Unexpected Development: Decolonial Media Aesthetics and Women’s ICT4D Video
Dalida Maria Benfield, Berkman Center Fellow
Tuesday, April 17, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, Second Floor
ICT4D (Information Communication Technology for Development) powerfully frames women’s grassroots video production in the Global South, much of which is distributed widely through YouTube. Often, these videos reproduce racialized and gendered discourses - legacies of colonialism - in their narratives of economic, social, and technological progress. However, there are also videos by women’s groups that defy both the historical linearity and spatial fragmentation of the ICT4D framework. These videos instead remix, reclassify, and globally reconnect women’s experiences in the contemporary moment. Culled from hundreds of online videos produced by ICT4D programs, including those in countries classified as having “Low Human Development” according to the Gender Inequality Index of the United Nations Development Program, these media represent powerful instances of a decolonial aesthetics, an altogether unexpected development. These ICT4D videos make compelling claims for other historical narratives and visions for women’s future lives, identities, and uses of information communication technologies.
Dalida María Benfield's research addresses artists’ and activists’ creative uses of video and other networked digital media towards social justice projects. Her work is focused on the transformational capacities of media art across different scales. As an artist and activist, she has developed production, education, exhibition, and distribution initiatives focused on youth, women, people of color in the U.S., and local and transnational social movements, including co-founding the media collective Video Machete. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of California-Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies with Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her dissertation, Apparatuses, Globalities, Assemblages: Third Cinema, Now, chaired by Trinh T. Minh-ha, considers contemporary media art theory and practice, including work by Cao Fei, Michelle Dizon, and the Raqs Media Collective, in relation to the Third Cinema movement. As a Fellow at the Berkman Center, she is studying race and gender in the online presence of ICT4D programs, as well as working on collaborative projects with the Networked Cultures Working Group, the Cyberscholars Working Group, and metaLAB(at)Harvard.