I’m a researcher and writer based in the UK – currently, Public Engagement Researcher at the Ada Lovelace Institute. I also consult and conduct research for the Digital Poverty Alliance. My community organizing and research focuses on the lived experience of digital inequality.
The ubiquitous digitization of our everyday lives is leaving many people behind, and I explore what communities are doing to resist and reimagine our digital futures at a local, grassroots level.
As the internet becomes increasingly essential to the fulfillment of a well-rounded human life, exclusion from the internet due to lack of access or literacy exacerbates other forms of gender-based, racial, geographic, and socio-economic marginalization and disenfranchisement. As an anthropologist, I use ethnographic methods to work with people who are closing the digital divide from the bottom up, in their communities.
My overarching research interest is in the role, relevance, and resistances of “the local” in our digital worlds. In other words, I look at how local spaces, places, and identities are entangled with digital technologies, spaces, and identities. I think that looking at the local within the digital helps to challenge some of the most powerful and problematic universalizing mythologies of the internet.
In understanding the particularities of place that are salient to our digital experiences, we can better contextualize those experiences and the power dynamics that structure them. In addition, the local is a dynamic domain of experimentation, in which we can see otherwise invisible impacts of technology on people in their everyday lives. The local is also a domain in which alternative futures are imagined and tested.
Beyond my research and policy projects, I’m a writer, audio producer, and digital artist, and I co-lead the creative collective Cherry Soup. Since 2015, I’ve been running audio production workshops about how to turn research into podcasts.
I’ve collaborated on audio programs, art, and public events with academic and non-academic partners, usually focused on making research accessible and engaging for wider audiences. I also dabble in video filming and editing, where I specialize in informational script writing and video interviews. (But I produce the odd music video, too.)
In all of the work that I do, I advocate open access to knowledge and active knowledge exchange between academia and local communities. Knowledge and the authority to interpret what we know should not stay locked in an ivory tower — our academic research is based on engagement with societies, communities, institutions, and individuals, and we have a responsibility to share the knowledge we create together in order to open it up for debate and critique.
As Communications Director at the Oxford Human Rights Hub, I helped to make human rights scholarship freely accessible to global audiences. I’m also proud to have been part of the knowledge activism campaign Whose Knowledge?, which works to center the knowledge of marginalized communities on the web and raise awareness of the digital exclusions that keep the majority of the world from participating fully in digital knowledge creation and curation.
I completed my DPhil at the University of Oxford, where my dissertation focused on how mobility between online and offline spaces constituted a practice of resistance during and after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. I did my ethnographic fieldwork for this project in Cairo between 2011 and 2014.
I hold a B.A. at the College of William and Mary (Virginia, USA), where I completed a double-major in Government and Linguistics. After graduating, I attended the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship to read for an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies.