Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Bibliotheks- und Informations­wissen­schaft

Agenda - Charting the Future of Forced Migration Research in Information Science

The workshop will take place in room 0101. For more information on the iConference, please refer to the iConference website.


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Welcome; A brief recap of the literature on forced migration in information research (Dr. Nadia Caidi, University of Toronto)




Panel I: The state of the research in forced migration and information from a global perspective

Moderator: Dr. Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed (University of Toronto)

Panelists: Dr. Juliane Stiller (Berlin School of Library and Information Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Jenny Kim (Capital Area Immigrants'​ Rights (CAIR) Coalition), Dr. Faheem Hussain (Arizona State University), Dr. Bryan Semaan (Syracuse University)


Further information


Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at University of Toronto. He conducts research in the intersection between Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Information and Communication Technology and Development (ICTD). He received his PhD from Cornell University in 2017. He established the first HCI research lab in Bangladesh in 2009. He also launched the first open-source digital map-making initiative in Bangladesh in 2010. He received International Fulbright Science and Technology Fellowship in 2011, Intel Science and Technology Center for Social Computing graduate fellowship in 2015. and Connaught Early Researcher Award in 2018.


German immigration policy and the summer of 2015

(Juliane Stiller, School of Library and Information Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Abstract: Merkel's statement in Summer 2015 "Wir schaffen das." ("We can do this.") was initially fuelling the German "Willkommenskultur" (welcome culture) before becoming a slogan often used by opponents of immigration and German immigration policy. In this talk, I am going to reflect on the current refugee situation in Germany. I will discuss the policy changes that have been introduced since 2015 when almost one million refugees sought asylum in Germany and the changing public perspective on migration and integration. I will also talk about my own volunteering experience in teaching German to refugees and assisting them in the asylum process, finding jobs and building a life in Germany.

Juliane Stiller is a researcher at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. She studied library science at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and history of science and technology at Technical University in Berlin. In 2014, she obtained a doctoral degree in information science evaluating interactions in cultural heritage digital libraries. She worked in several national and European projects in relation to digital cultural heritage. Currently, she works in a project to evaluate translation algorithms for metadata for scientific literature in the domain of psychology and she studies the information seeking behaviour of refugees in Germany during job orientation. Together with her colleague Violeta Trkulja, she received the OCLC Research Grant 2018. Her research centres around evaluation of information systems, multilingual information retrieval, metadata quality as well as information-seeking behaviour and digital skills of refugees. She is a member of "the German Network of Refugee Researchers". Prior to her research at the university, she worked several years at Google in Dublin, Ireland, as a search quality analyst.


Prolonged detention, habeas and public engagement of immigration detention

(Jenny Kim, Capital Area Immigrants'​ Rights (CAIR) Coalition)

Abstract: Blanket detention of immigrants placed into removal proceedings is becoming an integral part of immigration enforcement here in the United States. Due to the current administration’s shift in priorities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is placing more and more individuals in removal proceedings and making detention a regular mechanism by which to deter new immigrants from entering and to encourage immigrants in the country to give up on their cases and depart. I will present on the statutory and regulatory schemes of immigration detention in the United States, their relation to removal proceedings, the avenues through which a detainee may attempt to secure release, and the challenges in bringing both individual and class actions on behalf of detainees. I will invite for discussion possible information research solutions to the problems impeding immigrants, their legal service providers, and the immigration courts from effectively playing their roles in preventing prolonged and unlawful detention.

Jenny Kim is a Staff Attorney with Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition’s Immigration Impact Lab. She brings impact litigation cases on behalf of detained immigrants in federal court and trains attorneys on the immigration consequences of criminal dispositions. Jenny previously worked with the Citizenship Project at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles, Church World Service, and the Office of the Kings County District Attorney. Jenny also provided legal services and conducted policy research through the University of Michigan Law School’s Human Trafficking Clinic, Asylum Access Ecuador, and the Lutheran Social Services of New York.


Dr. Faheem Hussain is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS) at Arizona State University (ASU). Before joining ASU, he worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Technology and Society at State University of New York (SUNY), Korea. Faheem holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. degree in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests include: Development for Displaced Population, ICT for Sustainable Development, Digital Afterlife, Digital Rights, and Women Empowerment using STEM. Faheem Hussain has also been involved as a Technology Policy Expert in different research projects with a number of United Nations organizations (e.g., UN-APCICT, UNDP), international development agencies (e.g., IDRC, DFID, Ford and Rockefeller Foundation), and international think tanks (e.g., Freedom House, LIRNEasia, Ideacorps) in the fields of Technology, Public Policy, and Development. For the last 1.5 years, Faheem is working on issues related to access to information and communication, and fake news network among the displaced Rohingya population from Myanmar.


