Dissertation Proposal Defense: Daniel Kryger
Statistics and the Sector: Ignorance and Insight in Humanitarian Knowledge Production
Abstract: Data work increasingly undergirds humanitarian operations. Some humanitarian practitioners tout the potential of new technologies and practices in ‘evidence-based humanitarianism’, and possibilities for increased efficiency and effectiveness of life-saving assistance. However, others in the sector are more critical. They emphasize how these tools frequently fail to meet expectations, and how this transformation of data practices has not led to a transformation in outcomes. Both perspectives take the category of ‘data’ (typically quantitative indicators) as a given, and neither take into substantive consideration the myriad ways in which this data is produced and communicated.
In this dissertation, I will contribute to the discussion by studying the diversity of practices used in the production of indicators in humanitarian cash-assistance projects based out of Jordan in 2022-2023. This is intended as an empirical analysis of evidence-based policy practices, in close conversation with the academic literature theorizing quantification and ignorance.
I will focus my investigation along three dimensions:
- How are indicators constructed and communicated by humanitarian implementing partners managing cash assistance projects from Jordan (July 2022-June 2023)?
- How do current theories of quantification relate to the construction and communication of indicators in my case?
- How is uncertainty expressed in relation to indicators in this case? How does that compare to the expression of uncertainty in nonquantitative humanitarian contexts?
Chair: Ricardo Gomez, Associate Professor, iSchool, UW
GSR: Ben Brunjes, Assistant Professor, Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, UW
Member: Nic Weber, Assistant Professor, iSchool, UW
Member: Associate Professor David Ribes, HCDE, UW
Member: Ahmer Arif, Assistant Professor, School of Information, University of Texas Austin