Science and Technology in Developing Areas

The World Science Project


All videos are available in DVD format on request. These videos have been distributed without charge to hundreds of individuals and organizations worldwide. For information contact the project director, Wesley Shrum

Outer Space of Science  (2007)

This movie examines the problems of reagency in Ghana through sequences featuring the difficulties of an Internet connectivity project in Ghana from 2003 through 2004.  Produced for the “Geographies of Science” workshop in Heidelberg, Germany.

Before the Horse (2003)

This 20 minute movie deals with the difficulties of doing development work in the context of India , Kenya , and Ghana. Internet connectivity has been a major initiative of the international aid community since the 1990s. Yet most universities and research institutes still do not have “connectivity” in the ordinary sense. Subtitled “An Essay on Paragraphs Seven, Ten, and Twenty Three of The World Summit Plan of Action,” Internet connectivity is viewed as a potentially useful, but subject to many of the same problems that have plagued past development initiatives in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Filmed in Kerala ( India ), Kenya , and Ghana .

Before the Horse was screened three times at the World Summit on the Information Society (Phase I, Geneva , December 2003): (1) Role of Science in the Information Society (CERN). (2) Information Society film screening (ICT4D). (3) Engineering the Knowledge Society (International Federation for Information Processing).

Story Line : The movie is built around three sequences, questioning conventional views of connectivity. In the first part, shot in Kerala , India , the Internet is described as a life-changing event. In the second, filmed in Kenya , great expectations for a connectivity project are dashed, when it is discovered that cables are missing and some of the collaborators may be mainly after money. In the third, filmed in Ghana , a university professor explains ‘how things work’ in the development game.

After the Fact (2005)

The sequel to “Before the Horse.” Phase I of the World Summit on the Information Society was intended to set an agenda for action, while Phase II ( Tunis , Tunisia 16-18 Nov 2005) was intended to implement and report on that agenda. But the time frame was short and the complexity of problems relating to the digital divide was immense. Filmed in Kenya and Ghana . Screened twice at the World Summit on the Information Society (Phase II, Tunis , November 2005).

Story Line : Opens with a famous slave castle in Ghana , where a young African man is heard speaking to an African American tourist: he wants to go to America . Next, a reconstructed (but absolutely true!) scene from 1994, again in Ghana . A waitress near Cape Coast sees a mysterious machine-not knowing what it is supposed to do, she may understand it better than it’s user! (Cut to Nairobi in 2005 leads to a montage of dishes, telecommunications gear, and signs of the flourishing ICT market.) Back again to 2000, where two administrative officers in the Vice Chancellor’s office at JKUAT describe the difficulties of dialup connectivity. In the final scene (“There was a time.”) two professors at a Ghanaian talk about the Internet that they once had, but lost.

Pennukanal for the Perplexed (2004)

A visual essay of a traditional south-Indian ritual. “Girl-Seeing”—an event when the family of the groom views the prospective bride in person. Filmed at Loyola College of Social Sciences, Trivandrum, Kerala.

Trilogy on Development Tourism

A series of three movies on development tourism, beginning with the Golemari in the summer of 2003, and continuing with two new episodes in 2004: Dinner with Domingo and Flip-Flopped. This series of three video essays was first screened at the annual conference of the Society for Social Studies of Science at the Ecole des Mines, Paris, France, August, 2004.

Golemari . 2003. When you place your order at a restaurant in the developing world, you don’t always get what you want. What happens? Original title: “Expat Freakout.”

Dinner with Domingo . 2004. The expat, discouraged and jaded, is stalked by an incompetent con-artist, who attempts a “Nigerian Scam” in person. Not an easy sell.

Flip-Flipped . 2004. Two well-meaning donors arrive in Nairobi with 200 pairs of flip-flops for African children. Will they get there? It all depends on “administrative fees.”

Global Scientific Challenges: Collaboration and Cooperation.  (2007)

This 20 minute video summarizes discussions on transdisciplinary collaboration and international cooperation at the Lindau meeting of the International Foundation for Science (ICSU).

Promotional Videos

The project is pleased to produce (without charge) promotional videos for the collaborating institutions involved in the study. Sample videos include:

Introducing Katumani: National Dryland Farming Research Center 2003.

Introducing the Centre for Earth Science Studies 2003.

Other Movies

Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras. 2003. First screened at Conference on Holidays as a Seedbed of Virtue. Washington, March 2003. OK, we admit it. This is not a movie on science in the developing world. In fact, it is not a movie about science at all. Who cares.

After Katrina. (2005) A five-minute sequence featuring survivors of the hurricane and footage of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward.