Mobile (for) Development: When Digital Giants Take Care of Poor Women

Monday, 19 February, 2024 - 16:00

Presented by : 

al Dahdah

[ Please register on Zoom in advance of this event. ]

Propelled by new philanthropists, mHealth programmes recreate old paths of dependency and contribute to the influence of the North American and European digital industry by creating new markets in the Global South. By focusing on individual solutions to address structural issues, these initiatives displace and reinforce multiple inequalities. Indeed, mobile technology introduces technical and commercial criteria that condition access to healthcare, thus transforming mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion of individuals. This Element focuses on the way in which these technical objects modify power relations at both international and local levels. It invites us to examine how mobile technology is contributing to the emergence of new forms of power, to the reconfiguration of social roles, to the globalisation of devices, to the datafication of health and to the transformation of healthcare and health practices. The Element uses the case study of the Mobile Technology for Community Health (Motech) mobile platform – today one of the most widely used in the Global South – to analyse the particular ways in which this mobile health technology sets out to influence and organise others, as well as the discourses of promise or fear mobilised to achieve these goals. Through a multi-sited ethnography of Motech in Ghana and India, this Element provides a first-hand look at initiatives that promise to improve health in the Global South through the use of mobile phones. From the Gates Foundation offices to community health centres in the villages of India and Ghana, this investigation clarifies the sociotechnical assemblages and datafication processes specific to mHealth in a globalised biomedical field and analyses the consequences of mobile tech- nologies on the delivery of care and on the health of the women enrolled in the Motech programme. 

This open access Element book from CUP is magnificently short, but those who cannot manage the full 60 pages, should please read the Intro, Chaps 1, 3, 6 and Conclusion.

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