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Aparna Moitra

ICTD & HCI Researcher

I'm a  Post Doctoral Researcher, with a background in Communication for Development and Social Change. I specialize in Information Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD) research. I have 6+ years experience and expertise in designing voice-based social media for resource poor and low-literacy contexts.


My research interests have diversified towards Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research to combine an understanding of local values and social practices in designing for the prevention of gender-based violence and providing mental health support for marginalized communities during and in the aftermath of COVID-19.

 
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Detailed Bio

I have always found joy in learning, but it wasn’t until I finished a series of rural immersions during my graduate program in India that I realized just how much I enjoyed being intellectually challenged to work on a research problem. Enveloped in an academic environment, I learned engaging with empirical data, existing literature and theoretical frameworks to seek and design innovative solutions to the research problem.

I have a B.Sc. (2009) and a M.Sc. (2011) in Development Communication and Extension and a Ph.D. (2018) from the University of Delhi. For my Ph.D., I worked with Prof. Aaditeshwar Seth and Prof. Archna Kumar on embedding Mobile Vaani, an externally-driven Interactive Voice Response (IVR)-based community media platform among the low-literacy and socially marginalized populations of Rural India. 

I am currently working as a Post Doctoral researcher with Prof. Ishtiaque Ahmed and the Third Space research group at the DGP Lab, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto. I am qualitatively investigating the role of technological interventions (such as online feminist movements) and their design in supplementing on-ground social justice ecosystems in case of gender-based violence.

 

Publications

Select list of first-authored publications

Understanding the Challenges for Bangladeshi Women to Participate in #MeToo Movement

Moitra, A., Hassan, N., Mandal, M. K., Bhuiyan, M., & Ahmed, S. I. (2020). Understanding the Challenges for Bangladeshi Women to Participate in #MeToo Movement. In proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 4(GROUP), 1-25.

An Analysis of Community Mobilization Strategies of a Voice-based Community Media Platform in Rural India.

Moitra, A., Kumar, A., & Seth, A. (2018). An Analysis of Community Mobilization Strategies of a Voice-based Community Media Platform in Rural India. Information Technologies & International Development, 14,116–133.

  

Design Lessons from Creating a Mobile-based Community Media Platform in Rural India

Moitra, A., Das, V., Vaani, G., Kumar, A., & Seth, A. (2016, June). Design Lessons from Creating a Mobile-based Community Media Platform in Rural India. In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (p. 14). 

 

Co-authored Publications

Reflections from Practical Experiences of Managing Participatory Media Platforms for Development

Seth, A., Gupta, A., Moitra, A., Kumar, D., Chakraborty, D., Enoch, L., Ruthven, O., Panjal, P., Siddiqi, R. A., Singh, R., Chatterjee, S., Saini, S., & Pratap, V. S. (Forthcoming). Reflections from Practical Experiences of Managing Participatory Media Platforms for Development. Accepted at the 11th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2020). 

Can Women Break the Glass Ceiling?: An Analysis of# MeToo Hashtagged Posts on Twitter

Hassan, N., Mandal, M. K., Bhuiyan, M., Moitra, A., & Ahmed, S. I. (2019). Can Women Break the Glass Ceiling?: An Analysis of# MeToo Hashtagged Posts on Twitter. In proceedings of ASONAM 2019.

Nonparticipation of Bangladeshi Women in #MeToo Movement.

Hassan, N., Mandal, M. K., Bhuiyan, M., Moitra, A., & Ahmed, S. I. (2019). Nonparticipation of Bangladeshi Women in #MeToo Movement (Poster). In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTDX).

Hill women’s voices and community communications about climate change

Moitra, A.,& Kumar, A. (2016). Hill women’s voices and community communications about climate change. In J. Servaes & T. Oyedemi (Eds.), The praxis of social inequality in media: A global perspective (pp. 137–159). London, UK: Lexington Books.

Application of Mobile Phones and Social Media to Improve Grievance Redressal in Public Services.

