Book Talk with Prof. Janaki Srinivasan

Monday, September 26th, 2022

3:31 am - 3:31 am,

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Please join us for a book talk by Professor Janaki Srinivasan on Thursday Oct 13th at 5pm for new her book titled:

The Political Lives of Information: Information and the Production of Development in India

Information has fundamentally reshaped development discourse and practice. In this study, Janaki Srinivasan examines the history of the idea of “information” and its political implications for poverty alleviation. She presents three cases in India—the circulation of price information in a fish market in Kerala, government information in information kiosks operated by a nonprofit in Puducherry, and a political campaign demanding a right to information in Rajasthan—to explore three cases of information to support goals of social change. Countering claims that information is naturally and universally empowering, Srinivasan shows how the definition, production, and leveraging of information are shaped by caste, class, and gender.

Srinivasan draws on archival and ethnographic research to challenge the idea of information as objective and factual. Using the concept of an “information order,” she examines how the meaning and value of information reflect the social relations in which it is embedded. She asks why casting information as a tool of development and solution to poverty appeals to actors across the political spectrum. She also shows how the power to label some things information and others not is at least as significant as the capacity to subsequently produce, access, and leverage information. The more faith we place in what information can do, she cautions, the less attention we pay to its political lives and to the role of specific social structures, individual agency, and material form in the defining, production, and use of that information.

Janaki Srinivasan is Associate Professor, International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB), and the convenor of the Institute’s Centre for Information Technology and Public Policy (CITAPP). Her research examines the politics of information technology-based development. Her work has shown how gender, class and caste shape Indian digital inclusion initiatives focussed on community computer centres, mobile phones, identity systems and open information systems. Currently, she is exploring privacy, algorithmic control and fairness in platform work. Janaki earned her PhD in Information Management and Systems from the University of California Berkeley. The Political Lives of Information is her first book.

Exact location to be announced closer to the date. Please contact arnic@usc.edu for any questions or to be on the mailing list!