The Department of Communication in collaboration with Centre for Regional Studies organized a research roundtable on “Technocratic Optimisation: How international development determines value” by Professor Jo Tacchi, Loughborough University, London, on February 25, 2020 at Conference Hall, School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad.

Prof Tacchi is a media anthropologist, currently teaching at the Institute of Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University in London and is here at University of Hyderabad under Duo-India Fellow program. She led a number of complex, multi-country research projects and developed ethnographic and action research approaches that have been taken up globally. She authored books like, Evaluating Communication for Development (2013) and Digital Ethnography: Principles and Practices (2016). Her current works explores issues of voice and participation in relation to information and communication technologies (ICT), media and development, education and active citizenship and capacity development in relation to evaluation of communication and development.

She began the talk with explaining the meaning of the term “technocratic optimisation”, followed by her paper presentation. Prof Tacchi’s paper talked about the easiest route to deliver communication for development projects is to simplify complexity, plan activities that are measurable and that conform to established registers of monitoring and meaning. This leads to an abundance of behaviour change projects, with information packaged and delivered at scale, and serves only to place the emphasis for change on decontextualised and abstracted individuals rather than suboptimal or oppressive social, economic and political structures.

She also spoke about UNICEF being one of the major international multilateral agencies to use technocratic approaches on a large scale. “Technocrats advocate technical, often technological solutions. They believe in a science of human affairs,” she added.

Prof Tacchi mentioned about her upcoming book “Communicating for Change” in which 14 scholars, including Prof Vinod Pavarala, Department of Communication (UoH), came together in London and brought in focus three meta topics – citizenship and justice, critique of development and renewing thoughts to articulate technocratic optimisation. The paper presentation was also followed by a question answer session in which various faculties and students actively participated.