Village Gone Viral: Understanding the Spread of Policy Models in a Digital Age

Models as viral assemblages? In this seminar, Marit Tolo Østebo will look at policy models and how they come into being.

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Illustration picture, photo credit: Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo.

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Abstract

In this seminar, Marit Tolo Østebø uses the example of Awra Amba, a small, rural village in Ethiopia that has become a transnational model for gender equality and sustainable development to consider the widespread circulation and use of modeling practices in an increasingly transnational and digital world. What are models and how do they come into being? What facilitates and fuels a model’s virality? Why do some models go viral, why others do not? And what are the effect of the model status on the models themselves? Drawing on assemblage thinking, Gabriel Tarde’s social epidemiology and lessons from virology, Østebø suggests that a model – whether it being a mathematical model, an algorithm, “best practice” or a lived-in model village – best can be understood as a “viral assemblage”: a messy, fluid, socio-technical process and constellation of non-human and human actors, things, unpredictable events, and relations that have contagious and affective qualities.

About Marit Tolo Østebo

Photo of Marit Tolo Østebø
Dr. Marit Tolo Østebø 

Marit Tolo Østebø is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Florida whose works contribute to multiple specialties including anthropology of development, anthropology of religion, digital anthropology, global health, critical policy studies, gender studies, and Science and Technology Studies (STS). In addition to being the author of Village Gone Viral Understanding the Spread of Policy Models in a Digital Age (Stanford 2021), Østebø has published numerous articles, including Can Respect be Key to Gender Justice (2017), The Silencing of Political Context in Health Research in Ethiopia: Why it Should be a Concern (2018), Wrong, but Useful – For Whom? The Politics of Pandemic Modeling (2020), and Religion and the ‘Secular Shadow’: Responses to Covid-19 in Ethiopia (2021).

While Østebø’s work tends to be multi-sited and transnational in nature, her primary geographical focus is Ethiopia, where she has conducted anthropological fieldwork since 2005, and where she, prior to pursuing an academic career, was involved in humanitarian and development work. Østebø is a certified Consultant-Trainer in Team Based Learning (TBL) and was awarded the 2016-2017 Teacher of the Year Award by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida.
 

About this seminar

Global Health Unpacked” is a seminar series that aims to bring together the global health community on a regular basis to critically discuss key debates in Global Health in informal and interactive seminars. Guest speakers (both from the University of Oslo and from other universities) will bring an original perspective to the topic and engage in a conversation with the audience.

With this forum, we also hope to facilitate exchanges and collaborations between global health researchers and students present in Oslo and foster interdisciplinary research. “Global Health Unpacked” is jointly organized by the research group Global Health Politics, Centre for Development and the EnvironmentUiO Centre for Global Health.

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Published Nov. 24, 2021 11:05 AM - Last modified Nov. 24, 2021 1:49 PM