Intimate humanitarian objects: wearables and the gift of data
Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (Peace Research Institute Oslo)
Paper short abstract:
Through a case study of the UNICEF 'Wearables for Good'challenge,this paper explores an emergent type of humanitarian objects involving a radical repositioning of the direction/nature of the aid as beneficiaries are expected to provide the gift of data produced through their digital bodies.
Paper long abstract:
Through a case study of the UNICEF 'Wearables for Good' challenge, this paper provides an initial exploration of an emergent type of humanitarian objects, namely wearables for tracking and protecting the health, safety and nutrition of aid recipients. Drawing on STS-theory and taking the co-constitutive processes of 'humanitarian wearables' as the object of exploration, the paper sets out to reflect on the ambiguous position of intimate humanitarian goods developed at the interface of emergency response contexts; the digitization of beneficiary bodies; and the rise of data and private sector involvement in humanitarian aid. The paper suggests that a key analytical insight to be explored with respect to 'the making' of humanitarian wearables is the radical repositioning of the direction and nature of the aid— going beyond the findings of a large body of scholarship examining the ambiguity of aid as a form of gift from donors and humanitarian actors— as beneficiaries are expected to provide the gift of data as produced on and through their digital bodies.
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