Fakultäten » Philosophische Fakultät » Sozialanthropologie und Empirische Kulturwissenschaft, Institut für » Ethnologie » Prof. Dr. Annuska Derks » Meier

Completed research project

Title / Titel Developing “Technologies for Social Good” at the Digital Frontier – Digital Humanitarianism in Cambodia
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung New information and communication technologies such as mobile phones and social media did not only change the way we communicate and consume, but also the field of development and humanitarian aid. In my PhD research I would like to map these transformations through a case study in Cambodia.

“Digital humanitarians” might be the best term to describe a diverse group of experts deliberately taking advantage of new technological possibilities to improve developmental practices by providing and analyzing large sets of data (“big data”) to gain better knowledge of sites of intervention, by developing mobile applications to better understand and reach the subjects of their interventions, or by assisting aspiring local (social) entrepreneurs in using ICT to improve the livelihoods of themselves and others.

Cambodia is the site of a variety of different “digital humanitarian” efforts. In my research I will map these efforts by focusing on the concept of “innovation” and its application among different groups of “techies”, social entrepreneurs and development experts and analyzing what it means to develop “technologies for social good”. A crucial part of these efforts involves developing the necessary (digital) infrastructure, awareness and skills in Cambodia, at what might be called the digital frontier. My research site thereby offers a privileged access to the fundamental practices of digital humanitarianism in a state of becoming.

Through my research I intend to study the actual work of these experts, as well as their interactions with others, such as mobile phone users, peasants, developers, entrepreneurs or bureaucrats.

My research project aims to contribute to a better understanding of “digital humanitarians” and their practices, to gain knowledge of the interconnections of their work with a wider set of developmental and humanitarian discourses and to depict the ways in which these practices are located in a context of rapid social transformation processes in Cambodia.
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
M.A. Michael Meier (Project Leader)
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung)
Duration of Project / Projektdauer Mar 2016 to Jul 2018