Dr. Bryan Semaan is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, where he serves as a co-director of the Behavior-Information-Technology-Society (BITS) Lab. He is interested in the general areas of computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), human-computer interaction (HCI), and social computing. Bryan's research lies broadly at the intersection of the computer sciences and the social sciences. On a broad level, his scholarship investigates Technology for the social good. Specifically, his research agenda is centered around examining the role of ICTs in enabling resilience amongst people immersed in challenging contexts, especially those faced by vulnerable, marginalized, and underserved populations (e.g., refugees and veterans seeking mental health care). His research program has explored the phenomenon of resilience in the following challenging contexts: crisis situations, political situations, and bottom-up design practice by members of marginalized populations. To accomplish this goal his research integrates qualitative, quantitative and computational analysis to understand the activities of populations immersed in these challenging contexts, and he employs participatory design and design science approaches to further uncover complex social processes and effects, and to identify and pursue impactful design opportunities that empower and/or improve the lives of citizens. Before coming to Syracuse, Bryan was a Postdoc in the Department of Information and Computer Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He obtained his Ph.D from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). He also graduated with a B.S. in Information and Computer Science from UCI in 2005.





Break and networking




Lightning talks I: Information spaces

Moderator: Dr. Nadia Caidi (University of Toronto)

1. Dr. Ricardo Gomez (University of Wahington Information School): "Libraries as information spaces for refugees: Participatory games and creative activities"

2. Mrs. Cansu E. Dedeoglu (University of Toronto): "Negotiating distances and boundaries: The use of ICTs in settlement service provision to newcomers in Canada"

3. Ms. Angela Mariana Schöpke (University of Michigan, School of Information): "Becoming a refugee: understanding how we use information resources and networks to navigate changing identity"


Further information


Nadia Caidi is Associate Professor at theUniversity of Toronto's Faculty of Information. Her work is situated in the context of global migration and the role that information resources, institutions, and technologies play in the everyday lives of diasporic communities as well as the host country. She is interested in how migrants and displaced people negotiate the multiple and overlapping local and transnational information environments they navigate, and how these processes come to embody new kinds of knowledge. She has published extensively on these topics in top refereed journals. Professor Caidi was President of the Canadian Association for Information Science from 2010-11 and the 2016 President of the International Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T).  


Libraries as information spaces for refugees: Participatory games and creative activities

(Ricardo Gomez, University of Washington Information School)

Abstract: We discuss our work with participatory photography, games, and other creative activities to help build empathy and understanding toward issues surrounding migration, and how these types of activities can be used in public libraries to promote safe and engaging information spaces for refugees. Participatory activities such as these provide a supportive and unique approach of building spaces that allow participants to discuss and engage with issues on a personal level. We have explored the use of participatory photography with undocumented migrants before, during and after the process of migration; participatory photography encouraged migrants to speak about their lived experience through the use of images and storytelling. Similarly, we explored the use of creative games and design activities in classrooms, which fostered learning and understanding about migration among graduate and undergraduate students. We are currently exploring a combination of these approaches – participatory photography, creative games and design activities – as tools to foster safe spaces for engagement and interaction of migrants and refugees in public libraries in Seattle, WA.

Ricardo Gomez is associate professor at UW Information School. He specializes on uses and impacts of information and communication technologies in international and community development contexts, and on migration, human rights and social justice. He is interested in social dimensions of the use (or non-use) of communication technologies, and how they contribute to well-being.


