"The Centre is intended to supplement the present departments or their courses of instruction leading to degrees. It will foster a dialogue between the departments, the faculties, the Library and the Administration, in matters relating to cultural change resulting from technological innovation."

Marshall McLuhan (Draft Constitution, 1965)

2020-22 Theme
GS logo 2020-22.png

Our 2020/21 theme continues into 2021/22: The Global SpillAge, takes inspiration from Marshall McLuhan's notion of the Global Village. This year our research will focus on the unfortunate effects of connection but also the new relations and possibilities for social change; in particular the technological and political dimensions related to anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism and the global COVID-19 pandemic. Our working groups will engage the challenges of the contemporary moment while drawing from the spirit of McLuhan's attention to the medium.


A primary mode of research at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology is the support of interdisciplinary working groups whose novel approaches to culture and technology are appropriate to the challenges of the moment while drawing from the spirit of McLuhan’s attention to the medium. Working groups consist of faculty and graduate students across the University of Toronto and are funded for up to one year to engage symposia, performances, installations, lecture series, workshops, writing retreats, and other public events. The working groups also work in consultation with the Director, Professor Sarah Sharma, to run a Monday Night Seminar.

working groups


Working Groups for Fall 2020 - Spring 2022

Space Media

Lead Convenor: Marie-Pier Boucher [Assistant Professor, ICCIT, UTM]

Members: Tero Karppi [Assistant Professor, ICCIT + Faculty of Information], Jeremy Packer [Associate Professor, ICCIT + Faculty of Information], Réka Patrícia Gál [PhD student, Faculty of Information], Lee Wilkins [PhD student, Faculty of Information], Yolanda Zhang [PhD student, Faculty of Information]

While space exploration mediates how societies envision their future, space exploration would not be possible without media. Humanity’s relationship with the cosmos is one mediated by artifacts and technologies: Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) for communication, health and environmental monitoring/planning; Geo Positioning Satellite (GPS) for navigation; and various other tools and devices that transport bodies and goods, process information, and visualize new planetary frontiers. Outer space is a site of both potential inhabitation and politics in which medium design plays a crucial role.

This group explores the relationship between media and space, with a specific focus on the technological, political, anthropological and cultural dimensions of space and its media infrastructures. Members will engage with scientists, engineers, artists, astronauts and other members of the space community to produce a series of tele-dialogues that confront and contrast the field of “space media” to problematize and reveal its constructive power of intervention. The group will also work on the production of a literature review and glossary, both of which will be published on a public-facing website. Finally, members plan on using the research conducted under these 15 months to produce a peer-reviewed article and publication which sets the foundations for their proposed new field of ‘space media’ within media theory.

Invisible Photographies

Lead Convenor:  Thy Phu [Professor, Dept. of Arts, Culture & Media, UTSC]

Members: Jordan Bear [Associate Professor, Art History, UTSG], Jordache Ellapan [Assistant Professor, Historical Studies, UTM], Elspeth Brown [Professor,Historical Studies, UTM], Deepali Dewan [Associate Professor, Art History, UTSG], Evie Gu [Associate Professor, ACM, UTSC], Thy Phu [Professor, ACM, UTSC], Drew Thompson [School of Image Arts, Ryerson], Kaia Jorgensen [PhD student, Art History, UTSG], Victoria Abel [PhD student, Faculty of Information], Marina Dumont-Gauthier [PhD candidate, Art History, UTSG], Lynn Ly [PhD student, WGSI, UTSG], Michèle Pearson Clarke [Artist-in-Residence, Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, UofT]

While photography holds the promise of making the unknown known, the faraway nearby, and the unseen visible, the right not to be looked at—to remain invisible—matters as much as the right to look. Invisibility remains a potent, though overlooked, part of debates on power and media. In the digital era, invisibility is deployed as a strategy of resistance against and refusal of various forms of state and corporate surveillance.
In the wake of the pandemic and global uprisings against racial injustice, the issue of invisibility and its relationship with power and media has acquired renewed urgency. “Invisible Photographies” is an interdisciplinary working group that explores the varied forms and functions of invisibility in photography. What is the significance of invisibility? How has invisibility been mobilized to shape historical perspectives? To what extent might it serve the needs of the present, and how can it be used to imagine better futures? To answer these questions, the group draws from backgrounds in media studies, women, gender, and sexuality studies, curation, history and art history. The group aims to challenge predominantly Euro-American frameworks of seeing in photography, and to illustrate other ways of seeing—particularly as they have shaped race and sexuality in the Global South and across diasporic communities. 
Activities include: (i) readings; (ii) webinar speaker series; (iii) workshopping works-in-progress; (iv) commissioning new artwork; and (v) a special issue of the open access peer-reviewed journal, Trans Asia Photography.

