Developing Data? Politics & Markets in Digital East Africa and Beyond
This research network brings together scholars and civil society to examine how digital data is remaking politics and economies in East Africa and beyond.
While this is currently only a networking grant, collaborators aim toward a larger research project in which we would combine ethnography, focus groups, web scraping, and perhaps text analysis.
Methodological Challenges and Questions
Two potential challenges come to mind. One is a question of access: many of the digital practices of interest (such as political microtargeting, or data mining) happen behind closed doors. Another is one of language and interpretation: researchers work in a polyglot region, with public discourse occurring in a combination of English, Swahili, other vernaculars, and combinations of the above. There is also a high degree of fluidity and creativity in language use. Will digital tools capture these?
So far, networking involves use of virtual conference software and researching and sharing literature reviews, but collaborators are keen to expand.
Kevin Donovan, Centre of African Studies.