Negotiating distances and boundaries: The use of ICTs in settlement service provision to newcomers in Canada

(Cansu E. Dedeoglu, University of Toronto)

Abstract: The extant literature suggests that the service sector presents a compelling case for examining the intersection of technology adoption, legal frameworks, and economic imperatives. The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the human service sector has changed the way services are delivered and utilized in social services and related fields. Among them, the field of settlement service in Canada holds an interesting position regarding the unique needs and situations of its clients, namely refugees and immigrants. In Information Studies, the area of forced migration research (and migrant information behaviour more generally) has produced a significant body of literature about the information needs and practices of refugees and immigrants during the pre-migration and settlement phases (Quirke, 2015; Lingel, 2015; Fisher et al., 2014; Srinivasan & Pyati, 2007). Researchers outlined the role of ICTs in access to services and in creating support networks. Besides informal networks of friends, family, and community members, refugees also seem to value social connections with formal networks such as service providers (Caidi et al., 2010; Francis and Yan, 2016). Despite the vital importance of settlement workers to the (varied) communities they serve, little attention has been paid to understanding the information practices of settlement workers and professionals. In practice, accounts suggest several challenges and opportunities for using ICTs in the provision of service varying across housing, education, employment (Felton, 2015). On the one hand, programs such as cyber counselling may offer opportunities for extending support into the daily lives of refugees living in remote areas. Social networking tools also enable settlement workers to hear directly from their clients and adjust their services to the relevant needs. In this sense, the settlement service space is likely to be extended by the use of ICTs. On the other hand, however, there are increasing concerns regarding access to information, confidentiality, and disclosure that makes it hard for settlement workers to accomplish their work efficiently and safely. Studies highlighting potential areas of tension between settlement workers and clients, as it relates to the ethical, legal, and regulatory standards of service provision remain scarce. Drawing on previous work, the current research seeks to understand the information practices of settlement workers, as crucial stakeholders in the settlement and social inclusion of newcomers. The study is a case study of a service organization located in Toronto, Ontario. The research design and methodological considerations will be presented, along with preliminary hypotheses. Such a study aims at supplementing the current state of research in Information Studies on forced migration, and will shed light on a profession that has been under-examined in our field.

Cansu E. Dedeoglu is a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information. Her research interests include the social implications of ICTs, community informatics, and health (in)equity in migration settings. Prior to graduate school, she worked in the healthcare sector in Turkey. Cansu holds an M.A. in Media and Communication Studies from Galatarasay University and a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Bogazici University.


Becoming a refugee: Understanding how we use information resources and networks to navigate changing identity

(Angela Mariana Schöpke, University of Michigan, School of Information)

Abstract: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2018 suggests that there are 25.4 million refugees worldwide (1.4 million refugees in Germany 60,000 in Greece). But what exactly does the ‘refugee’ mean? News media, state actors, and other bodies speak about refugees in ways that emphasize certain aspects of their experiences. What we do not often understand, is how those identified as refugees speak about themselves. One way we can begin to understand the complexity of identity in this context, is through the ways that individuals self-identifying as refugees use information resources and networks to navigate a sense of self in a legal status-less state. In a partial attempt to explore these questions of information and identity, this talk will summarize some key findings from my master’s thesis work conducted in Athens, Greece and Hamburg, Germany with the support of Dr. Andrea Thomer and Dr. Paul Conway. By adapting Srinivasan et al.’s Diasporic Information Environment Model (DIEM) to frame complex information environment questions in migration-related contexts, I describe how each of reflexive ethnography, social network analysis, and community-based action & information services research can help us understand (1) which information resources individuals use to navigate identity and how, (2) the challenges individuals face in so doing, and (3) why the answers to these questions matter.

During the audience engagement session, we will work to collectively imagine an approach to overcoming information-related challenges outlined in the talk. We will do so in the context of those information resources and constraints presented. The purpose of this exercise will be to (1) motivate creative problem solving from an empathetic perspective, (2) engage with and deepen our understanding of the human impacts (both challenges and opportunities) of the information environment that some individuals identifying as refugees experience, and (3) inspire thinking about what the role of the informationist might be in relation to an evolving and complex sociopolitical question.

Angela Mariana Schöpke is a researcher, choreographer, curator and educator. Angela's work draws inspiration from deep investigations of history, civic engagement, policy perspectives and emotional narrative, and is committed to making spaces for dialogue about cultural identity questions and contemporary political participation. In 2016, Angela founded and now directs the project Dance Afghanistan ( She is also working with the University of Michigan's Collective Action and Social Media Lab as a Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning Research Assistant to support research about social, political and cultural information networks. With experiences in U.S. Congress, public affairs, and political analytics as well as in choreography, dance, and community building, Angela works to craft spaces where we can explore the tensions between humans and systems of power. She is currently finishing her master's at UMSI and will be entering a PhD program in the fall.