Media Through China / China Through Media

Lead Convenors: Julie Yujie Chen [Assistant Professor, ICCIT, UTM], Yi Gu [Associate Professor and Program Director, Dept. of Arts, Culture & Media, UTSC]

Members: Ruoyun Bai [Department of Arts, Culture and Media, UTSC], Sibo Chen [School of Professional Communication, Ryerson University]; Lianrui Jia [Department of Arts, Culture and Media, UTSC], Tong Lam [Department of Historical Studies, UTM; the Asian Institute, UofT]; Yifan Li [Department of Sociology, UofT]; Cary Wu [Department of Sociology, York University]; Yolanda Zhang [School of Information, University of Toronto]; Miaoran Dong [Journalism & Communication, Carleton University]; Anup Grewal [UofT]; Xiaofei Han [Communication & Media Studies, Carleton University]; Lianrui Jia; Tony Lam [UofT]; Tracy Ying Zhang [Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Carleton University]

In today’s “Global Village”, China shares with the rest of the world the social and economic transformations precipitated by the integration of various technological infrastructures. But at the same time, what is known as “the Great Firewall”—the rules and technologies that control the flow of information in China’s digital spaces and mediascapes—leads to an easy dismissal of digital China as an Other with little applicability to the rest of the world.
This Wall, however, is porous and full of contradictions. Importantly, the daily life and cultural expressions within/through the Wall defy our common understanding of US- and Euro-centric media experiences. They are demonstrative of both the pitfalls and possibilities of our global Spillage, which calls for nuanced and intersectional approaches toward studying China through media, and media through China.
Taking the Wall as a point of departure, the group aims to advance interdisciplinary conversations on the studies of China and its mediascapes. Members will confront the questions surrounding China, capitalism, nationalism, and media technology through theme-based workshops and a symposium.



INTERVIEW: Media Studies through China / China Studies through Media with Yi Gu and Julie Chen

Envisioning Equiveillance

Lead Convenor: Steve Mann (Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering, UTSG)

Members: Rhonda McEwen [Associate Professor, ICCIT, Faculty of Information], David Naylor [Professor, Faculty of Medicine], John Griffiths [Psychaitry, CAMH], Beth Coleman [Associate Professor, ICCIT, Faculty of information], Kristen Bos [Assistant Professor, Indigenous Science and Technology Studies, UTM; Co-Director, Technoscience Research Unit], Amir Adnan Ali [Faculty of Engineering]

The word “surveillance” means “watching” (“veillance”) from “above” (“sur”). Surveillance typically involves an entity of higher authority monitoring an entity of lower authority, for example the powerful watching the vulnerable. This working group considers the contrasting dynamics of surveillance and sousveillance (from the French prefix “sous”, meaning “under”), to imagine a fair and just “equi-veillance” that can be applied to the design of smart cities, healthcare, and other sensory infrastructures that are worn, carried, or embedded in the architecture and cities around us.
With the “covidization” of surveillance, i.e. “health-surveillance” as the “new normal”, we need a language, practice, culture, and technology for sousveillance as a form of health and well-being. Accordingly, this working group will focus on the development of ideas, policy, technology, artistic works, and cultural discourse to promote veillance equity that meets the growing needs of fair universal health and well-being for humans of all abilities.
Members will explore these themes through published papers, the production of a sousveillant mesh network, workshops, and the production of an educational video entitled “Culture and Technology of equi-veillance”


INTERVIEW: Envisioning Equiveillance with Steve Mann

Black Technoscience "Here": A Special Issue

Lead Convenors: Nicole Charles (Assistant Professor, Women and Gender Studies Program, UTM), OmiSoore Dryden (Associate Professor, JRJ Chair in Black Canadian Studies, Dept. of Community Health & Epidemiology, Dalhouse University)

The Black Technoscience “HERE” Working Group expands on the research and salon series of the same name produced during the 2018-19 year to produce a special issue publication. In monthly meetings over the academic year, group members brought together scholars, artists, and activists to share their research and praxis in the interdisciplinary creation of Black Technoscience. This year the Black Technoscience working group is working on a special issue to connect the fields of Black studies, transnational feminist studies, digital humanities, critical race and disability studies and science and technology studies, to offer new approaches to both Blackness and Technoscience. The special issue will reflect on the uniqueness of Black technoscience within Canada. What is Black technoscience? What does it mean, we question, to activate Black technoscience thought “here”? More details and links to submit here.

