Posts

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COLUMN Internet academic scams: why do scholars fall for them? The open access initiative, whilst being a worthwhile alternative to exploitative publishing models, has also opened the doors to bogus journals and other predators. https://www.erasmusmagazine.nl/en/2018/04/24/internetoplichting-in-de-wetenschappelijke-wereld-waarom-trappen-wetenschappers-erin/ Last year I received an email from someone who claimed to be part of a foundation that  tackles romance scams. It started like this: “To Dr Payal Arora, Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is X. I am also a victim of a cyber crime, a romance scam stemming from Nigeria. The reason I am contacting you is to bring attention to cyber crime, more specifically romance scams. Cyber exploits of this nature target mostly women, to lure them emotionally. Exploiting that vulnerability is what the con artists know best…As we speak, I am preparing for a trial to be heard in Abuja Nigeria…” What did this person want from me? She wanted m…

Opinion Piece: EM Magazine

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Look who’s talking! The burden of representationAs we trudge along in the line of scholarly duty, shall we dare to ask, who do we actually represent? Levien WillemsePayal Arora 17-04-20182 minute read Who do you represent when you write and speak? Even talking about yourself cannot be confined to your life, because people draw meaning from your lived experience in ways that are out of your control. This is the trade-off for listening. When you write, you filter reality. When you speak, you become a proxy for your ‘kind.’ It is natural to process the world through learnt cues.
When you are in a position of authority, what you say and do becomes ‘truth.’ Academics are in the business of making truth. There is much hubris involved in dedicating our lives to becoming the voice for the voiceless. During the colonial days, anthropologists were enlisted to unravel the mysteries behind the ‘exotic’ subjects in occupied regions of the world and filter these understandings in ways palatable to the…

Keynote talk at the University of Saltzburg

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I have been invited to deliver a keynote address for the Democracy and (Des-) Information Society: On the Function and Dissemination of Big Data, Fake News and Conspiracy Theories”Conference to be held at the University of Salzburg on April 26th, 2018. This conference investigates "fake news" and the growing influence of social media and search engine technologies on political life. Among other things, the conference will focus on the following questions: Which forms of disinformation exist and how do they differ? Is there actually a new quality of manipulation? What opportunities, challenges and limitations are associated with big data analysis? How do digital technologies and the practices they facilitate change the culture of communication and knowledge production in democratic societies? Which forms of foreign and self-regulation are meaningful and desirable in order to put a stop to disinformational tendencies but at the same time make use of progressive potentials of …

Opinion Piece: EM magazine

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COLUMN Going beyond the vagina dialogues ‘There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t support each other,’ argues Pip Jamieson, a female tech founder. But what is being supportive? My partner and I moved to a new apartment recently. We decided to have our neighbours over for drinks. One of them is a pregnant dentist. Over the course of the night, she confessed that she had gone part time. She immediately said that she was aware that too many Dutch women go part time and that that’s considered a problem, but she was happy. I could feel it was difficult for her to explain her situation. A week ago I was in New York for a conference. I met up with a good friend who was celebrating her promotion to Research Director with a top multinational architectural firm. She was in her late sixties and was feeling great. She spoke about how some of her clients had propositioned her. She said the flirting was all in good fun though and she would never trade that kind of banter for anything in …

Invited talks in Delhi, Manchester and Paris

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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 protecte…

Selected to be a ZeMKI Visiting Research Fellow

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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 Ze…
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COLUMN 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…