism (Mozorov 2013)

  • AO: Coban argues that start-up founders would rather avoid a reproduction of colonial stereotypes and “othering” but feel forced to “perform it” to get funding. I am not sure this is always a cogniscant choice by all tech founders. The structures and methods for “knowing the users” and developing technology solutions need to also be looked at to understand how and why particular exoticized “users” are thought of over others. I do not believe it is entirely a self-aware choice and I think the heterogenous characteristics of the entrepreneurs need to also emerge better in the analysis to counter the narratives that the author critiques. Who are these entrepeneurs and what are their own biases and ideas about the users they are developing for? I think analysis between the *users* of the tech and start-ups themselves might also help to shed light on the complexities and different aspects of performativity (which is involved in all aspects of human interactions). 


Analytic (Question)




Creative Commons Licence