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Campesina leaders, life histories and ICT for development: Cybernetworking and rural women in Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras)

Posted on:2005-03-13Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:University of Colorado at BoulderCandidate:Rubinoff, Donna DFull Text:PDF
As the technologies of globalization, especially information and communications technology (ICT), become more widely available, development institutions have reoriented their strategies to incorporate ICT and cybernetworking for development (ICT4D). Some cybernetworks have been founded on an expansive notion of marginalized people's participation in structures of development and governance. Nevertheless, for some groups, including rural women ( campesinas), material, political and social barriers to ICT access and use raise questions about the real value of ICT as a tool for development that expands participation and empowerment. This dissertation focuses on these concerns in the context of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and its rural women beneficiaries in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras.; This dissertation uses an actor-network theory (ANT) approach to explore the cultural politics of cybernetwork construction among various IFAD-related actors across the state, institutional and local scales. An ANT approach highlights the "social relations of technology" that link people, technology, ideas and visions, histories and texts into a networked structure that mediates the distribution of development opportunities and power for IFAD beneficiaries. Qualitative research was conducted in an iterative, multi-staged, multi-sited program that began with an entry point into the campesina's lives through their life histories situated on the Internet; analyzed archival material on IFAD and its relevant projects and programs; and moved on to field work that included participant observation in an IFAD sponsored staff workshop, semi-structured interviews of campesinas and IFAD staff, and a focus group/workshop.; Conclusions of this research suggest that development cybernetwork construction is a site of struggle that reflects social relations of power as they are mediated by various factors including: state and international level support for rural people's participation in development and ICT4D programs and policies; institutional agendas and practices concerning participation, empowerment and gender; advocacy group action; and campesina's experience and ideas about networking and technology. For the achievement of campesinas' own agendas, state and institutional support, as well as experience with networking and traditional communication forms, are more important than their direct access to modern ICTs.
Keywords/Search Tags:ICT, Development, Rural women, IFAD, Histories, Technology
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