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I AM A GLOBETROTTING PUBLIC INTELLECTUAL, RESEARCHER, WRITER, AND DIGITAL DESIGNER. BASED IN PORTLAND, OREGON, I APPLY THE INSIGHTS I'VE GAINED THROUGH MY WORK AS A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR AND RESEARCHER TO ADVOCATE FOR GLOBAL INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY IN TECH.

Gender and Globalization

Gender and Globalization

This project addresses both the question of the “digital divide”—or the uneven global availability of technologies and expertise—and the importance of local practices ofdigital communication, creativity and media-making as they work for young people throughout the African continent. In the age of digital globalization, African modes of self-empowerment, including trade, cultural creativity, and entrepreneurship, rely on digital media. Emerging African digital engagements include blogs about personal and community experiences, grassroots business websites, digital music and film production, mobile app development, and “off-label” engagements with social media that allow young people to organize political, cultural and economic movements. These new developments promise important resources for globally marginalized media producers (and potential media producers). As analog, localized, and immobile media become increasingly outmoded by digital technologies, global media practices become increasingly dependent on digital expertise. Africans answer to this emergent need through formal state, private and NGO training programs, computer science graduate programs abroad, and apprenticeship with local media makers. These methods are most accessible to those with the highest degree of social mobility, particularly those with access to expensive computers and software, foreign language training, and educational and/or work visas. For many African women and girls, these methods are out of reach. Despite this “digital divide,” however, African women and youth engage digital media through informal networks and self-training, often making-do with outdated or secondhand equipment.

The exceptional digital innovation and pragmatism of African girls and young women is being documented by researchers of contemporary African culture. The fields of media anthropology, sociology, communication studies, and African feminist studies are beginning to turn their attention to the ways in which globally marginalized media producers empower themselves through creative engagements with digital media. Women entrepreneurs, arts practitioners, activists, storytellers, and leaders all stand to benefit from access to these technologies. At the same time, few digital resources are currently available to these media producers. The need for more research on the digital engagement of African women and youth is clear: in order to build platforms, set discourses, develop applications, and open access to these populations, we must both understand how these groups use digital media, and provide digital resources by which they can launch their work. 

Women Who Rock

Women Who Rock

Curriculum Design

Curriculum Design