Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Opinion Piece: EM magazine

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Invited talks in Delhi, Manchester and Paris

What a packed but exciting month. Just came back from New Delhi after a stimulating workshop with a group of interdisciplinary scholars and activists at the IIIT Delhi campus. This international Symposium on Digital Politics in Millennial India is part of a larger project on politics in digital India by Sahana Udupa at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München. Here, I spoke about the impact of datafication and bots in the political life of low-income communities in India. While these talks were going on, the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University staff and students were on strike due to policies from the government that was infringing on their academic autonomy. There were also a number of scholars from the United Kingdom who were also in the midst of the largest academic strike over pensions and the growing privatization and commodification of education. This was a humble reminder about how knowledge is deeply political and how we need to continuously struggle to keep it protected from such infringements.

After which, I am giving a talk at the EHESS seminar "Etudier les cultures du numérique" (Studying Digital Cultures) on 'mobilizing the ludic underclass in the digital age.' 

Lastly, I will be heading shortly to Manchester with Linnea Thompson to present our paper on crowdsourcing as a potential tool to reorganize and reformulate global unions and transparent communicative practices between laborers and brands. This workshop Development Implications of Digital Economies: Findings and Next Steps is the last of the Development Implications of Digital Economies (DIODE) Strategic Research Network.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Selected to be a ZeMKI Visiting Research Fellow

I just got news that I have been selected for the ZeMKI Visiting Research Fellowship in Media, Communication and Information. My application was selected out of a received 107 applications in total for 2018. The duration of this fellowship will be a month in the Fall 2018.

The ZeMKI, Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, University of Bremen, offers a thriving interdisciplinary research environment in the areas of media, communication and information. Involved disciplines include communication and media studies, computer science, cultural studies, educational science, studies in religion, and history.

As a ZeMKI Visiting Research Fellow, I will be involved with the research activities at the interdisciplinary centre with over 60 members. I plan on contributing to these research activities in the area of media change and transforming communications in the form of a research paper for the“Communicative Figurations” working paper series as well as a lecture in the ZeMKI Research Seminar.

Really looking forward to this new adventure with some cool people.

Besides, given the timing, would be a wonderful finale to go to the Christmas market here :)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Name politics

Whilst there are good arguments for re-examine naming in academic citations, making specific allowances for certain scholars over others reminds us that academia continues to be elitist, thinks Payal Arora.

It was a typical academic workshop. “Madhu Madhu” was the next presenter. This Indian female academic came on stage and started to explain the politics behind her name and how it went wrong. Her name was just “Madhu.” Not “Madhu Madhu.”
In India, you can tell a person’s caste by his/her last name. There is pervasive discrimination based on the caste to which you belong. Since you are born into a caste, there is absolute immobility. This is a barrier to social equality, also in academia.
For these reasons, she was politically motivated to drop her last name.
When she applied to do this workshop in the United Kingdom, she explained her name change multiple times to the organisers. However, columns needed to be filled and this diverged from academic protocol. Hence, the organisers gave her the name “Madhu Madhu.”
One might argue that whilst her politics are relevant and convincing in her local context, academic standardisation exists to avoid exceptionalism. It would be a privilege for Madhu to change bibliographic standards. It would emphasise her social capital against all those who do not have power to enforce their own name politics. A worthwhile case for academic democracy.
Meanwhile, an accomplished American academic Danah Boyd has succeeded in establishing her name in small letters.
To read the rest, click here 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Opinion Piece: Why Role Models are a scam

Why role models are a scam

Why do we insist on role models for our children? Why do we need fiction to aspire to when reality with its messiness is a better teacher?
Every New Year starts with a media frenzy, offering us a buffet of role models. Reflective celebrities renewing their feminist vows in the post #metoo era. Ordinary heroes braving last year’s tragedies of hurricanes and terrorism. Past icons reviving in the history books. While the role models refresh every year, the idea of them as essential to our personal growth is unwavering.
What do we do when role models disappoint? The year 2017 saw a host of role models fall to the ground due to sexual misconduct allegations. Can Louis C.K make us laugh anymore? Is Charlie Rose still a brilliant anchor and Kevin Spacey still one of our favorite actors? Role models do not have the privilege of redemption. They are frozen as ideal types for us to emulate. When they lose their perfection, they appear no longer useful. We throw the baby out with the bathwater...
click here for the rest of the article.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Honored to be nominated for the Dutch Teacher of the Year Election for 2018

Every year, The Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) holds an election for Teacher of the Year in higher education across the Netherlands. ISO is the largest national student organization in the Netherlands and represents over half a million students of universities and universities of applied sciences.

For 2018, I have been nominated by the Rector and the university board to represent my university for this national competition. Am very honored and grateful. Now the waiting game to see if I reach the finalists in April. Crossing fingers here!

Speaker on Prizes for innovation at the Digital Economies workshop in South Africa

South Africa, here I come! Am excited to finally head to the African continent for the first time. Will be speaking on how prizes are being used to spur innovation and strengthen the digital economies in emerging markets. My talk draws from the commissioned report for the UN on innovation in education in developing countries.

Am being hosted by the timely initiative and network established by Richard Heeks and team called the DIODE network (Development Implications of Digital Economies), funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council.

Besides this, I will be exploring new sites for my research on privacy in the global South in Cape town. Also, I am looking into how I can further the mission of Catalyst Lab, the organization I founded in 2015 that stimulates new forms of engaging communication between academia and the lay public using social media. I will be exploring a partnership with CREST (Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology) at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

So much to do, such little time! And of course, do some academic tourism on the can I resist the charms of Cape Town and Stellenbosch!