My work lies at the intersection of cybercultures/ digital and social media; anti-colonial and feminist scholarship; queer theory; and social research on war, nationalism and colonialism. My fields of geographic and thematic interest are broad and diverse: in the past, I have written on queer racisms in Israel-Palestine; on sexuality and class in Gulag historiography; and on digital horizons of racial, religious and sexual hatred in post-Soviet diaspora. My more recent work focused on digital politics, broadly defined, and included an exploration of feelings and emotions in digital cultures; a study of social media in the service of militarism and state violence (in collaboration with Rebecca L. Stein); and a project on the ambivalence of visibility in selfie-based activism across the world. The common thread in my work is my interest in (and my political commitment to unravel) the work of violence – its affective economy and its cultural imageries, its seductive power and its bargaining value. I am especially interested in political effects of living with violence as a perpetrator, a spectator, a bystander, or a complicit beneficiary. I am also interested in how everyday uses of digital technologies produces long lasting, contradictory, and unpredictable effects on individuals, communities and broader political changes, in particular in contexts where violence is expected, normalised or glorified.
In the last few years, my work has taken a new direction, towards a critical exploration of digital cultures and communication from two angles: (1) the right to not be included in digital data and sociality; and (2) the environmental tolls of digital communication.
The first exploration began as a collaborative project (with Esperanza Miyake) of what we coined 'digital disengagement' - a conscious reduction or rejection of the use of digital devices or communication platforms. In a series of short studies, we examined narratives and experiences of disconnection and refusal; the appropriation of disengagement initiatives by neo-liberal services and commercial digital initiatives; and the (im)possibility of opting out of digital health. Conceptually, we proposed to denaturalise digital engagement by placing refusal and opt out at the start of any critical conversation around digital culture and society. We arfued that while digital disengagement can be socially and politically transformative, the recent rise in initiatives such as 'digital detoxes' points to the profoundly unequal distribution of the luxury to disengage, where it emerges as a choice or even a right - but ony for some.We also argued that disengagement and opt out needs to be understood from the perspective of data justice and data rights, however in order to escape the neo-liberal trap of individualised responsibility and blame, those rights ought to be reformulated as collective rather than individual. Our latest article about the concept of digital disengagement is now out with Media, Culture and Society
The second exploration focuses on the materiality of digital data and communicaiton, and in particular, the environmental harms inflicted by the ever-growing extraction of resources needed to produce digital devices; the toxicity of e-waste; and the rapidly increasing energy demands of data centres, needed to sustain every click, website, database or 'smart' network. At the heart of this exploration lies a troubling question of the highest relevance to today’s global community: how to reconcile the usefulness of digitisation and its rapid and expansive adoption into environmental policies and sustainability projects, with the extensive environmental damages, brought on by the digitisation itself? Some of the key propositions for this project are now available in the open access article (with Imogen Rattle) which is now out with Environmental Communication. There, we propose a paradigmatic shift to consider the environmental unsustainability of digital communication. I further explore these topics in my new work, provisionally titled "from digital solutionism to materialist accountability".