Lightning talks II: Digital environments

Moderator: Dr. Juliane Stiller (Berlin School of Library and Information Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

1. Ms. Juliane Köhler (Berlin School of Library and Information Science): "Searching in a foreign country in a foreign language - Online information seeking-behavior of refugees in Germany"

2. Mr. Jamie Duncan (University of Toronto Faculty of Information): "Negotiating citizenship: Mediatized migration and the Canadian data border"

3. Dr. Hua (Helen) Wang (University at Buffalo): "Digitally-mediated environments of refugees"


Further information


Searching in a foreign country in a foreign language - Online information seeking-behavior of refugees in Germany

(Juliane Köhler, Berlin School of Library and Information Science)

Abstract: In the lightning talk I want to present the methodology I used and especially the results that I obtained in my bachelor thesis: 'Information Seeking Behavior of Refugees - A video analysis'. In my thesis I reused the data from another study (a study of Dr. Juliane Stiller and Dr. Violeta Trkulja) that was conducted with seven male refugees from Syria and Iraq. The subjects were asked to answer nine questions concerning applications, apprenticeships, jobs and firm-comparisons in Germany. They were given a computer and Wi-Fi and were allowed to use any website they wanted to complete this task. Their search was recorded which produced a screen video for each subject. I analysed the seven videos of the refugee’s internet search with a mixed-method approach and an approach of the Grounded theory method. My goal was to find out what kind of search queries the subjects enter, which problems they encounter while searching and if search strategies can be observed. The analysis did not reveal a coherent search strategy but showed three main tactics used to enter a search query and that the use of these tactics seemed to differ according to how many of the tasks were completed correctly. Furthermore, the subjects had some problems regarding the understanding and the language. In the discussion, my conclusion is that language barriers are the biggest problems for the refugees trying to search certain topics and not necessarily the unfamiliarity of the task nor the websites. With my research I want to contribute to the scientific exchange and clearly it is eminently suitable for the workshop, especially for the theme ‘Digitally-mediated environments of refugees’.

Juliane Köhler studies at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science of the Humboldt-University of Berlin, majoring in the master's degree Information Science. Furthermore, she works as a student assistant in the Modern Language Center library of the Technical University of Berlin. She finished her undergraduate degree with her bachelor thesis 'Information Seeking Behavior of Refugees - A Video Analysis'. The thesis was a great milestone in her life, with which she discovered that she is highly interested in Information Behavior research. Therefore, she intends to investigate more Information Behavior related topics in the future.


Negotiating Citizenship: Mediatized migration and the Canadian data border

(Jamie Duncan, University of Toronto Faculty of Information)

Abstract: Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January of 2017, almost 40,000 people have crossed Canada's border with the United States irregularly to claim asylum near the town of Lacolle, Quebec. The arrivals were a protracted media event during 2017 and 2018, challenging the welcoming discourse of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government.

While xenophobic American policies were blamed for pushing people out, the concentration and consistency of arrivals over time was blamed on misinformation about Canada’s welcoming immigration policies on social media. In this presentation, I use the case of Lacolle to surface how networked technologies afford novel forms of government-citizen interaction. Specifically, I show how communities of migrant-citizens negotiated with the Canadian government in novel acts of connected citizenship, which were met, in turn, with networked performances of authority.

To tell this story, I consult press wire coverage from the Canadian Press and Agence France Presse as well as press releases, legislation, policy, and internal documents obtained through Access to Information legislation. I ask: Who speaks in the news and to what effect? Do institutional accounts accurately portray interactions between Canadian border officials and asylees? I show that official accounts are incomplete and de-emphasize the securitization of asylees and the ways in which the Canadian government operates to perpetuate global inequality. Canadian political elites dominate the coverage, adopting an ambivalent discourse of humanitarian securitization (Chouliaraki and Musaro, 2017). Asylee voices are selectively remediated to articulate the ignorant and vulnerable ‘figure of the refugee’ without political agency (Johnson, 2011).

Many critical scholars have shown migrants act as citizens despite efforts to limit their political possibilities (Nyers and Rygiel, 2012). While deemphasized in institutional accounts, asylum seekers were engaged as networked citizens by the Canadian state. The government sent several community-facing diplomatic missions to the United States and Nigeria and launched a targeted online campaign in Spanish and Creole to combat misinformation and convince people not to come. Through negotiations with these communities, Canadian political elites constituted a globally networked public domain to mediate government-citizen interactions. As such, even skewed institutional accounts of Lacolle implicitly acknowledged connected migrant citizenships.

