Since the end of the fall semester of 2011, I have been working on a paper that integrates theories of ethnic cooperation and information asymmetries to understand why mobile phones can have a significant effect on conflict prevention. You can find the working paper here. I presented this paper in Australia at the University of Sydney this past July, and will be presenting it again Dec. 1 at the African Studies Association conference in Philadelphia to get as much feedback as possible on the way I’m structuring the qualitative portion of the analysis. With that in mind, I’ve booked a ticket to Kenya to join my colleague Liz Stones and see how people really use their phones in day to day life!
The biggest thing we’re working on right now is finalizing our questions for the survey we’ll be doing – it’s a first hash at perhaps doing a larger body of surveys to help us understand how or if mobile phones can be a factor in how ethnic groups cooperate in contested political environments. Feedback on the methodology or ideas for designing surveys would be a huge help! And of course, if you’re going to be in Nairobi let us know – we’re looking forward to hanging with the tech community while we’re there!