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Infrastructuring in Grassroots Innovation (IGI)


Applicants: Dr. Steffen Köhn (Freie Universität Berlin), Prof. Dr. Hans-Liudger Dienel (Technische Universität Berlin), Regina Sipos (Technische Universität Berlin)

Project partner:
Prof. José Luiz Alves (University of Pernambuco, Brazil)
Victoria Wenzelmann (Global Innovation Gathering, Germany)

The researchers are exploring new research approaches to global grassroots innovation movements, as academic attention on hacker and makerspaces in the Global South has been increasing, fueled by the “era of participation”. Instead of merely observing and describing the processes of collaborative social innovation emanating from these spaces, the project develops for new, participatory relationships between researchers and research participants, i.e. research dynamics that correspond to solidarity, egalitarian, and grassroots alliances within these grassroots movements.

In concrete terms, new methodological approaches and analytical frameworks are tested in real time: during the 2020 edition of the DOTS Impact Summit, an annual collaborative conference organized by the Berlin-based NGO Global Innovation Gathering (GIG). The DOTS Impact Summit connects a global network of hubs, makerspaces, and individuals who collaboratively implement concrete and tangible projects on burning social issues.

By accompanying the conference in a participatory manner, the research team wants to observe how the practices of networking and negotiation between the participants take place and how decisions are made. The aim is to develop an understanding of how the current situation is affecting grassroots innovation and technology development in the Global South and in development cooperation, and what opportunities could result.