Kathryn Zyskowski

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Research Summary: 
My dissertation explores the everyday experiences of low-income students who aspire to get ahead by taking basic computer certificate courses in Hyderabad, India. Hyderabad is a booming cosmopolitan city of 9 million people that recently gained a reputation as India’s second largest IT hub. While home to an increasingly visible middle class with a global outlook, large sections of the population struggle to navigate the city’s new opportunities for world-class education and jobs. Development rhetoric emphasizes the importance of basic computer education for all; yet ethnographic research on the experience of such training is largely absent from literature on IT education in India and the anthropology of aspiration. This project examines basic computer training centers as an intersection of global circulations of technology and labor with local ideas of wellbeing, such as marriage, dignity, health, and virtue. With attention to the historic and socioeconomic processes that undergird the creation of this new education market of technical certificate courses, this research traces the unequal contours of its profit, commodities, and labor patterns. This project contributes to the literature on the equalizing potentials (and pitfalls) of technology training, the social structure of aspiration at the margins of an IT economy, and the development discourse on the digital divide in urban India. Research abroad funded by Fulbright-Hays, Wenner-Gren and AIIS.
Sociocultural Anthropology
Socioeconomic mobility, technical education, aspiration, digital divide, minoriities, religion, the everyday, South Asia (India)
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