An examination of the design, implementation and impact of ICTs developed in the Asian region for queer youth and HIV advocates
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Increasingly information and communication technologies (ICTs) are being used in community development settings in the global south to enhance human wellbeing outcomes. In this thesis I examine the construction, implementation and impact of three transnational ICTs targeting queer youth, and those working in/around and/or affected by HIV, developed by a community development organisation in Asia. This multi-site mixed methods study follows these three resources from development through to implementation and impact, as they move through on/offline spaces. In examining the design and construction, as well as implementation and impact of these ICT resources I use Sen’s (1999) Capability Approach. I also draw on Bourdieu’s concepts of capital and habitus, as well as recent work on affect and new technologies (Ash, 2014). My findings indicate the importance of symbolic affective markers (Ahmed, 2004) that are incorporated into the design of objects to orientate bodies towards them. These symbolic representations and markers seek to cumulatively engineer particular affects into digitally intimate objects, which work to orientate users towards the objects for the capabilities they can (potentially) enhance. In this way design considerations take into account the contextual capability deficits and structural inequalities (potential) users are likely to experience, and in so doing, use affect as a tool to respond to these concerns. As the affective intensities of these markers come into contact with (potential) users they leave imprints, or ‘affective afterlives’ (Ash, 2014). In doing so, both the producers and consumers come into contact extending the objects’ reach across multiple networks in both private and public spaces. My findings indicate that this creates new forms of support and engagement for some, and results in on/offline encounters of personal sharing as well as debate and discussion about queer lives and discourses around HIV. This extends their existing capital and capabilities, and contributes to a broader life politics that is contextualised within local geographic space. For others, they orientate away from the artefacts when they do not have the capabilities to include them in their practices, or where the resources do not meet their capability needs. I conclude by considering the implications for a capability-focused design approach to technological artefacts and argue for the importance of considering both affect and the (potential) users’ existing capabilities in thinking through the possibilities of ICTs in development projects.
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