Critical research has been advocated as capable to uncover multiple contradictions in ICT-induced development processes. This paper explores the potential of subaltern studies to contribute to the generation of critical theory in ICT4D. Following the postcolonial thought of Partha Chatterjee, the paper proposes a vision of subalternity centred on technologies of rule that concur to devoicing the marginalised. The theory is used to examine the computerisation of a large Indian social protection scheme, illustrating how processes of digitalisation, formally aimed at the empowerment of recipients, actually resulted in the systematic crystallisation of alienating power structures in the programme. This resulted in the further devoicing of the wageseekers that the scheme should have empowered, casting doubt on the image of a pro-poor “digital India” represented in mainstream narratives. Used as analytical framework, subalternity theory makes it possible to represent the views of the devoiced and marginalised, hence contributing to enacting the emancipatory purpose of critical theory in ICT4D.
Masiero, Silvia, "Subaltern studies: Advancing critical theory in ICT4D" (2018). Research Papers. 162.