Seth, A., Katyal, A., Bhatia, R., & Kapoor, D. Balachandran C, Venkat, V., Moitra, A., Chatterjee, C., Shivam, M., Koradia, Z. & Naidu, P. (2012). Application of Mobile Phones and Social Media to Improve Grievance Redressal in Public Services. In proceedings of M4D.

Radio Dhadkan: A community radio connecting, educating and entertaining the Sahariyas in Shivpuri district, Madhya Pradesh, India

Arora, A., & Moitra, A. (2011). Radio Dhadkan: A community radio connecting, educating and entertaining the Sahariyas in Shivpuri district, Madhya Pradesh. Knowledge Community on Children in India. New Delhi, India: UNICEF.

 

Projects

The Offline and Online Justice Infrastructures towards Prevention and Reporting of Sexual Harassment in the Global South

October 2018 - Present

  This project attempts to investigate the offline and online justice infrastructure around the prevention and reporting of sexual harassment in the South Asian countries of India and Bangladesh. We employ a qualitative approach to gather data from middle-class women and LGBTQ+ individuals working in academia, social work/social activism and corporate sector to understand their experiences and perceptions towards the prevention and reporting mechanisms of sexual harassment within the offline legal justice frameworks in place vis-á-vis the online social media based feminist movements such as #MeToo.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR)-based Community Media Platform for Development: The case of Jharkhand Mobile Vaani

2012-2018

I was engaged in the day-to-day operations of Mobile Vaani, a mobile-based social media platform for low literacy, socially and economically marginalized populations living in rural areas of central India. Built by the social enterprise Gram Vaani, Mobile Vaani works using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems. I worked towards the appropriation of this externally driven technology platform. Using a mix-methods approach, I investigated how the key processes of targetted community mobilization, user-generated content management and developing institutional linkages at the grassroots level helped users in appropriating the platform while diversifying and sustaining the userbase. I also qualitatively evaluated the effects users reported upon their engagement with the Mobile Vaani platform and categorized them into a set of incremental learnings. I demonstrated how these learnings, in the long term, have a potential to shift societal mindsets and lead to social change. This project served as my doctoral thesis.

Community Radio and its role in Community Empowerment

2010-2012

  In this duration, as parts of multiple ongoing projects, I worked with different community radio stations serving different ecologies and demographies of the rural remote regions in India. My year-long work with Henvalvani Community Radio serving the Garhwali Himalayan ecology of Uttarakhand helped outline the intricate workings of a community radio platform, their role in bringing about community development and their financial sustainability challenges. Using the Most Significant Change Technique and Participatory Learning and Action methods, I investigated the role of activities conducted by Henvalvani Community Radio in helping hill women negotiate the infrastructural and survival challenges brought about by climate change. Following this, I worked on a 3-month Unicef India fellowship to document the role of a Community Radio station in connecting, educating and entertaining the indigenous tribal community of Sahariays in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh. In order to bring about transparency in governance and disbursements of welfare entitlements for the underserved and marginalized populations, as part of my work with Gram Vaani, I also engaged in conducting social accountability campaigns with Community Radio Stations pan-India on the topics of Right to Education, Disbursement of Subsidized Ration and Rural Employment Guarantee.

 

News & Resources

Aparna Moitra delivers an ICTD talk at the University of Toronto

Aparna Moitra delivered a talk on her work with Mobile Vaani, a voice-based media platform in rural India on March 3rd, 2020 at the DGP Lab, Department of Computer Science, Univeristy of Toronto.

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Workspace

Gold Medal conferred upon Aparna Moitra for Excellence in Doctoral work

Aparna Moitra was honored with the Anupa Sahi Siddhu Gold medal for demonstrating Excellence in her Doctoral work by Lady Irwin College, University of Delhi, India. The award was formally conferred upon her during the college's Founder's Day celebrated earlier in the month of March, 2020.

Interested in my work? Get in touch.

 

©2020 by Aparna Moitra.

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