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Meet Members of the Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) Team
Henry Jenkins joined USC from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was Peter de Florez Professor in the Humanities. He directed MIT’s Comparative Media Studies graduate degree program from 1993-2009, setting an innovative research agenda during a time of fundamental change in communication, journalism and entertainment. As one of the first media scholars to chart the changing role of the audience in an environment of increasingly pervasive digital content, Jenkins has been at the forefront of understanding the effects of participatory media on society, politics and culture. His research gives key insights to the success of social-networking Web sites, networked computer games, online fan communities and other advocacy organizations, and emerging news media outlets. Jenkins has also played a central role in demonstrating the importance of new media technologies in educational settings. At MIT, he led a consortium of educators and business leaders promoting the educational benefits of computer games, and oversaw a research group working to help teach 21st century literacy skills to high school students through documentary videos. He also has worked closely with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to shape a media literacy program designed to explore the effects of participatory media on young people, and reveal potential new pathways for education through emerging digital media.
Gabriel Peters-Lazaro is assistant professor of the practice of cinematic arts in the Division of Media Arts + Practice at USC's School of Cinematic Arts. He researches, designs and produces digital media for innovative learning. As co-founder and PI of the Hypercinemas Research Group he investigates the continuities between emerging technologies of representation and the earliest experiments of cinema in order to transcend spectacle and achieve a material understanding of current tools and how they can support a critically engaged cinematic practice. He helped create The Junior AV Club, an action research project that explored mindful media making and sharing as powerful practices of early childhood learning. He teaches courses for undergraduate and graduate students dealing with critical media making and theory. He received his B.A. in Film Studies from UC Berkeley, completed his M.F.A in Film Directing and Production at UCLA and is a Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts + Practice.
Sangita Shresthova is the Director of the MacArthur funded Henry Jenkins’ Media, Activism & Participatory Politics (MAPP) project based at the University of Southern California. MAPP focuses on civic participation in the digital age and includes research, educator outreach, and partnerships with community groups and media organizations, and companies. Sangita's own scholarly work focuses on the intersections among popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures and MSc. degrees from MIT and LSE. Her book on Bollywood dance and globalization (Is It All About Hips?) was published by SAGE Publications in 2011. Drawing on her background in Indian dance and new media, she is also the founder of Bollynatyam’s Global Bollywood Dance Project. Her more recent research has focused on issues of storytelling and surveillance among American Muslim youth and the achievements and challenges faced by Invisible Children pre-and-post Kony2012. She is also one of the authors on By Any Media Necessary: The New Activism of Youth, a forthcoming book that will be published by NYU Press.
Karl Baumann is a digital artist, filmmaker, and scholar. His current work lies at the intersection of speculative design and community art. Working across cinema, games, and mobile media, his methodology is based on collaborative design and user participation that explores the future of civic engagement, urbanism, and networked technology. Karl holds an MFA in Digital Arts and New Media (DANM) from UC Santa Cruz. He is currently an Annenberg Fellow in the Media Arts + Practice (MAP) PhD program at the University of Southern California. Karl works with the World Building Media Lab (WBML), the Mobile and Environmental Media Lab (MEML), the Media, Activism, and Participatory Politics (MAPP) project, and the Annenberg Innovation Lab (AIL).
Samantha Close is a doctoral candidate in Communication at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include digital media, theory-practice, political economy, fan studies, gender, and race. She focuses particularly on labor and transforming models of creative industries and capitalism. Her documentary “I Am Handmade: Crafting in the Age of Computers,” based on her on-going dissertation work into the economic culture of crafting, is hosted online by Vice Media’s Motherboard channel. Her writing appears in the academic journalsFeminist Media Studies, Transformative Works and Cultures, and Anthropology Now as well as in more informal online spaces. You can find her on Twitter @butnocigar.
Yomna Elsayed is a PhD student at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. She is a research assistant for the MAPP project. Her research interests include the cultural productions and manifestations surrounding social change in the Arab World and Egypt in specific. She is also interested in online technologies and how they are appropriated by youth to overcome cultural and political barriers, and to engage in a process of public will formation at a time of social conflict.
