I am still unable to decide whether I should focus on intellectual pursuits and research, creative arts or simply spend time in the remote mountains. This website was created to consolidate all the different elements in one place.
On the research/academic side, I work at the intersection of digital anthropology, philosophy and data science. I am currently a Lecturer in Global Digital Media at the SOAS, University of London. For the past 15 years, I have focused on developing comparative research approaches for understanding global digital cultures and media. This has included, among other things, work on international news flows and blogging in India, mobile technology in Africa, critical-comparative perspectives to social media and conflict, online extremism and hate speech, as well as exploring and developing new methods in “big data” analysis and artificial intelligence for digital media research. I finished my MA and PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, where I was also a Senior Teaching Fellow (2006-2009) an AHRC-funded Post-Doctorate Research Fellow (2013). I also worked as a Researcher for the Programme for Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCLMP), at the University of Oxford, on two landmark projects mapping online debates, hate speech and political conflict in Ethiopia (2013-2016). I have also been a Research Fellow (2015-2016) for the VOX-Pol Network of Excellence, a European academic network focused on researching the prevalence, contours, functions, and impacts of violent online political extremism and responses to it, and a Visiting Research Fellow (2017) at the Centre for Media and Communication (ZeMKI), at the University of Bremen. On the more applied side of research, I also worked as a Senior Researcher (2016-2017) for Africa’s Voices Foundation (AVF), a not-for-profit research organisation launched out of University of Cambridge dedicated to developing innovative research methods for the hard-to-reach populations in Africa.
On a more artistic side, I have been involved in a number of award-winning experimental art projects. In 2010, I worked as a visiting artist for Sounds Like Graffiti, a project combining locative media, mobile phones and community theatre among disadvantaged youth in Bradford, UK. In 2011, I worked as a visiting artist for Intergenerational Jukebox, a community art project in North London, which combined musical theatre, digital arts and oral histories among the South Asian diaspora. I have also co-directed three experimental documentaries: Elephantasma (2005), Don’t Cut My Head Off (2010), and What is the White Matter? (2011). In 2013, I crowdfunded Injera Westerns, a digital storytelling project, which collected oral histories of people who lived in Ethiopia during the civil war and famine in the 1980s. As a part of this project, I organised a 22-day walk through remote Ethiopian highlands visiting areas most affected by these tragic events. The outcome of this project was a book “Injera Westerns: Bedtime Stories for the Masses” and a mountain of material I am still working on to make public.
I am currently exploring the possibilities of using AI and data, and especially generative AI such as General Adversarial Networks (GAN), for new forms of philosophical and artistic expression.