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Showing posts with the label globalization

Keynote at Digital Fortress Europe in Brussels

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I delivered a keynote on 'Amplified activism from afar" in addressing border-making through social media and how diasporas can be powerful forces to contend with in the shaping of national agendas, policies and even grassroots social movements.

This was for the ECREA organized event called "Digital Fortress Europe: Exploring Boundaries between Media, Migration and Technology" held in Brussels end October.

The two-day conference served as a forum to "reflect on the relations between media, migration, and technology. These relations demand our fullest attention because they touch on the essence of what migration means in societies that are undergoing democratic challenges. Research shows that media and technologies play a vital role for people who migrate, but that the same media and technologies serve to spread xenophobia, increase societal polarization and enable elaborate surveillance possibilities. With its intensifying anti-migration populist discourses, hu…

Rockefeller Foundation Workshop on Responsible AI Futures

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The Rockefeller Foundation has committed itself to shape the design and impact of Artificial Intelligence on Society with a series of workshops and vision documents. The first in its series - 'Designing a Responsible AI Future' just took place in Bellagio Italy on Oct 9-12 ,2019. I was invited to contribute to this effort alongside technologists, thought leaders, academics, and artists, although admittedly, while diverse in their disciplines and focus, were primarily from the Anglo-Saxon region. 
So the conversation was dominated by United States concerns and issues with an emphasis on decentralization of tech, and focus on the harmful effects of fintech, facial recognition, and other innovations as a means of building a responsible AI. While undoubtedly accountability matters very much so, from a global perspective, the opportunities of AI, and the importance of convergence of diverse platforms into these hyper-ecosystems emerge from the vantage point of scarce resources and …

Keynote for the Digital Inclusion Policy Conference in London

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What a wonderful and diverse audience for this keynote for the Digital Inclusion Policy conference held in London by the University of Liverpool. It emerged from some very critical and timely questions such as - What type of skills do people need to ‘be digital’? Do different people from different ages and abilities need different types of skills and training? And how can we foresee what skills will be needed for future work? The conference brought together researchers, civic activists, government think-tanks, policy practitioners, tech entrepreneurs and more from very different contexts and countries which made these conversations more challenging and rewarding. 
My keynote was about Inclusion with the emergence of the Next Billion Users and what that means for equity and justice at a global level in this data-driven age. 
The basis of my talk was as follows:
The mobile phone has been a global game-changer. There are more cellphones than people in China. India is the biggest market …

Podcast with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

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The podcast interview with Nora Young from Spark Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is now out. You can listen to it by clicking here.
As the number of people who are connected to the internet around the world grows, the 'next billion' users are likely to be in the developing world, young, with low incomes, and accessing the internet on mobile devices. Payal Arora (Damjan Svarc) In her new book, The Next Billion Users: Digital Life Beyond the West, digital anthropologist Payal Aroralooked at the way young users actually use the internet in a number of developing-world countries, from Brazil to Saudi Arabia. She argues that we in the West have a lot of preconceptions about how those users do — or 'ought to' — behave online. Arora spoke with Spark host Nora Young. The core of your book is that there's a belief in the west that people in the developing world are using the internet for research, education, to find work, practical things. Overall, what did you find …

New Book with Harvard Press out

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These months have been absolutely exciting as my new book 'The Next Billion Users: Digital Life beyond the West' with Harvard University Press has come out!

This is my first non-academic book, written for a wider audience interested in technology, society and globalization. After two years and multiple revisions later, guided by the brilliant ruthlessness of my editor, I have emerged with my sanity restored again. Now its time to reap the benefits and sit back and relax a bit. I had to really rethink what good writing is and to be honest, unlearn some seriously bad writing habits I picked up with my time in academia.

What is my book about? Check out the book cover which states...

A digital anthropologist examines the online lives of millions of people in China, India, Brazil, and across the Middle East—home to most of the world’s internet users—and discovers that what they are doing is not what we imagine. New-media pundits obsess over online privacy and security, cyberbullyin…

Talk at the International Film Festival Rotterdam on algorithms and media consumption

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Studio Erasmus hosted an event at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam (IFFR) on how does Netflix affect our film tastes? Filip Vermeylen and I were interviewed about the impact of algorithms on popular culture and to what degree did we believe this new innovation was disruptive? Are platforms like YouTube and Netflix restructuring the film and television world? What does the disappearance of traditional 'gatekeepers' mean? And do we actually allow ourselves to be surprised in an age where our media use is analysed in so much detail to create new blockbusters?

This was really timely as I have been working on this for awhile now and especially with my new book, I argue that we need to start looking at the worlds majority of young people as legitimate consumers who happen to be outside the West and often in low-income settings. For too long we have had a condescending view that they are criminals and immortal as they consume pirated goods rather than delving into their ta…

Talk at Humboldt Berlin on Tech, Law and Access to Justice

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On 28th and 29th of November 2018, I participated and spoke at a workshop titled  “The Future of Law: Technology, Innovation and Access to Justice” at the Humboldt University of Berlin.  The workshop was organised by the Chair for  Public Law and Comparative Law, Humboldt University of Berlin and the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung for Freedom. My talk was titled, "Above the law and below poverty: Databased obfuscations, activism and publicity from the global South." My talk argues that contrary to seeking to be protected through anonymity as the bulk of the current research alludes to, some of those at the margins may choose to put themselves at high risk by being visible and heard. The GDPR, rooted in the Western ideology of individual choice and rights, may have created a privacy universalism, begging the question of whether privacy is a privilege and a luxury. This talk draws from a decade of fieldwork and activism among vulnerable communities beyond the West to grapple with …

Delivered a keynote on Automating Culture

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A few days ago, I delivered a keynote on ‘Automating culture: How Digital Platforms are Shaping the Art World’ for an international conference organized by Prof. Filip Vermeylen. For about a decade now, we both have been working on the democratization possibilities of the art world through the rise of social media and globalization through the new cultural commons project.

The talk was about how the art world has entered the platform economy. The art industry is being subjected to similar fears and possible opportunities of automation as other cultural industries such as the music, film and the publishing business. Hence, it asks some key questions: Can the traditional art intermediaries still compete in the platform economy as data mining companies enter the fray? Has the divide between the high and the popular culture collapsed as user behavior, platform design and engineering staff circulate between these worlds? Do customers no longer care about the aura of the art piece before bu…

Appointed Editor for the Communication and Media Section in the new University of California Press Journal-Global Perspectives

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Global Perspectives (GP) is an online-only, peer-reviewed, transdisciplinary journal seeking to advance social science research and debates in a globalizing world, specifically in terms of concepts, theories, methodologies, and evidence bases. GP is devoted to the study of global patterns and developments across a wide range of topics and fields, among them trade and markets, security and sustainability, communication and media, justice and law, governance and regulation, culture and value systems, identities, environmental interfaces, technology-society interfaces, shifting geographies and migration.
I will be leading the Communication and media section with Helmut K. Anheier from the Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, Germany serving as the Editor-in-Chief. 
GP sets out to help overcome national and disciplinary fragmentation and isolation.GP starts from the premise that the world that gave rise to the social sciences in their present form is no more. The national and disciplinary a…

Speaking on Digital Cultures at Collège des Bernardins in Paris

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This international conference at the Collège des Bernardins was on the topic of "L’humain au défi du numérique". Basically, it focused on digital & cultural diversity. Following the work of Milad Doueihi, the Chair of the Collège des Bernardins on "The human being with the digital challenge", the study day "Numerique & Diversité culturelle" proposes to examine the digital experience in other regions of the world and the possibility of thinking differently, using different methodologies and categories of thought. Can we still study digital culture, or produce an audible discourse on it, without systematically discussing the issue of digitization, encoding, mapping, data and usage? The meeting of computer science with the human and social sciences seems to have tightened the perimeter of the latter. The suspicion that weighs since their origins on their scientificity and their social utility is thus based, at a time when public funding is always de…

Review of my paperback out: "The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0"

When we write books, it seems to take forever and yet, once published, it is amazing how quickly it disappears from our horizons as we move to the next project. The academic rat wheel I guess. So it is always a pleasant surprise to encounter a positive review of one's book, reminding one of all the energy and passion that went into the makings of the book.

My recently published book, The Leisure Commons: A Spatial History of Web 2.0  was reviewed for the Journal of Popular Culture by Kiranjeet Dhillon of University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Here is an excerpt: “Readers will value Arora’s argumentative advances from chapter to chapter. Arora thoroughly explains and articulates The Leisure Commons and appeals to a vast inter-disciplinary audience of media, rhetorical, visual culture, critical/culture studies, history, and geography scholars. In particular, media and rhetorical scholars will find that Arora’s metaphorical framework offers insight in regards to the digital public spher…

New Book Out! Crossroads in New Media, Identity and Law: The Shape of Diversity to Come

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After our highly interdisciplinary conference on The Shape of Diversity to Comeat Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2013 where we had a phenomenal line up of keynote speakers including Saskia Sassen, Julie Cohen, Chandran Kukathas, Jos de Mul, and Emmanuel Melissaris, we decided that we should have a book out that really takes on interdisciplinary thinking on this issue, exploring tensions as identity and law confront new media developments.

So we are proud to now share the volume publised by Palgrave called Crossroads in New Media, Identity and Law  The Shape of Diversity to Come. Here, you will find provocative chapters by Sassen, Cohen, Vermeylen, deMul, and more! 

