My Mobile Phone, My Life: Deconstructing Development (Maendeleo) and Gender Narratives among the Marakwet in Kenya
Leah Jerop Komen
The increased adoption of mobile telephony for development is based on the assumption that mobile telephony has the potential to foster social change. To some, such technology can aid most developing countries to leapfrog stages of development. Yet to others, the technology is at most counterproductive: development has been understood differently by the developed in comparison to the underdeveloped. Missing in this narrative is the people’s own conceptualization of the term development as well as their gender roles, often a component of development programs. This study presents findings on an alternative conceptualization of development, dubbed maendeleo, a Swahili term that denotes process, participation, progress, growth, change, and improved standard of living—as defined by the people or women themselves as they interact with mobile telephony in rural Kenya. Using Manuel DeLanda’s assemblage theory to analyze interviews, this study proposes an alternative conceptualization of development. This different perspective on development denotes both process and emergence, through the processes and roles that mobile telephony plays in the techno-social interactions of users, context, and other factors as they form social assemblages that are fluid in nature, hence challenging the Western proposition that new technologies produce development understood as social transformation.
Assemblages, Development, Gender, Maendeleo, Mobile telephony, M-Pesa
The adoption and use of mobile telephony in most developing countries has been celebrated as causing social transformation and “development”—for instance, changing the way people communicate across distances and their ability to transact business via phones. This perspective connotes a power relationship between those who “bring” and those who “receive” development: the bringers are powerful innovators of technology while the receivers are passive and helpless. This perspective similarly assumes that development is designed, packaged, delivered, and measured by the powerful, for the receivers, and any deviation from such prescription becomes the antithesis. The term development itself is considered controversial. As a concept, development gained academic prominence after World War II when major political and social changes were taking place in the “Third World,” a term considered a polite epithet for “poor countries” (Crush 1995; Escobar 1995; Melkote and Steeves 2015). I will challenge this view of development through analyzing the role of mobile telephony via the concept of development by the Marakwet people and the extent to which gender roles have been entrenched or redefined.
Specifically, this article deconstructs the Swahili word for development, maendeleo, which denotes a “better life,” and what maendeleo means in the context of gendered society in rural Kenya. Mobile phone use in Marakwet is embedded in everyday triumphs and struggles—what Arturo Escobar (2001) has termed as “cultural struggle and self-determination” (162). That is, the construction of such spaces of struggles and triumphs are argued to be sites of negotiation (Dirlik 2007) and not necessarily guaranteed to achieve development. Although the mobile phone has class/consumerist value to people, my study looks at the personal practices and family, marriage relations, and dynamics with mobile phones to discover other kinds of meanings significant to how users view themselves and wish to develop.
First, I will give a brief background of the Marakwet people. Second, I will discuss the two types of development as conventionally understood. Third, I will present the notion of maendeleo as a techno-social assemblage using assemblage theory as theoretical framework. Finally, I employ this method to examine this phenomenon via a case of gendered uses of the mobile phone and discuss my findings.
Background of Marakwet
Mobile phones first made their entry into Kenya in the 1990s, but their adoption has expanded exponentially over the years. Recently, the Communication Authority of Kenya has reported that 38 million Kenyan citizens own a mobile phone. The general benefits of mobile phone usage, such as easy communication, transfers of monies, and convenient bill payments have been experienced across the country. However, in rural areas mobile phones seem to be used for specific concerns—addressing, for example, the lack of proper road infrastructure, the limited communication infrastructure, and the high levels of poverty. The utility of mobile technology is only plausible if it suits people’s needs; for instance, the spotlight function of the mobile phone will make more sense in rural areas, where the distances of household distributions are vast and electricity is not available, than it would in an urban setting served with electricity.
A case in point is the Marakwet people of Kenya, the residents of Elgeyo-Marakwet County (EMC) which covers a total area of 3,029.9 square kilometers. Administratively, the county is divided into four subcounties: Marakwet East, Marakwet West, Keiyo North, and Keiyo South. EMC has a population of 370,712 as per the 2009 census, with an intercensus growth rate of 2.7 percent per annum. The poverty level of the county is at 57 percent compared with the national level of 46 percent, and cattle rustling is a common occurrence in Marakwet. Farming in the county is done by both genders but mainly is performed by women. Cases of female genital mutilation continue to exist, despite a ban by the government.
