Research

Themes of technology, well-being, and change among the poor infuse my work. My most recent fieldwork in Kenya looks at how mobile phones are being adopted and used in a village in western Kenya as an example of the social shaping of technology. It turns out that the ubiquitous “mobile phone” is not the same technology in rural Kenya, where electricity and landlines are scarce. Cellphones might help reshape rural livelihoods, and might enhance or constrict capabilities—time will tell and I hope to keep researching trends in a village.

This recent work extends my earlier investigations into the social impacts of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and community-based responses. Other work focused on population and environmental issues, such as tropical deforestation in the Amazon. Thanks to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Newcomb College Institute at Tulane, a Research Enhancement Award (Tulane) for funding aspects of my research; most recently the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Tulane Provost’s Office.

Exploring new research agendas in 2011
Where’s the “Social” in Social Entrepreneurship efforts in Developing Areas? Innovation Solar-Solutions to Phone-Charging, Flip-Flop Recycling and other innovations in Kenya
• Promoting Sustainability in New Orleans: LifeCity Connections and Greener Mardi Gras

The LifeCity’s UnReport on the state of the impact economy in New Orleans: a small grant from Tulane’s Center for Public Service (CPS) will support student involvement in community forum and desk research on sustainability opportunities in the building and food/agriculture sectors in the city. This will lead to an annual “Un/Report”. Working with local social venture LifeCity: mylifecity.com.

Greener Mardi Gras: Working with the LA Bucket Brigade on potential social ventures to green Mardi Gras and fight the global petro-chemical industrial complex.

Previously funded research

Hybrid Technologies: the hoe and the mobile phone in the age of HIV/AIDS
~ Original Proposal for Hybrid Technologies to NSF
~ AIDS and Gardens article in Population and Environment
~ ‘My co-wife can borrow my mobile phone!’: gendered geographies of cellphone usage and significance for rural Kenyans' in Gender, Technology and Development
~ Report to NSF on Hybrid Technologies Project
~ Digital Trends presentation at Tulane (October 16, 2008) (on Youtube)
~ Presentation to the CDC and MOH in Nairobi, Kenya (September 2008)
~ Brown-Bag Seminar in International Health & Development, December 3, 2008
~ Presentation at Global Health Fellows, USAID, October 28, 2009 --plus the
~ Handout on 'mobile phones for health & development' (talk at GHF, USAID)

Papers & Manuscripts (Hybrid Technologies research)
~ “With My Phone, I Can’t Starve to Communicate”: Mobile Phones ... in Bungoma District, Kenya
~ Mobile Phone Adoption and Use in Rural Kenya: Preliminary Findings from a Village Census
~ 13 Ways of Looking at the Mobile Phone... Social Science Insights into the Study of Technology
~ Population, Health and Livelihoods (Working Paper 4)
~ Manuscript to ITID on mobile phone use and users (under review)

Power is Knowledge:
field trials of mobile phone charging products for off-grid locations
~ Power is Knowledge Project Overview
~ Narrative Report of January 2009 trials of phone-charging systems in Kenya
~ Slide show of January 2009 trials
~ Newcomb funded Field Trials of Freeplay
~ Report on field trials for MOEST   
~ Manuscript underway on solar solutions for phone-charging
~ Recent interview on my work by Jessica Ports, PhD student at Tulane: bit.ly/A1EFpo
~ See the Lighting Africa project website: lightingafrica.org

Crops, Cellphones and T-Cells (older research project)
~ Ploughs and HIV/AIDS in South Nyanza
~ Proposal and other documents upon request