Jamie Duncan is a Master’s student at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Information. He is a Junior Fellow at Massey College, a Student Affiliate of the C4E Ethics of AI Lab, and an engaged student leader with a passion for promoting openness, participation, and inclusion in policymaking. Jamie's research hinges on how technology impacts government-citizen interactions. He has studied digital citizenship and data governance in cities, the use of citizen journalist content in mass media conflict reporting, and applications of data-driven technology at international borders. His Master's thesis explores how global connectivity shapes interactions between Canadian border officials and asylum seekers. Using the case of Lacolle, QC, which has seen an anomalous rise in irregular migration from the United States since the beginning of 2017, Jamie surfaces novel forms of networked government-citizen interactions afforded by the massive global proliferation of media technology and intensification of anticipatory governance.


Digitally-mediated environments of refugees

(Hua (Helen) Wang, University at Buffalo)

Abstract: Clarkston is a city on the outskirt of Atlanta, GA in the United States. It is dubbed as “one of America’s most diverse square mile” because it has been a popular refugee resettlement site since the 1980s and today is home to people from more than 40 countries. We will share insights from an ongoing pilot project in Clarkston where our team used a mix of methods to capture the dynamics of information flow for members of the 18-29 age group. We used a simplified time diary in combination with personal social network mapping to gather data on how a young refugee spends a typical day at school/work and a typical day off, who they spend time with, and what communication channels, devices and applications they use for different purposes. By leveraging this ecological approach and understanding of their personal communication systems, we were able to identify specific roles and opportunities that social media can play during the process of refugee resettlement and cultural integration. Although the ultimate goal of our project is to provide effective sexual and reproduction health education and service delivery, these insights may have implications for other areas of concern and interest among refugee communities and researchers around the world.

Hua (Helen) Wang is Associate Professor of Communication and Affiliated Faculty of Community Health and Health Behavior at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, USA. Her work focuses on leveraging innovative strategies for health promotion for women and youth. Recently, she extended her work to better serve the unmet needs of young female refugees through sexual and reproductive health education and communication. Dr. Wang's research has been supported by government agencies as well as private institutions and recognized by the American Public Health Association and the International Communication Association.




Break and networking




Panel II: Use cases and solutions for issues in forced migration

Moderator: Dr. Violeta Trkulja (Berlin School of Library and Information Science, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Panelists: Dr. Bryce Clayton Newell (University of Kentucky), Alexandra Melinchok (University of Maryland) and Dr. Martha Kyrillidou (University of Illinois and QualityMetrics, LLC), Devendra Potnis (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)


Further information


Violeta Trkulja has a doctorate in Information Science from the Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet Düsseldorf, Germany. She worked as a researcher for the Department of Information Science at the Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet (2002-2008) and obtained her doctoral degree analyzing the Digital Divide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 2012, she has been working at the Berlin School of Library and Information Science at Humboldt-Universität Berlin as a researcher and project manager. Together with her colleague Juliane Stiller, she received the OCLC Research Grant in 2018 to examine the information-seeking behavior of refugee migrants in Germany, while pursuing a job, a training position, or following an educational path on the Internet. Violeta's research contributes to a better understanding of digital skills and information literacy of refugees that can be used to design targeted courses and curricula that address online deficits. She is a member of "the German Network of Refugee Researchers".


Surveillance, privacy, and information security: Digital human rights in the context of irregular migration.

(Bryce Clayton Newell, University of Kentucky)

Abstract: Irregular migrants often become the subjects of surveillance. This surveillance is conducted by states (who may be seeking to keep migrants or refugees from crossing their borders), for-profit entities (who might contract with states or other organizations to provide services), and humanitarian organizations that seek to help provide lifesaving care to migrants. Surveillance by humanitarian organizations (as well as that of states, in some contexts) has been cast in terms of being a "surveillance of care." However, although most humanitarian agencies working within the context of forced and irregular migration are concerned with the physical security of migrants, the importance of protecting the information security of migrants must not be left aside. In this talk, I discuss the importance of protecting the (information) privacy and information security of migrants and refugees, especially for humanitarian organizations that might collect information about migrants as a means to provide care, and link these concerns to fundamental human rights.

Bryce Clayton Newell is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. His research engages with law and technology, surveillance, and privacy. He has conducted research on surveillance, privacy, and information behavior in the context of irregular migration to the United States, as well as with multiple police agencies in the US. He is also Dialogue Editor for Surveillance & Society (the journal of the Surveillance Studies Network).


