Wiki-urbanism: The politics of writing and curating Delhi’s gendered margins in open knowledge platforms

Authors: Ayona Datta*, University College London, Padmini Ray Murray, Design Beku
Topics: Urban Geography, Gender, Women
Keywords: Wikipedia, urban margins, city, gender, platforms, Delhi, India, network
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Governors Square 10, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the politics of writing and curating the city from the margins using open knowledge platforms. It is based on an AHRC funded project 'Gendering the Smart City' in which we engaged in co-producing knowledge and information of a slum resettlement colony in Delhi’s urban peripheries with young women residents, who are living the paradox of a digital urban age. They have increased access to mobile phones, communication networks and opportunities, yet struggle everyday with invisibility - of their settlement in public records, and of their voice and agency in the city. In an editathon seeking to address this invisibility, we examined how the world’s largest encyclopaedia - Wikipedia might be considered an alternative platform through which Delhi's gendered margins might be included. Using this experience, we will argue that 1) Despite increased access to digital technologies those in the urban margins are ghettoised in closed rooms (such as WhatsApp) and are increasingly subject to fake news. Lacking the capacity to enter the space of web browsers, they are unable to check the authenticity of knowledge circulated; 2) Wikipedia’s curatorial assumption of ‘authentic’ knowledge as published, codified and worthy of citation excludes oral, gendered and embodied knowledges and experiences of those living in the urban margins; and 3) The politics of writing and curating Delhi's urban margins reveal the inherent epistemological violence of privileging access to 'open' knowledge ring-fenced by corporate interests (such as Google) that discriminate against spaces, places and people in the margins.

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