In EMC, the insecurity of poverty and rural life and glaring power gender disparities have given the mobile phone distinct and new meanings of being “light” and “life” (Komen 2016a, 2016b). Many feel that the mobile phone has brought maendeleo—a conscious revealing of light that dispels darkness (of not being able to know what happens elsewhere) and the ability to communicate across distances. Although gender roles are clearly defined in Marakwet due to its patriarchal social organization, the adoption of the mobile phone has both disrupted and enhanced these gender roles; in other instances, new gender roles have emerged.
Importantly, the notion of maendeleo is not completely new—it has been historically referenced by women’s self-help groups. According to Preston Chitere (1988), such groups existed in Kenya before and after independence when women were trained as leaders and their participation in various emancipatory club activities was supported. Chitere argued that over time the women’s clubs (Maendeleo Ya Wanawake, i.e., the progress of women) became politicized, and the women’s clubs were abused by those in power. The national network, Maendeleo Ya Wanawake (MYWO), for example, was used by colonialists to gather information about the Mau Mau rebellion movement. Rosemary Wanjiku Mbugua (2017) noted that MYWO was used by the Kenya African National Union (KANU) led by then President Daniel Arap Moi to foster KANU’s agenda and mobilize women for political ends. Muthoni Thangwa (2006), while recognizing the existence of MYWO, noted that a male version (for boys and elderly men) was also initiated but did not gain much traction.
These two maendeleos have different advocacy persuasions, yet neither addresses development as experienced by the people. Although this study acknowledges that there is a standard way of viewing development, I challenge this view with a different model, using assemblage and meso approaches to address maendeleo. As such, maendeleo is conceptualized in this study to mean “better life” as initially conceived by the people, and it will be employed to understand the complicated gendered usage of mobile phones in Marakwet.
Development as a Discourse
The dominant meaning of development commonly employed in the north assumes a process of transition or transformation toward a modern capitalist or industrial economy (Ferguson 2009, 15). Development as modernization reflects the perspective of developed economies where information communication technologies (ICTs) such as mobile telephones originated. As a discourse, development brought with it several dichotomies: “developed” versus “developing,” “rich” and “poor,” or even in three system classifications designating first, second, and third world countries. Development as such has been shown to lead to “unequal relations between the rich countries and poor countries or the rich and poor within poor countries” (Sparks 2007, 20). As Martin Lewis and Kären Wigens (1997) have averred, development initiatives originally were motivated to serve the political, economic, and ideological interests of Cold War America and its opponents. The foundation of this argument is found in economic theories arguing that societies must pass through stages of economic growth: traditional society, precondition for takeoff, and drive to maturity and the age of high mass consumption (Melkote and Steeves 2015, 87). The West became a baseline against which “others” were to be judged (Onwumechili 2018, 174). One could either be developed or underdeveloped, and as such the term development became a yardstick for measuring success.
A more specific and concrete manifestation of Western development is in modernist projects, including the introduction of Information Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D). H. Leslie Steeves and Janet Kwami have noted that ICT4D became salient around the turn of the century and greatly increased the possibilities for global information sharing (2017, 4). Claims have been made lauding the transformational developmental impacts of new ICTs like mobile phones. Such claims include economist Jeffrey Sachs’s argument that “mobile phones are the single most transformative technology for development” (Etzo and Collender 2010, 661).
Indeed, a modernist development perspective is evident in targeted projects or programs (Avgerou 2010; Crush 1995; Donner 2004; Molony 2009). For instance, one will commonly find projects targeting sustainable development goals such as poverty alleviation, disease control, or the role of ICTs in bridging the digital divide. A case in point is the 1999 One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project in Ghana, where children were given individual laptops with the assumption that they would “leapfrog” to the digital era and teach their friends and families (Steeves and Kwami 2017). The OLPC project, however, failed due to neglect of key local contexts, including gender relations, which varied across the rural and urban pilot communities. The study found less of a gender divide in the rural schools despite their lack of electricity than in the urban schools that had access to electricity. The modernist equation that access to technology means a reduction in the digital and gender divide was unsupported here.
There are, however, alternatives to modernist development approaches, including the notion of participatory development, which fosters dialogic decision making through consensus within the communities involved. This approach, I contend, is preferable, assuming that knowing people’s own definitions of development helps to localize decisions and contribute to the broader conversations around emancipatory affordances of mobile telephony. This article thus seeks to advance this kind of diachronic development in an attempt to understand the relationship of mobile telephony to the users’ conceptions of gender and gender roles and how these contribute to their understanding of a ‘better life’ in Marakwet, Kenya.