Assimilation versus integration: Personal perspectives from our experiences in Thessaloniki, Greece

(Alexandra Melinchok, University of Maryland and Martha Kyrillidou, University of Illinois and QualityMetrics, LLC)

Abstract: Much like we have little choice as to when and where we are born, issues of forced migration are submerged with perspectives of restricted choice.  Do migrants have a choice as to whether they integrate or assimilate into a host society? What are the digital literacy skills most important to migrants? How can we achieve the social and cultural fluency that is needed for healthy and productive social and cultural outcomes? How can we create information flows that empower the most vulnerable and alienated people? What should we be conscious of when working with NGOs, researchers, and other actors in this field? 

This presentation will summarize reflections from attending the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM) Conference in Thessaloniki, Greece in the summer of 2018. It will also summarize reflections from a summer school program at the University of Sheffield, Thessaloniki campus, entitled Refugee and Migrant Crisis: New Challenges of Integration. Finally, the presentation will discuss first-hand experiences volunteering at the Sindos Community Centre outside Thessaloniki. This presentation will delve into the gaps between the research and policies on forced migration and the realities refugees face. 

Alexandra Melinchok is currently a junior studying Government and Politics and Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has experience volunteering at a community center for refugees in Northern Greece. She is passionate about improving access and opportunity for refugees because her great-grandparents were Pontian refugees. 

Martha Kyrillidou is an information science consultant with QualityMetrics LLC working with academic, public, and government libraries and agencies. She is an experienced LIS evaluator and researcher having taught research methods at the U of Maryland and at Kent State University and with a PhD from the iSchool at the U of Illinois. She was born and raised in Thessaloniki with a BA from Aristotle University and comes from refugee grandparents.


Inequalities creating economic barriers to owning mobile phones: Factors influencing the gender digital divide in developing nations

(Devendra Potnis, University of Tennessee at Knoxville)

Abstract: Mobile phone has emerged as one of the most useful information and communication technologies for marginalized communities in the developing world. However, men disproportionately own mobile phones compared to women in several developing nations, creating a gender digital divide for the most widely owned information and communication technology in the world. For instance, as of 2018, in India, men own around 67% of mobile phones, with the highest gender gap in mobile phone ownership anywhere in the world. A study conducted with 245 female slum-dwellers in India, who earn less than $2 a day, shows that socio-cultural, economic, demographic, psychological, communication-related, and health related inequalities in the lives of the respondents create eight micro- and meso-level, economic barriers to owning some of the least expensive mobile phones worth $15 or so on installments of $1 a month. Micro-level barriers include fluctuating low personal income, low personal savings, lack of financial support from husbands, and cost of owning and maintaining a mobile phone. Meso-level barriers are low household income, majority of financial dependents in family, unexpected and unforeseen family expenses, and inherited debt. Out of all the pre-existing inequalities, socio-cultural and economic inequalities play a dominant role in challenging the respondents the most economically, precluding them from owning a mobile phone. The gender digital divide cannot be bridged unless the inequalities, especially socio-cultural and economic disparities, are addressed on a priority basis. To address the gender digital divide in a developing country like India, it is necessary to first equip women to overcome the inequalities that create unfair economic disadvantages for them.

Devendra Potnis is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. His research focuses on the adoption and ongoing use of information and communication technologies like mobile phones, wearable devices, information systems, e-Books, and mobile apps by: (a) individuals (e.g., undergraduates, women earning less than a dollar a day, citizens fighting corruption); (b) communities (e.g., mothers changing the birth culture in rural America, farmers using IBM’s Spoken Web in remote rural areas); and (c) organizations (e.g., academic libraries, public libraries, and microfinance institutions). He was the principal investigator for the projects funded by the ALISE/OCLC LIS Research Grant Program, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and University of Tennessee. He has published research in Government Information Quarterly, Telematics and Informatics, The Information Society, LIS Research, Information Development, First Monday, Communications of the AIS, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, among other venues. He recently worked for the US Department of State, the US Embassy in Kenya, and the US Embassy in Benin as part of the US Diplomacy Lab research projects on digital literacy and good governance, and leveraging the use of WhatsApp to spread the U.S. message in developing nations.




Wrap up; Knowledge dissemination (See our Call for Papers on Forced Migration for a Special Issue of IJIDI and the link to the offical website); Follow up events.