Research Seminar: Rachel Clarke

“But where’s it from?” Feminist geopolitics and Congolese women’s experiences of mobile and IoT technologies

Rachel Clarke, Northumbria University, Newcastle

Thursday 22th November 4.00pm T-Room, 1st Floor Evolution House, ECA


Since 1996 an unprecedented number of refugees have left the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) due to conflict over minerals used in mobile and IoT technology. Taking a feminist geopolitical perspective on experience-centered design (ECD) the talk will focus on mobile technology use of women in the UK originally from DRC. Current literature on the circular economy and repair have highlighted the relevance of conflict minerals as one of many motivations for greater technological justice. Technologies for building transparency in transnational networks of mineral trade increasingly integrate legal frameworks and blockchain infrastructures to support information sharing providing assurances for consumers on the conflict free sourcing of minerals. However many have argued these don’t benefit those communities who have fled due to mineral conflict. My current work suggests opportunities for understanding everyday use of existing and potential near future technologies experienced by women from DRC. Such insights are important for drawing attention to complex material entanglements and opportunities for re-design, re-use, adaptation and advocacy.


Rachel Clarke is a Global Challenges Research Fellow at Northumbria University, in the School of Design and Centre for International Development. As an interdisciplinary researcher she focuses on participatory design of technology and services in nongovernment organisations. She is currently co-investigator on a British Academy research project exploring the role of culture and design in supporting youth citizenship in Palestine.


Design Informatics, Room 1.09 Evolution House, Edinburgh College Art, 78 West Port, Edinburgh, EH1 2LE