Gabriella Coleman

Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

Gabriella Coleman

Phone: 212-992-7696

Curriculum Vitae/Syllabi

Trained as an anthropologist, Gabriella (Biella) Coleman examines the ethics of online collaboration/institutions as well as the role of the law and digital media  in sustaining various forms of political activism. Between 2001-2003 she conducted ethnographic research on computer hackers primarily in San Francisco, the Netherlands, as well as those hackers who work on the largest free software project, Debian.  Her first book, "Coding Freedom: The Aesthetics and the Ethics of Hacking" is forthcoming with Princeton University Press and she is currently working on a new book on Anonymous and digital activism. She is the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and awards, including ones from the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Institute for Advanced Study.

Degrees Held

  • B.A. Columbia University 1996
  • Ph.D. University of Chicago 2005
    Socio-Cultural Anthropology


  • 2009 : NYU Gabriel Carras Research Award for "Code is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers." Cultural Anthropology
  • 2006 : Sol Tax Dissertation Prize, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. Awarded for the dissertation that combines highest intellectual merit with relevance to Anthropology and action.
  • 2006 : Julien Mezey Dissertation Award. Association for the Study of Law, Culture and Humanities. Awarded for the dissertation that most promises to enrich and advance interdisciplinary scholarship at the intersection of law, culture, and the humanities.

Selected Publications

  • Our Weirdness Is Free, The logic of Anonymous—online army, agent of chaos, and seeker of justice. Triple Canopy, January 2012 (link)
  • Hacker Politics and Publics. Public Culture. Vol 23, No. 3, 511-516 (2011) (view)
  • "Anonymous: From the Lulz to Collective Action." Part of the "Politics in the Age of Secrecy and Transparency" Cluster (edited by Gabriella Coleman). The New Everyday (March 2011) (link)
  • Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls and the Politics of Transgression and Spectacle. In The Social Media Reader, ed. Michael Mandiberg. New York: NYU Press (forthcoming)
  • Ethnographic Approaches to Digital Media. Annual Review of Anthropology. 39: 1-16, (2010) (link)
  • Hacking In-Person: The Ritual Character of Conferences and the Distillation of a Life-World. Anthropological Quarterly, Winter (2010) (view)
  • Code is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers. Cultural Anthropology. 24(3): 420-454 (2009) (view)
  • Hacker Practice: Moral Genres and the Cultural Articulation of Liberalism. Anthropological Theory, Vol. 8, No. 3, 255-277 (2008) (with Alex Golub) (view)
  • The Politics of Rationality: Psychiatric Survivor's Challenge to Psychiatry. In Tactical Biopolitics. Kavita Phillip and Beatriz de Costa (editors). Cambridge: MIT Press (2008) (link)
  • Los Temps d'Indymedia. Multitudes. (21): 41-N48, May (2005) (link)
  • Indymedia's Independence: From Activist Media to Free Software (English Version of Los Temps d'Indymedia. Multitudes. (21): 41-N48, May (2005) (link)
  • The Social Production of Ethics in Debian and Free Software Communities. In Free and Open Source Software Development. Stefan Koch (ed.). Idea group, (2004) (with Mako Hill) (link)
  • The Political Agnosticism of Free and Open Source Software and the Inadvertent Politics of Contrast. Anthropology Quarterly. 77(03): 507-519, Summer (2004) (link)
  • How Free Became Open and Everything Else Under the Sun. M/C Journal: A Journal of Media and Culture, July (2004) (with Mako Hill) (link)


  • Politics of Digital Media (activism, piracy, commons, radical tech collectives)
  • Introduction to Human Culture and Communication
  • Technolgy, Media, and Society
  • The Culture and Politics of Computer Hacking

Research Interests

  • Computers, Hacking, Free and Open Source Software, and Trolling
  • Activism and the Internet
  • Psychiatry and Psychiatric Suvivors/Consumers/Peer to Peer patient activism
  • Technology and the Body