Faculty Research Projects

The Department of Media, Culture, and Communication is at the forefront of innovative scholarship in the areas of global media and culture, digital media and new technologies, media history, visual culture, sound studies, network studies, media institutions and industries, and political communication. 

OIKOS Working Group
Lily Chumley; Erica Robles-Anderson

Oikos is an interdisciplinary working group for the study of economics through the lenses of kinship, gender, and the ethics of care. Oikos invites scholars and students to discuss classic texts on the family and economy (from Aristotle and Xenophon to Confucius and Mencius), Victorian theories of domestic and economic spheres, and historical, ethnographic and sociological case studies of how gender and kinship structure circulations of value. Topics include financial products as tools of mediation between the household and financial industries; network marketing as corporate forms built on and through religious households; second-world women as managers of household wealth and investors in financial services; debt and accumulation as legal forms built around joint persons, from couples to families to corporations. [Twitter @oikos_ipk; Email]


How Media Ownership Matters
Rodney Benson

Working with co-authors Julie Sedel of the University of Strasbourg and Mattias Hesserus of Uppsala University, Rodney Benson is leading a three-country (Sweden, France, and the United States) comparative study of forms of media ownership. This project draws on extensive primary (in-depth interviews of top news managers and editors, analysis of industry data, content analysis) and secondary research. The project will culminate in the publication of the book, How Media Ownership Matters, under contract with Oxford University Press. The book first develops a typology of the ways in which owners/management teams exercise power over the newsroom and ultimately news content: business instrumentalism, political instrumentalism, audience adjustment, and public service orientation. The second stage links these “modes of ownership power” to variation at the levels of the national field of power, the specific organizational field with its own institutional logic, and the social location of the outlet’s audience.

The paper, Institutional Forms of Media Ownership and their Modes of Power, for a book-in-progress edited by Martin Eide, Leif Ove Larsen, and Helle Sjøvaag, provides a good overview of the project.

Center for Artistic Activism
Stephen Duncombe

The Center for Artistic Activism is a place to explore, analyze, and strengthen connections between social activism and artistic practice. Creative activism is more than just an innovative tactic, it is an entire approach: a perspective, a practice, a philosophy. The goal is to make more creative activists and more effective artists. Projects run by the CAA include the College of Tactical Culture, a think-tank of artists, activists, designers and attorneys funded by and held at the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology in the Summer of 2009, the School for Creative Activism, a training program for grassroots activists, funded by the Open Society Foundations, and the Art Action Academy, a workshop to help socially engaged artists become more politically efficacious.

Now! Visual Culture
Nicholas Mirzoeff

Now! Visual Culture at New York University is cross-disciplinary, cross-school, and cross-department, with a broad range of faculty and students exploring visual culture through diverse strategies and approaches. Visual culture is the interdisciplinary study of images across diverse media (such as photography, television, and film), new media (such as the Web and digital imaging), architecture, design, and art (including traditional media such as painting and sculpture as well as new multimedia art forms) across a range of social arenas, including news, art, science, advertising, and popular culture. It emphasizes the role of visual media in everyday life and the importance of visual media in the dissemination of ideas in the public sphere. Visual culture endeavors to create critical approaches to the convergence of war, economy, religion, the environment, technology, and other issues in globalized visual media.

Producing the "Public" in Arab Societies: Participation, Spaces, Media 
Helga Tawil Souri

The inaugural research program of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences focuses on important aspects of the public sphere in the Arab region and the ways in which the various social and political movements and upheavals across the region are transforming such spheres. 


Nicole Starosielski

Surfacing is an interactive digital cartography project that visualizes the cultural histories of undersea communications cables, the primary infrastructure supporting transoceanic internet traffic. The project enables its users to dive down through layers of photographs, drawings, and texts documenting the materiality, political conflicts, and historical formations of cable systems. It uses the Scalar platform and digital humanities methods to reveal the ways that cables are historically and spatially embedded, to create a visual literacy for material infrastructures, and to develop new approaches to creatively mapping cultural phenomena.

We Are All Children of Algeria
Nicholas Mirzoeff

This project uses the metaphor of the march to tell a story about revolution and decolonization in Algeria. It asks: how can we "see" Algeria, its decolonization and revolution? Following the lead of Frantz Fanon, We Are All Children of Algeria takes the point of view of the child, meaning both children as such, the colonized "child" of the parent nation, and the "infant" revolution that emerged. The Zapatistas say that everything they do is "walking," a journey that has no final destination. This walking is done here by means of text, media and to-camera videos. This format, allowing as it does for a set of intersecting and interfacing threads to compose the whole, is better suited to reclaiming and exploring these histories than the linear text-based narrative.

Whether or not you work "on" or about Algeria, there is an "Algeria" in your work

Open Utopia
Stephen Duncombe

This digital edition of Utopia is open: open to read, open to copying, open to modification. In partnership with The Institute for the Future of the Book Stephen Duncombe provides an annotatable and “social” text available for visitors to comment upon what More – or Duncombe – have written, and then share their comments with others. Those who like to listen will find a reading of Utopia on audio files, and those who want to watch and look can browse the user-generated galleries of Utopia-themed art and videos. For people interested in creating their own plan of an alternative society, Duncombe has created Wikitopia, a wiki with which to collaborate with others in drafting a new Utopia.

NYU Council for the Study of Disability
Faye Ginsburg; Mara Mills

The NYU Council for the Study of Disability was founded in 2007 with funding from the Provost’s Office and several deans. Its goals include: Identify and build the NYU community of those whose teaching and research address issues of disability; Increase awareness of disability on campus through the development of courses and public events with scholars, activists, artists, and filmmakers whose work is on the cutting edge of disability studies; Make the campus a more disability-friendly environment in terms of the built environment and availability of supports for students and faculty with disabilities; Collaborate with organizations and initiatives in New York City and beyond.

IpC: Interpersonal Communication Revisited
Lily Chumley; Erica Robles-Anderson

IpC is an interdisciplinary research program on interpersonal communication.  From face-to-face exchanges to mediated intersubjectivity, from computer-mediated communication to human-machine interactions, we study culture-in-practice, and social processes at the microscale. Interpersonal communication is key to research in anthropology, communication, critical theory, media studies, science and technology studies, semiotics, sociology and psychology. Theories of interpersonal communication bridge central concerns in the humanities and social sciences about languages, signs and symbols, experience, subjectivity, communion, and collective life. IpC supports lectures, conferences and courses on questions such as: how do interactions produce texts? How do rituals produce collective experience? What systems structure publics? What are the politics of attention? What are the varieties of communication, whether with humans, animals, machines, characters, or gods? What kind of power is fame?