Skip Content

Psy-technologies as Global Assemblage: Histories and Social Lives of Quantification and Digitisation in Three Former Countries of the British Empire

This project explores the historical conditions of the British Empire that enabled the development of psy-technologies.

Psy-technologies (from algorithmic diagnostic tools to smartphone apps) have become a central element of development programmes, increasing the reach of behaviour change agendas globally. For some, psy-technologies signify a ‘new field of investigation’, raising the need for novel methodological tools. Yet, while many technologies are new, they are embedded in historical conditions, often linked to colonial governance. Current research points to the role of technology in making visible behavioural and psychological ‘problems’ and in constructing them as amenable to technological intervention. This project investigates the neglected global coloniality of psy-technologies, and argues that this historical dimension has effects not only on the reception of these technologies but fundamentally structures how behaviour and psychologies are understood and governed.

Principal Investigator: Dr China Mills, Lecturer in Critical Educational Psychology, University of Sheffield

Project part of


We foster international collaboration in the humanities and social sciences, and promote the sharing of international perspectives on global challenges.

Tackling the UK's International Challenges 2017

The projects funded under the Tackling the UK's International Challenges programme aim to bring new research ideas and methods to bear on existing international challenges and to deliver specific policy-relevant outputs pertaining to the themes of the British Academy’s current international policy priorities: Urban Futures; Conflict, Stability & Security; Justice, Rights & Equality; and Europe’s Futures.

Other projects in this programme