That is, uniquely, my study employs an approach that seeks to understand mobile phone adoption from a local vantage point, with attention to the distinct and varied gendered uses of mobile phones, to in turn conceptualize development from diverse local points of view. In fact, I argue that practices with mobile technology reveal a new understanding of the concept of maendeleo for the Marakwet people, making visible the specific gendered dimensions of use that I analyze to determine how these might reify or produce changes in contemporary gender power dynamics in Marakwet. With those understandings in mind, my study, more broadly, discusses how mobile phone usage in Marakwet contributes to the complex and varied discourse of development and gender narratives in Marakwet. In the final section, I will analyze the extent to which globalizing technologies such as mobile phone transformations might challenge the status quo of dominant development discourses and practices.
Theorizing Maendeleo as a Techno-social Assemblage
This analysis engages assemblage theory because it provides a bottom-up framework for understanding mobility, networking (Packer and Crofts Wiley 2012), and analyzing social complexity (Kivikuru 2018), which we see arising in mobile telephony use in Marakwet. Philosophically, the term originated from the French word agencement, coined by Giles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in their seminal work A Thousand Plateaus (1980). Later, Manuel DeLanda (2006) reintroduced and expanded the concept of assemblages to develop a new ontology of social theory. DeLanda opined that assemblages are a useful way of comprehending the complexity of social arrangements without analyzing components that are reducible to either (1) microlevel explanations, such as individual rational decisions or choices, or (2) macrolevel explanations, such as world historical totalities or categories. Such formations of connections and distributions of focus are crossed through the “body, brain, tool and environment” nexus, each collaborating and at times competing for attention (Kivikuru 2018).
Usefully, assemblage theory introduces a metaphor for understanding the social world, one that speaks of heterogeneity so that a thing is understood as composed of other things. In this case, it provides an apparatus for understanding how local uses of mobile devices impact practices of gender in diverse ways. Some critics, such as John Phillips (2006), have faulted assemblage theory for its indefiniteness and indeterminacy, and its focus on examining contingent parts, while failing to measure possible outcomes. However, DeLanda (2006) demonstrated that one can explain heterogeneity and contingent parts without explaining it away by addressing relations of exteriority—that is, contextual features that make diverse practices possible.
The assemblage approach enables analysis of how mobile devices might sustain traditions, open doors for some, and in other cases break down old culture-based values and practices. Exploring how traditions of culture might inform mobile phone use in Kenya in diverse ways is crucial. Presently, we witness in Kenya a cultural divide whereby a system of traditional values, hierarchies, and inherited cultural practices is challenged by new, individualized, and gendered behaviors with mobile devices. Scholars such as Ullamaija Kivikuru (2018) have suggested that with the adoption of new technologies, personal practices migrate away from community-based engagement and toward social relations resembling assemblage. In this transition, gender and age hierarchies and inequalities are neither supplanted nor faded away, but their profiles may change significantly or in fact be exacerbated. Assemblage enables such analysis.
Scholars have shown that development practices may appear to generate change but often reify existing power differentials. Nanda Shrestha (1995), discussing development in Nepal, distinguished the term Bikas to mean developed and Abikas to mean the underdeveloped, uncivilized, or backward people. In so doing, the people of Nepal have shown that development is not just a concept but a practice that clusters society, thus exacerbating class hierarchies (Shrestha 1995, 268). Such sharp distinctions, using Deleuze’s terms, territorialize and reterritorialize society, the idea of development as is typically deployed, simply, a modernizing force.
Importantly, however, unlike the binaries of Bikas, or Abikas, maendeleo is multifaceted in nature; the term signals the existence of a range of mobile telephony uses (Komen 2014). As I will show, these include the ability to text and call, to support agriculture (e.g., sending texts to an agricultural extension worker to describe the symptoms of pest-infested crops), to purchase materials for small businesses, and to rescue girls from female genital mutilation. This variety demonstrates a range of uses from the practical to those that challenge existing gender and class-based power dynamics. I have explored the richness of these mobile technology practices to better understand the many dimensions that constitute maendeleo in Marakwet.
This study employs the qualitative approaches of interviews and focus group discussions; these were conducted with flexibility, allowing for adjustments by the interviewer and the interviewee (Magwa and Magwa 2015) to permit interviewers to follow the discussant’s line of thinking. A sample of twenty-five ethnographic interviews was identified from ten household members, who were purposively chosen for either owning or having access to a mobile phone. The data from the interviews were additionally triangulated with five focus group discussions among similar demographic groups (including clan elders, women, men, and teenage boys and girls). Informed consent was obtained to capture the data on the research assistants’ phones used to audiorecord the conversation for further analysis.
My research employed thematic data analysis (Braun and Clarke 2006); I identified the meaning of each theme, determined the aspect of data each theme captured, and examined how it related to the research question or objective. The interrelated themes that emerged from the data included mobile phones given as gendered “gifts,” mobiles phones used for microcoordination of activities, and mobile phones involved in shifting gender roles (empowerment/disempowerment). Mobile phones have become interconnected with farming and food security (improved livelihoods) as well.
Theme 1: Gendered Gifts
Marakwet is a patriarchal society, and its gender roles are well defined. Accordingly the first theme I discovered was the suggestion that mobile phones are understood as gendered gifts. For many married women, mobile phones are handed down from their husbands as gifts—though often the phones are worn out and in poor working condition—when the men upgrade to phones with internet. I wanted to understand whether and how mobile phone usage by women and men had affected their gender roles.
Women in particular felt these gifts were not just secondhand phones but also an expression of power. As one woman asked, “So you just feel like, ‘Why can’t our husbands just purchase brand new phones for us?’” Comments from the men such as the following were common as well:
Just buy her the mulika mwizi [a basic phone with a spotlight feature] kind, after all what does she really need the phone for except call and receive M-Pesa [mobile money transfers]? No need for sophisticated phones, those are for us men. (Kipyator, husband and father of five)
Separately, in the female focus group, it was evident that husbands induced fear to deter wives from asking for better phones. Participant Jeruto echoed the voices of others when she said,
These men can do anything like mine [referring to her husband] said, “Smart phones will cause cancer, and my wife, I love you so much, I don’t want you to die.” You wonder why he does not think cancer would kill him too since he has such a phone … It is just controlling us yet pretending to care … We know them.
These observations were affirmed by the majority of those interviewed. For instance, when I followed up on the comment about using fear as a tactic against women, Kiyeng (father of four), referred to his wife’s basic phone with the following: “Yeah, you just scare them with cancer, they’ll stop bothering you asking for smart phones.”
Though the mobile phone has the capacity to break gender gaps, clearly it can equally exacerbate them: mobile phone use may have different configurations, yet the type and condition of the phones still reinforce women as having lesser value than men. This can be likened to an assemblage, in that what is capable of empowering an individual also disempowers, and what territorializes—that is, brings close friends together—may also deterritorialize in cases of disagreement or conflict.
Maendeleo here is not experienced by men and women in the same way. Men/husbands tend to determine what kinds of phones are appropriate for women/wives in their households. As such, development—understood to be determined by men/husbands—entrenches the gender divides and power distinctions within households while it also empowers the ability to include and exclude.
Theme 2: Microcoordination of Household Activities
The interviews and focus group discussions indicated that mobile phones enhanced women’s caring and nurturing roles, including caring for infants, calling to ask someone to feed one’s child, or caring for the aged within the household. The mobile phone therefore has become an extension to women, who are now able to work more by microcoordinating their household via this technology:
I simply call someone and ask them to buy meat for me, and then I refund the money once they deliver the meat. If I am at the marketplace or farm, I will call to ask how my children are doing at home, whether they have eaten or taken a bath, things like that. Jeruto (mother of three)
If I hear my child is sick, I just call my neighbor and pay for a motorbike ride using my M-Pesa, and then I ask them to meet me at the hospital, rather than waste time. (Chebeet, mother of teenage girls)
The ability to microcoordinate was also seen in the male cohort. Siaban (civil servant and polygamist) had this to say:
I have three wives in different places, [and] with a mobile phone I am able to talk to my wives and children without leaving my office in town [in a different city]. I also send the money using M-Pesa to all farm workers. This has made my wives and children happy.
