All posts by Marta Koch (Admin)

Administrative Officer, School of Global Affairs, King’s College London. LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/martakoch Twitter: https://twitter.com/MartaKch

Digital | Visual | Cultural 2 – ‘Digital Visual/Publics’ Public Lecture @dvcultural #dvcultural

Project Principal Investigator Dr. Ayona Datta and Co-Investigator Dr. Padmini Ray Murray were invited to give talks at the Digital/Visual Publics ‘Visualising Digital Heritage, Futures, and Other Temporalities’ public lecture organised by Digital | Visual | Cultural which took place on January 7th and 8th 2019 at St. John’s College Auditorium, University of Oxford, UK.

Project Principal Investigator Dr. Ayona Datta was invited to give the keynote on ‘The ‘Smart Safe City’: Speed, Time and Violence in the Margins of India’s Urban Age’ and Co-Investigator Dr. Padmini Ray Murray was invited to speak on ‘Urban Temporalities and the Museum of London at Smithfield’ at the Digital/Visual Publics public lecture entitled ‘Visualising Digital Heritage, Futures, and Other Temporalities’ organised by Digital | Visual | Cultural and curated by #DIVAWProject Advisory Board member Professor Gillian Rose, Professor of Human Geography at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, on January 8th 2019 at St. John’s College Auditorium, University of Oxford, UK.

You can view the programme for the event and find out more about all of the speakers and presentations here.

dqcrxy7wsae90mg
Image Credit: Digital|Visual|Cultural

Explore the event Tweets below:

‘Khadar ki Ladkiyan’ – An Exploration of Music as a Medium of Expression

Sunayana Wadhawan, Sound Artist and Music Director

It all began with the young women of Madanpur Khadar, when they voiced their idea for expressing their thoughts and experiences in the city through a song. Inspired by the youth and emerging alternative media around them, the young women began envisioning themselves as being heard and becoming visible in the fast internet world.

Music is a powerful instrument to connect with people, their personal experiences and their struggles. It is present in the personal as well as public spheres of our lives, and has the potential to overcome social and physical boundaries within and across communities. This was their first time trying their hand at an experiment with evolving genres of music like hip-hop and slam poetry, and we collectively turned it into an opportunity to find our voices, our rhythms, our styles, and think more deeply about our reasons for engaging with music.

IMG_20181120_203732
Image Credit: Sunayana Wadhawan
All the women involved in this song, including me, are women who are working and/or performing domestic work at their homes. We met every Sunday for a few hours as that was the only day we didn’t have to go to work outside. The sessions were based on the following themes that were covered over a period of 10 days in total.
 
  • Introductions and discovering rhythms: To work together, it was important to first get to know each other and share our personal stories and struggles, issues that affected us the most, our aspirations and our love for music. We respected the stories each one of us shared with the group, these stories accompanied by tears, laughter and much more. We also searched our memories for issues and incidents that affected women in cities to bring alive narratives and people’s stories previously missing in our conversations. While we acknowledged that our bodies were a site of violence in the city, we also discussed notions around desires for freedom linked to our bodies. This also led us to explore how and why we enjoyed dancing to songs from different regions and understanding how rhythms flow through our bodies and can give a sense of freedom of movement.

Apart from clapping and dancing, one of the exercises I conducted was an attempt to find a shared rhythm using a timing that we are all familiar with – the sounds made when we wash clothes. It was an extraordinary moment as all the women had different styles of washing clothes and each one of them was well versed with the actions and sounds involved in washing clothes – a domestic chore often delegated to women in the house. We all settled on one of the easier-sounding styles that helped us make the sounds collectively in rhythm and in unison.

  • History of hip-hop and finding your own genre: From discussing the history of hip-hop as a medium of protest and expression, to observing how hip-hop has been embraced in India over the last few years, we watched videos and grooved to different songs to become more familiar with the sound and delivery of messages through spoken word/hip-hop music. We also watched videos of emerging female hip-hop artists in India like MC Kaur, Dee MC as well as songs like ‘O Womaniya’ that revive local dialects, music instruments and traditions with the help of technology. We did a few exercises to come up with rhymes in Hindi and English, inventing words to find a way to express ourselves and help us warm up to writing our song.
  • Lyric writing: Taking from the conversations we had during our introductions, each of the women penned down their own story as well as the stories of others they had learnt about from the news or even their neighbourhood, in the form of prose, poetry and couplets. The challenge here was to let different stories emerge and express them in the least amount of words possible. We worked on the stories and rephrased them, added rhymes to them, and began reciting them to each other. We then stood in circles and recited different verses alongside some hip-hop tracks I had prepared for our sessions. This process also helped us edit and put the verses in an order that allowed the stories to become more connected and cohesive as one collective narrative, while at the same time retaining everyone’s individual voices and words.
  • Recording, tracking and mixing: Initially, we had planned to hire a studio and gain experience of working in a studio environment, surrounded with all its technologies, as budding artists. However, constraints on time, and being unable to get all the women to a studio for several hours on the same day, limited our options. We decided to take inspiration from our situation, absorbing it into the process of creating this song, and borrowed a good quality sound recorder to record each of the women singing/reciting different parts of the song. Their voices echoed through the lanes of the neighbourhood when they were practicing and collectively recording parts of the chorus and other lines. It was challenging to balance the sounds of a busy neighbourhood and the sometimes timid voices of women who were finding their inner strength to do justice to the emotions they tried to express in the song. Yet, we managed to find spaces in their homes, and Jagori’s local office, to record to our best abilities as the women juggled between their responsibilities and their excitement for recording their very first song.