In a nutshell, this volume brings together a number of timely contributions at the nexus of new media, politics and law. The central intuition that ties these essays together is that information and communication technology, cultural identity, and legal and political institutions are spheres that co-evolve and interpenetr…

Digital Crossroads Conference on Media, Migration & Diasporas in a Transnational Perspective

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I recently attended and presented at my first Netherlands conference at the University of Utrecht on Media, Migration and Diasporas in a Transnational Perspective. It dawned on me that after three years of being in the Netherlands, I've not actually attended a local conference until now. Partly its because I believed somehow that these linkages within and between universities in the Netherlands would happen organically since its such a densely knit and small country. Ironically, I believe now that because of these factors, these linkages are far weaker as the Dutch tend to reach out rather than within to build networks across Europe and beyond. So its not a coincidence that this 'local' conference was deeply international as it was the culmination of a grant project entitled “Wired Up: Digital media as innovative socialization practices for migrant youth”, carried out by the Faculty of Humanities (project leader Dr. Sandra Ponzanesi) and the Faculty of Social Sciences (pr…

Capitalizing on Contested Identities in this Digital Age

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I am currently at the West-Asia North Africa (WANA) Forum in Amman Jordan that is sponsored by the Nippon Foundation on the subject of Social Identity and the Regional Common. I spoke on the topic of "Capitalizing on Contested Identities in this Innovation and Digital Age" in the morning session on a panel that was comprised of some fascinating people listed below and Chaired by the Royal Highness El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan and Chairman of the WANA Forum.

Fredrick Chien, Chairman of the Cathay Charity Foundation, TaiwanMona Makram-Ebeid, Member of the Advisory Board to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, EgyptMunira Shahidi, Chair of the Shahidi International Foundation for Culture, TajikistanOmar Christidis, Founder of ArabNet, LebanonMunir Fasheh, Founder of The Arab Education Forum, Palestine All these panelists talked about aspects relating to how this region could experience transition and the role of identity in this process. Below are some of my thoughts that shap…

IDEAPLAY: New Media, Society & Change

Recently I was invited by the Department of Education at Michigan State University to give a public lecture and some interviews on how people learn to leisure and labor with new technologies in rural India. They did a wonderful job in capturing the interview through their multimedia portal IDEAPLAY, an excellent way to disseminate and share conversations that take place at this department. Below are the links for the interview:
IDEAPLAY: Payal Arora on New Media, Society and Change  PART 1 PART 2 PART 3
PART 4
PART 5
Learning to leisure and labor with new technologies in rural India
There is an intricate relationship between leisure, labor and learning. Much is revealed from eight-months of ethnographic fieldwork on computer-mediated social learning in rural India.  The role of educational institutions against informal learning spaces such as cybercafés in fostering digital engagements is explored. Issues of global knowledge constructions, plagiarism, and collaborative/peer based learning…

EUR fellowship grant 2012-2014 for the research proposal, “Virtual parks: Conceptualizing leisure spaces in the digital age”

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Dr. Payal Arora, a member of The Erasmus Centre of Media, Communication and Culture (ERMeCC) has received € 135,000 from the EUR fellowship grant scheme for 2012-2014 to study the conceptualizing of leisure spaces in the digital age. For the next two years, the recipient of this grant Dr Arora will be investigating how real and virtual leisure spaces can be comprehensively framed through a historical, transnational and cross-cultural lens. This project has also procured a book contract with the Studies in Science, Technology & Society Series of the Routledge/ Taylor & Francis Group. The forthcoming book will be published under the title, "Virtual and Real Leisure Spaces: A Comparative and Cross-Cultural Analysis." In essence, the early 20th century birthed a radical phenomenon across several cultures and nations- the demarcating of certain public space for primarily leisure purposes. From India to the United States, urban parks became a symbol of democracy, openness…

Does culture matter? Business practices across the Netherlands and Middle East

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A few months ago I was contacted by the Netherlands Institute of Beirut to see if I would be interested in talking about culture and business in the Middle East. This is part of their upcoming initiative to create bridges between the Middle East and the Netherlands, starting within an academic setting. Part of this commendable drive it seems to me is a response against this growing Islamophobia within Europe which is of course deeply troubling. What better way than to engage the youth across these borders in areas of common interest. I like the idea that instead of going there to be preachy about intercultural harmony and respect, that we choose a topic that the youth are genuinely engaged with and from there see how culture actually matters. So of course it’s of little surprise that the topic that youth in the Middle East seem to be interested in is that of business, social media and globalization. And for good reason. Like other young people across the globe, I believe they are mo…

When in India...swami style reflections in 2011

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I left India 16 years ago. With every annual visit back to my hometown, Bangalore, there is a new version of the past created. The past becomes highlighted when the present changes. And changes are aplenty. Roads are constantly being expanded with colossal pillars for the fast train emerging smack in the middle. The guts of Bangalore are being opened up for the NammaMetro, “our metro” fast train, designed to control and digest the 7 million strong city residents. There is constant talk of the “center” being moved, given the construction of luxury gated communities and IT parks along the outskirts of Whitefield to Hosur road, with the future rotating around the new airport shaped after much championing for a new global image for this hybrid city.

And hybrid city it is as 60% of the residents come from across the country and NRIs (Indians who settled in the West) are making their way back to etch their place in this perceived dynamic market and simultaneously be close to their aging par…