These comments speak to the diverse ways that women and men have found utility as well as expression and agency within their gender roles facilitated via mobile phones. The ability to microcoordinate is a form of maendeleo because, importantly, it is not experienced uniformly. Affect, caring, and nurturing roles facilitated via mobile phones are clearly uses of technology that are gendered female. Notably, men are not positioned as caregivers; though the motorbike rider is normally male, as Chebeet’s comment showed mobile phones are employed by women to co-opt men into the caregiving work of transporting the sick. Mobile phones in this case enhance men’s traditional gender roles as providers of the technology, while reinscribing women’s use of technology in their traditional role as caregivers.
Other practices provide evidence that mobile phones disrupt traditional gender roles. The study found that women in particular have found new ways of expression such as talking to a “neighbor or friend” with whom the woman’s husband has forbidden contact. One woman, Jeni (mother of two teenagers), had this to say:
You see this phone has made me feel alive. I can call even people that my husband would not stand because he would not know; I just call then delete their numbers. Yet again I can take care of my family now because if I lack anything I call my female friend [and] we contribute, and I just don’t bother whether he [husband] provides or not. I have my freedom with this thing [pointing to her mobile].
It appears that mobile phones in Marakwet both entrench existing gender roles but also create opportunities, opening up space for personal freedom of association to call and solicit help without the husband’s approval. This transgresses the societal dictates of informing the man as the provider, regardless of whether he meets the need or not. As we explore these emerging uses of mobile phones, new practices become visible, and in some cases they result in the transgression of traditional gender roles.
Theme 3: Social Networks and Gender
Social networks have cushioned women against the obvious power struggles and gender role demarcations to some degree; however, women are not free from subjugation because husbands are still seen as having the power to exert control over women’s social spheres. Whereas the mobile phone provides the woman with new ways to work around this subjugation, freedom here lies in maintaining the social relations she wishes to have, whether or not her husband approves. Women in these cases are redefining what freedom means. For instance, Kirop (father of four) would rather use 80 KES (Kenyan shillings) for his phone and give his wife 20 KES for food:
You see for a man it is embarrassing to have a phone without talk time; you need to be able to solve problems. That is why buying talk time to me is very important; when you are hungry at home no one will know, but without airtime, everyone will know because you cannot call.
Leisure, how they are perceived by peers, and status are shown to be important for men, whereas meeting basic needs such as providing food to families is critical for women. Maendeleo, in this case, again reflects complicated social power dynamics in Marakwet, which remain highly gendered within mobile phone practices.
Theme 4: Fear of Repercussions of Wrong Use
The fourth theme reveals the fear among women of repercussions for using the phone for allegedly wrong purposes. Referencing a fear of telephone surveillance, Simba (mother of three) commented,
Mmm! Imagine someone can text a hateful message, and the government traces it to you because you are a registered owner. Sometimes you are just in trouble because of someone else.
Additionally, while many women felt that mobile phones had given them freedom away from their prying husbands and the ability to call whomever they chose despite their husbands’ disapproval, they still cited a fear of reprisals. Cherop (mother of one) commented, “Yeah, that is good, but only to the extent that your husband does not find out; otherwise, you are in big trouble such as being beaten up.” This was a sentiment echoed across the women’s cohort.
These statements depict the fear that users hold despite the cited freedom of expression attained through the device. We witness agency on the part of the women that takes the form of freedom of phone use, yet unequivocally it is tempered by fears of reprisal or punishment. Even as we witness the women’s acts that transgress the traditional gender power disparities, they coexist with an ongoing recognition of the husband’s greater power within the marriage.
Mobile phone theorists have tended to focus on these technologies as tools for finance and consumerism; some have argued that these key practices in turn influence and explain new user practices. For example, Radhika Gaijalla and Dinah Tetteh (2014) have argued that the marketing of the money service M-Pesa through various online platforms created a sense of convenience, comfort, peace, and reassurance as well as a feeling of safety. By contrast, I seek to understand the mobile phone as a social technology and to discover the various ways it has impacted gender relations in the distinct space of Marakwet. I analyze mobile practices as a techno-social assemblage, best understood not at the macro- nor microlevel but rather at the mesolevel where interactions happen. Moreover, my analysis sheds light on how individuals' uses of their mobile phones demonstrate an evolving understanding of maendeleo.
As an experience of maendeleo, the users’ comments demonstrate that at times mobile phones maintain gender power disparities and at other times push against them. Women see mobile phones as providing them greater agency and enhanced freedom, even within the boundaries of marriage. By contrast, men view the mobile phone as escalating the pressure to demonstrate their wealth, in certain cases even leading them to compromise the family’s food budget in favor of talking time. I would argue, therefore, that the development made possible by mobile phones is best studied at a mesolevel, addressing personal, family, and social dynamics as well as the values, opportunities, and attending to struggles that arise and how those might maintain cultural practices or instigate change.
Similarly, the gendered usage of mobile phones in Marakwet is also experienced in myriad ways. On the one hand, it can be argued that the mobile phone extends gendered roles, positioning males as providers and women as nurturers; yet in other circumstances, the device has empowered women to create a space of expression in the decisions they make without consulting their husbands. The women’s use of mobile phones secreted from their prying husbands was deemed emancipatory in itself. However, in certain accounts, the married women noted that this liberty was only achieved to the extent they were not found out by their husbands. Hence, they have gained limited freedom from the phones.
As argued by DeLanda (2006), assemblage is fluid and temporary, depending on the influence of external and internal factors. As such, we can imagine the mobile phone as creating a territory around its users, affected by gender and by cultural practices and ideas. The phone is seen as liberating and yet marginalizing, because it can reinforce entrenched gender roles in other ways. As I have shown, mobile telephony practices by both genders are complex, generating conflicting values and priorities within individuals, families, marriages, and social practices that evolve over time. Development then is not an end or simply the achievement of modernization, but rather a complex practice. This reality negates the validity of deploying the term as an end to be achieved or according to classifications of countries as developed or underdeveloped.
By focusing on how people use technologies to identify, prioritize, and implement their needs and values, my study has demonstrated an understanding of development as a participatory practice. We witness here significant gendered restraints that arise in identifying, prioritizing, and implementing needs, to degrees that vary based on personal gendered expectations and/or restrictions. Both men and women have found ways to extend their gendered role practices and spaces, albeit with some challenges, that are unrecognized within a Western view of development. This study has shown that mobile phone practices are a conduit through which men and women can reflect on and even act upon their values and needs in ways that sometimes reify—but in some cases transgress—existing gender power roles. This double-edged tendency can help us in thinking about gender power within cultural contexts, with careful attention to local practices, traditions, and dynamics.
This study’s findings show maendeleo is a kind of development that denotes process, progress, dynamic changes, and participation by all as they experience the techno-social abilities afforded by mobile telephony. For the residents of Marakwet, having access to and using mobile phones is viewed as a sign of development; however, maendeleo encompasses more: the extent to which development meets individual and collective needs. This has come not through self-help groups, as was the case with the beginnings of maendeleo, but at individual and local levels. Mobile phone technology engenders a new and significant dimension of maendeleo through the gendered implications of its use and possibilities. Maendeleo is thus not necessarily a move to modernity but rather toward an improved standard of living and new ways of doing things for users. This was shown by the study specifically in women’s increase in and men’s maintenance of personal power and agency in marriage and as community members (Komen 2016a, 2016b).
Mobile telephony enables women to exert more control over resources as they share mobile phones and receive cash to use in the household, sometimes away from the prying eyes of their husbands. However, expansion of ICTs such as mobile telephony, as my study shows, can also produce negative outcomes, such as intrahousehold conflicts produced by fostering new opportunities for male control over resources and directing household resources away from food and other essentials (Torero and Von Braun 2006). By studying development from the context of the people and in local environments via the lens of assemblage, my study allows us to see and take into account all the heterogeneous components and the narrative around development, away from narrowing frames that dichotomize micro- and macrorealities.
Finally, this study only focused on the deconstruction of development/maendeleo and gender narratives in a rural community in Kenya. Future studies should focus on diverse rural and urban communities. Mobile telephony is more than a communication device—it is a store, a form of security, a symbol of power, a source of light, and a generator of social status. Mobile phones emancipate and disempower, depending on the context of their use. Future research should examine these other complex considerations in different and broader contexts in order to better understand the local readings of ICT devices that might (or might not) bring development.
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Leah Jerop Komen
Leah Jerop Komen, PhD, is currently a senior lecturer and the Deputy Director of Research at Daystar University in Kenya. She has a master’s degree in development communication from Daystar University, and a doctorate in new media and development from the University of East London. Her research interests include the domestication of communication technologies in sub-Saharan Africa and how human–technology and context interrelationships form part of social assemblages that intersect with development.