Liana Gamber Thompson is a Program Associate at the National Writing Project (NWP), where she works on NWP’s Educator Innovator initiative, among other nation programs. She is also the Community Manager for Connected Learning TV. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) Project at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at USC, where her work focused on how youth engagement in participatory cultures, online networks, and new media leads to civic engagement more broadly. At USC, she also facilitated the Civic Paths graduate research group. Her work has appeared in journals such as Information, Communication, & Society, and Popular Music and & Society, and she has written widely for popular, online, and news publications. Her fields of interest include politics, popular culture, and gender and feminism. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology and Feminist Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is one of the authors of By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism (2016, NYU Press).
Neta Kligler-Vilenchik is Assistant Professor of Communication and Journalism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her work focuses on civic and political engagement in the context of the changing media environment, with a focus on young people. For several years, she was a member of the Media, Activism & Participatory Politics (MAPP) project, based at the University of Southern California, where her research examined the intersections between popular culture, fan communities and civic engagement. This work was the basis of her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Southern California. Neta has published work in leading communication journals, including New Media & Society, International Journal of Communication, Social Media + Society, and Computers in Human Behavior. She is one of the authors on By Any Media Necessary: The New Activism of Youth, a forthcoming book that will be published by NYU Press.
Diana Lee is a doctoral candidate at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism who researches the creation and circulation of mediated counter-narratives in response to racial microaggressions. Through multimedia visual culture and storytelling resistance practices, she explores how these networked participatory cultures aim to collectively process, speak back to, or educate about racial microaggressions and their layered, cumulative effects. She is particularly interested in the potential healing and empowering impact of participating in these resistance practices for those who frequently navigate microaggressions in their everyday lives, and how these kinds of engagement can be utilized and fostered for education in other contexts of learning. Before doctoral studies, Diana worked in education research and evaluation, afterschool programming and development, and on several mixed-methods research projects in education, psychology, mental health, immigration, youth culture, media literacy, and communication. Diana holds a B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley, an Ed.M. in Learning and Teaching from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication from NYU.
Alexandra Margolin is the Project Manager for the Mellon Funded Digital Humanities Initiative at the Claremont Colleges. She comes from a background in Ethnic Studies, non-profit project management, and grassroots media production having spent the last 6 years working on non-profit and higher education grants. Prior to joining Claremont's Digital Humanities team, Alex served as the Program Specialist for the Media Activism & Participatory Politics (MAPP) project at USC which examined participatory models of youth activism and was responsible for the project's outward facing programming with activists and educators. She received her B.A. in history from Pitzer College and an M.A. in Asian American Studies from UCLA. Her research interests include: social constructions of multiraciality through foodways, social justice learning, and alternative modes of storytelling.
Raffi Sarkissian is a doctoral candidate in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. His academic scholarship investigates queer politics and ambivalence in popular LGBT media culture and digital publics, including representation and reception for award shows, grassroots media activism for Proposition 8, and online campaigns like It Gets Better and the red equal sign. His research also encompasses the study of celebrity and the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in film, television, and digital culture. Raffi has presented conference papers at SCMS, NCA, ICA, Console-ing Passions, and PCA. He has published in “Spectator” and has a book chapter on the television show Glee in the edited volume Queer Youth Cultures. He has won scholarships and awards from the USC Lambda Alumni Association, the UCLA LGBT Center, and serves as the President of the Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society.
Arely Zimmerman is Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at Mills College in Oakland, CA. Previous appointments include a Mellon postdoctoral fellowship in social movements at the University of Southern California, and a faculty fellowship at New York University in the department of social and cultural analysis. As an interdisciplinary and community-engaged scholar, Arely's work is situated at the intersection of Latino/a and Latin American politics. Her research focuses on unauthorized citizenship and the political becoming of undocumented migrants. Her current projects include a book manuscript, Contentious Citizenship: Central Americans and the Politics of Belonging across Borders, which grounds citizenship theory in the experiences of transnational activism and forms of resistance of Central American refugees in the United States. Other projects deal with similar themes including the political mobilization of undocumented youth and the cultural politics of Latino/as social movements. Some of this work will be published in a forthcoming co-authored book with Henry Jenkins entitled, By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics. She holds a B.A. and Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, with emphasis in political theory.