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Hello! I’m Asvatha.

I’m a PhD student at the School of Communication at American University, Washington, DC. I am fascinated by our obsession with “tech”. Humans have always been captivated by cutting-edge technologies (I’m sure our ancestors who figured out how to harness fires were just as reverential as those who figured out how to harness radio waves for communication). Technology can be amazing. However, an uncritical appreciation of emerging technologies as revolutionary and liberating can be dangerous and misleading, particularly for the most vulnerable populations in the world. It distracts us from asking important questions about how these technologies are constructed (technically and culturally) and why they are constructed that way, how these technologies come to be enmeshed in our existing socio-political systems, and how they often consolidate social, political, cultural, and economic power in the hands of a few elite.

I am currently working on my dissertation examining these questions as they pertain to the deployment of facial recognition technology for surveillance in Chennai, India.

Photo shows a smiling Indian woman.

Black and white image of Indian lawyer and dalit leader Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

“Democracy is not merely a form of government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards one’s fellow men.”

— Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar