Visiting Scholars at UNU-CS in Summer 2016
Dr. P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan of Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and Dr. David Nemer of University of Kentucky are spending the summer 2016 at United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS). Dr. Ilavarasan is Associate Professor at the Department of Management Studies and adjunct faculty at Bharti School of Telecom Technology & Management at IIT Delhi. He teaches and researches about production and consumption of information and communication technologies. Dr. David Nemer is Assistant Professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. His research and teaching interests cover the intersection of ICT for Development (ICT4D), science and technology studies (STS), postcolonial STS, and human-computer interaction (HCI). Methodologically, he uses qualitative methods drawn from ethnography in online and offline contexts. Nemer is the author of Favela Digital: The other side of technology (Editora GSA, 2013). He holds a PhD in Informatics from Indiana University and an MSc in Computer Science from Saarland University.
Dr. Ilavarasan is working with UNU-CS researchers to refine and further analyze of complex quantitative data from an ongoing three year experimental study in India. The project explores the causal linkages between the growth of urban microenterprises in low income countries and three possible interventions – smart phones, micro loans and business training. The study is based in India and supported by the IDRC, Canada. “I am thoroughly enjoying my time at UNU-CS, Macau,” said Dr. Ilavarasan. “With weekly research seminars and impromptu project idea talks, greatly supported with rent free accommodation and hundreds of international cuisine options at Macau, UNU-CS is an ideal place to spend time thinking, writing & experimenting research.”
At UNU-CS Dr. Nemer has been working with the Institute’s researchers on 2 papers: With Dr. Ineke Buskens, they are expanding Nemer’s ICTD paper “LAN Houses are for Boys and Telecenters are for Girls:” CTCs as Gendered Spaces. Nemer and Buskens are analyzing Computer Technology Centers (CTCs) in the Favelas (urban slums) of Brazil with a focus on the gender differences in using CTCs while highlighting the experiences of the local favela women. With Dr. Tony Roberts, he is developing a paper where they analyze two participatory processes, from their past studies, in order to highlight how participatory practices can be translated into community empowerment. Also, Nemer is finishing a paper that focuses on the uses of smartphones in the Favelas. In this paper, he claims that although mobile internet is making great strides, it does not yet substitute for public access; actually, smartphones and computers at CTCs complement each other in providing those who face digital inequalities with a broader sociotechnical experience. To sum up his time at UNU-CS, Nemer says “it has been an ideal place to catch up on my reading list, write papers, and be immersed in a research environment where new ideas bloom all the time.”