Once the recordings were done, we heard them out and selected those that were well-recited and fit well with the tempo of the base track. After organising each of the voice clips of the track on software with the help of sound professionals, we worked with, and gave inputs to, the sound professionals to ensure the tracks were mixed in a way that separated each of the voices without making them sound disconnected.

Then came the most exciting moment for all of us – to hear the final track together. It was a Sunday again, and most of the women who took part were present during our first collective listening session. The happiness in the room was evident from the smiles on everyone’s faces at hearing their own voices in the final version of the track. Some of the women were so overwhelmed at their achievement that they had tears rolling down their cheeks.

 

It has been a wonderful and enlivening experience to be a part of this journey to find our voices, imbibe the joy and power possessed by music, and witness a growing sense of pride and confidence in the women as they expressed hope to continue making more songs and spread powerful messages in their city.


Read the other blogs on our new #GSCProject initiative:

‘Filming ‘Khadar ki Ladkiyan’ [Khadar Girls]’ by Nandan Latwal, our Film Director and Creative producer, here

‘The City is For You and Me’ with the music video by Dr. Ayona Datta, Project Principal Investigator, here.

📸 #AanaJaana [#ComingGoing] Twitter Selfie Photography Competition

The #GSCProject #AanaJaana [#ComingGoing] International Twitter Selfie Photography Competition is now open for entries!

About the Competition

The ‘Gendering the Smart City’ project research network team, in partnership with our societal partner Safetipin, institutional partner King’s College London, the One Billion Rising campaign movement and project funder, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), is organising an exhibition which will take place at the Mandi House metro station, New Delhi entitled ‘Art in Public Places – #AanaJaana: Curating Women’s Digital Stories of the City’ from 1st to 31st January 2019.

You can find out more about our upcoming research network exhibition and events, our aims and ongoing projects by exploring our interactive Story Map here and the exhibition information page here.

DvqGZHoW0AI9Kt_

How to Enter

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, in the weeks leading up to the exhibition and during the exhibition month, members of the public are invited to enter our #AanaJaana [#ComingGoing] international photo competition by taking a selfie while travelling or using public transport, posting it on Twitter and tagging our competition hashtags #AanaJaana and #GSCProject.

The Prize

Each photo entry will be judged by our international research team based on its relevance to our project themes – women in the city, urban futures, urban mobility, smart cities, inclusive cities and right to the city, everyday cities and safe cities.

The winning entry and entrant will be featured on the ‘Gendering the Smart City’ project and King’s College London Urban Futures research domain websites and social media accounts. The winner will also receive an exclusive King’s College London branded notebook and pen.

Competition Rules

Each entrant can submit one selfie for the competition (using one Twitter account). This competition is open to all world-wide.

The competition will close for entries at 12 noon (India Standard Time) on 31st January 2019.

The winning entry will be announced via our project Twitter on 1st February 2019 after our ‘Gendering the Smart City’ research network project ‘Art in Public Places – #AanaJaana: Curating Women’s Digital Stories of the City’ exhibition at the Mandi House metro station, New Delhi has closed and the winner will be contacted via the Twitter account they used to post the selfie.

Contact 

If you have any queries regarding the competition, please contact our project Administrative Officer at marta.koch@kcl.ac.uk.

Please share this competition with anyone you think may be interested.

We look forward to seeing your entries!

#MeToo has arrived in India, and it’s changing how technology is used to fight injustice

File 20181026 7053 1i71nq5.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Shutterstock.

Ayona Datta, King’s College London; Nabeela Ahmed, King’s College London, and Rakhi Tripathi, FORE School of Management

https://metoorising.withgoogle.com/embed

Spin the globe to India and you’ll see it’s lit up like Diwali: the #MeToo movement is rising, and – like its US predecessor – is largely being played out on social media, with very real consequences for well-known public figures. The campaign is not confined to large cities; among the top areas searching the term are small towns across India.

This moment has been a long time coming. The public accounts of violence shared by women using the #MeToo hashtag stretch back to memories of growing up, entering the workforce, walking on the streets, using public transport and other settings typically encountered throughout the course of life.

Recently, the Indian state attempted to use smart technologies to deliver safe cities for women. The strategies used to address both online and offline violence include installing surveillance systems such as CCTV cameras, facial recognition, license plate recognition and social media monitoring. What makes these strategies “smart” is that they are integrated into centralised police command and control centres, to monitor and increase response rates.

Yet one of the flagship smart safety apps, Himmat – launched by the Delhi police in 2013 to enable women to alert police control centres of the location of violent incidents in real-time – had only 30,000 users in a city of 19m, and was declared a failure by a parliamentary panel in 2018.

