Raman: Ethnographic study of Indian land record digitization project

Bhuvaneswari Raman of the French Institute of Pondicherry has published The Rhetoric and Reality of Transparency: Transparent Information, Opaque City Spaces and the Empowerment Question, Journal of Community Informatics, 8(2), article 866 (2012).

The paper reports results of, among other things, an ethnographic study of an Indian project to digitize land title records.

Here is the abstract:

This paper examines the purported links between transparency, citizens’ participation and empowerment through a focus on the governance of spatial information in Indian cities. It suggests that the data transparency paradigm need to be critically examined as the effects of data visibility and mobility differ according to the nature of information disclosed and conflicts surrounding it. Both information and technology that supports it visibility are embedded in power relations. Three themes are elaborated in the paper namely, the continued difficulty with retrieving information on land and territory; the complexities involved in capturing and representing accurately the dynamics of territory use and ownership claims; and the emerging governmentality relating to spatial governance that renders power opaque.

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