A right to technology

Clearly, technology has divergent outcomes: it can escalate a global movement for gender justice, but it cannot be taken as a panacea for deep-rooted social problems such as violence against women. This raises further questions about who has access to technology, and how it can be used to document violence.

In India, these questions are significant because 26% of the population has access to the internet, compared to the US and the UK where it is 88% and 90% respectively. The demographic of people who use the internet is also skewed in terms of age, gender and geography: 75% of mobile internet users in India are aged 20 to 30, while only 5% are over the age of 35. What’s more, 89% of mobile internet users are male, and only 27% live in smaller cities.

Mobile internet users: mostly male.Lidear21/Shutterstock.

A recent study highlighted that although more people of different ages and incomes are starting to use mobile phones across India, there are still barriers to access: currently, only 45% of people in lower income groups have a mobile phone.

Working women often use mobile phones which belong to male household members, and can be used to monitor their movements. The lower purchasing power of these families means that they mainly have access to older models bought secondhand, with little capacity to download data-intensive apps and other web content.

When they do use the internet, working class women often do so for practical purposes – searching for employment, transport options, childcare and so on. Mobile phones themselves can even be seen as harmful mediums of violence against women, by means of abusive texts or cyberstalking – as #MeToo has shown.

Speak, witness, curate

We three academics are part of a larger group of researchers and social organisations, who have been examining the links between access to digital technology, urban infrastructure and violence against women in India, as well as considering how women themselves speak about and document these connected issues.

Based on our research, we see the right to technology as a key means of fighting gender injustice, in all its forms, in the 21st century. A right to technology means developing women’s capacity to speak about violence. More than simply giving women the freedom to speak via mobile phones, a right to technology would expand their use safety apps and global hashtags to include text messages, pictures and videos shared between private support groups.

A woman captures an image of a space where she feels unsafe, using a mobile phone.Project participant/Gendering the Smart City, Author provided

It also means developing the potential of low-cost, lightweight mobile technologies to enable women to speak of violence, giving them the confidence to locate their violence – in the home, street, buses, workplace – and name its perpetrators, whether that’s family members, colleagues, friends. The purpose of this speech? To be believed, to not be shamed, to remove their perpetrator or to claim justice through the courts.

A right to technology is also about developing a society’s capacity to witness violence through technology. This means expanding how violence is seen and heard, from the #MeToo hashtags to the range of social, legal, policy and infrastructural blindspots which enable violence to continue on an everyday basis and be perceived as normal.


Read more:

India: why collecting water turns millions of women into second-class citizens

 


Woman captures the intimidating and time-consuming experience of taking public transport, using a mobile phone.Project participant/Gendering the Smart City, Author provided

It means seeing violence in the absence of safe spaces, lack of access to safe and reliable public transport, safe drinking water or public toilets. It means perceiving violence in stories of everyday struggles with mobility, unemployment and education. It means witnessing violence in women’s inability to speak without a #MeToo movement, or even despite a #MeToo movement.


Read more:

Indian women confined to the home, in cities designed for men

 


A right to technology also means building women’s capacity to curate violence through a variety of media. This means women can actively select and present a variety of personal stories of violence in their daily lives – monsoon rain floods, waiting for public transport, moments of panic in buses filled with men and restrictions on mobility.

A woman’s mental map, marked with the points on her route where she felt unsafe or was harassed.Project participant/Disconnected Infrastructures and Violence Against Women, Author provided

The maps and pictures shared by women living in the urban margins show the mundane ways in which violence against women and other forms of injustice are interwoven in their everyday lives. This bottom-up viewpoint disrupts the Google worldview of #MeToo trends, seen from a global perspective, and allows women who are too often overlooked and excluded from urban technology to curate their experiences of violence, within or without the #MeToo movement.The Conversation

Ayona Datta, Reader in Urban Futures, King’s College London; Nabeela Ahmed, Postdoctoral Research Associate, King’s College London, and Rakhi Tripathi, Associate Professor in Information Technology, FORE School of Management

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Call for Papers: American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting ‘Gendering the Smart City: Towards Just & Feminist Urban Futures’ #aagDC

Urban Futures Research Domain

We welcome submissions for the 2019 American Association of Geographers meeting in Washington, DC April 3-7. This large interdisciplinary conference regularly attracts 6-8,000 attendees across a broad spectrum of disciplinary homes.

Gendering the Smart City: Towards just and feminist urban futures

Organisers: Ryan Burns, Ayona Datta, Nabeela Ahmed, Max Andrucki

The critical smart cities research agenda continues to develop insights into evolving relations between the digital, the urban, and socio-political process. Attention has broadened from taxonomies and ontological questions, to ideal-types and dominant epistemologies, to interrogating the “actually-existing smart city”. This trajectory has brought to the fore variegations and fissures in the politics of the smart city within which elements of social justice can appear, where smart city visions can adapt to and address low-tech infrastructures and where populations can contest the smart city’s often business-friendly, empiricist, governmentalizing, and neoliberal tendencies. Researchers have, indeed, recently illuminated smart city models that…

View original post 328 more words