The Only Space is Here

Lead Convenor: Mitchell Akiyama [Assistant Professor, John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, UTSG]

Members: Ishtiaque Ahmed [Assistant Professor, Computer Science], Maria Yablonina [Assistant Professor, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design], Cait McKinney [Assistant Professor, SFU School of Communication], Adam Tindale [Associate Professor, Digital Futures, OCAD University], Matthew Nish-Lapidus [Masters Student, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design], Sophia Oppel [Masters Student, Daniels Faculty of Landscape, Architecture and Design], Talia Golland [Masters Student, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design], Eli Kerr [Masters Student, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design]

As social life slammed to a standstill during the COVID-19 lockdown, staring anxiously at our screens, many of us found ourselves wondering, where is everything? Art institutions pivoted by putting exhibitions online, concerts were streamed via video conference, family gatherings and personal milestones were all relegated to monitors of various sizes—for those of us fortunate to have stable Internet access and devices capable of streaming our likenesses out onto others' screens.
The group's goal is to explore what the migration of social space online entails for the politics of information privacy, as well as for one’s sense of embodied presence in the world. The urgent question members ask is: what technologies, what forms of social organizing, what forms of aesthetics are capable of meeting this moment? How do we move from hastily accepting digital facsimiles of in-person social practices and build or amend digital spaces that might foster community in the shadows of corporate platforms?

Co-Saloning: Experimenting With and Against Digital Gathering

Lead Convenor: Kristen Bos [Assistant Professor, Indigenous Science and Technology Studies, UTM; Co-Director, Technoscience Research Unit]

Members: Michelle Murphy [Professor, History/WGSI/Technoscience Research Unit], T.L. Cowan [Assistant Professor, Dept. of Arts, Culture & Media, UTSC], Jasmine Rault [Assistant professor, Dept of Arts, Culture & Media, UTSC], Sajdeep Somal [PhD Student, Dept. of History], Lindsay LeBlanc [PhD Student, WGSI], Vanbasten de Araújo [PhD Student, WGSI], Subhanya Sivajothy [MI Student, Technoscience Research Unit, Faculty of Information], Nasma Ahmed [Digital Justice Lab], Fernanda Yanchapaxi [PhD Student, OISE], Aljumaine Gayle [Intersect TO]

This year’s working group takes the practice of saloning as its conceptual starting point to interrogate decolonial, feminist and anti-capitalist forms, methods and practices of relation, collaboration and co-creation in the time of social distancing.
Emerging out of 18th century France, salon culture was a critical catalyst for the cultural, intellectual and cultural developments that characterized the Enlightenment Era. Various communities have taken up, reconstituted and reimagined the salon in the name of other political projects: feminism, anti-racism, decolonization. Both the Technoscience Research Unit (TRU) and the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC) have experimented with the form of the salon, protocols of invitation and hosting, and modes of stirring-up conversation. For example, the Technoscience Salon activates two “stirrers,” often graduate students to contribute to, guide and animate our salons.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the rush towards digital gathering, engagement and output across all disciplines and sectors, this year's group will bring together faculty, graduate students, and community researchers to:

  • Research the economies of extraction and investment that we entangle ourselves within and through various digital practices of collaboration;

  • Gather information about alternative methods and forms of collaboration; and

  • Experiment with new approaches to distanced and virtual collaboration through our upcoming activities.


Members will engage with this through regular salon events, held in collaboration with the Technoscience Research Unit (TRU).


Digital Afterlives: Feminist Emergent and Emergency Methods and Action on Data (FEEMAD)

Lead Convenor: T.L. Cowan [Assistant Professor, Dept. of Arts, Culture & Media, UTSC]

Members: Tonia Sutherland [University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Information & Computer Sciences], Jasmine Rault [Assistant Professor, Dept. of Arts, Culture & Media, UTSC], Jennifer Wemigwans [Assistant Professor, Dept. of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, OISE]

This group will bring the Feminist Data Manifest-No Workshop (FDMW) to the McLuhan Centre. The Feminist Data Manifest-No (manifestno.com) is a set of refusals and commitments written collectively by feminist data scholars across disciplines in the US and Canada. This reimagining of our understanding of and relationship with data considers, in particular, the afterlives of data and the traces of networked existence.
The group will co-host a symposium at UofT on Coalitional Trans-Feminist and Queer Black and Indigenous Digital Afterlives, thinking particularly about the Digital Afterlives of COVID-19 in terms of impact on minoritized groups and pandemic-influenced increases in compulsory data collection & circulation practices. Planned initiatives include regular online writing retreat sessions, an online Long Table conversation each semester, and the possibility of a symposium (pending new COVID-19 developments).

Critical Studies in Race, Technology and Global Migration

Lead Convenor: Negin Dahya [Assistant Professor, ICCIT, UTM]

Members: Cosmin Munteanu [Assistant Professor, ICCIT, UTM], Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed [Assistant Professor, Computer Science], Nehal El-Hadi [Visiting Scholar, The City Institute, York University], Dina Sabie [PhD Student, Computer Science], Amna Liaquat [PhD Student, Computer Science], Cansu Ekmekcioglu [PhD Student, Faculty of Information]

Currently, the attention of the public in media, government, humanitarian aid and corporate philanthropy is largely centered on using technology to support learning and community engagement in the Global South. As researchers, educators, activists, and technologists work to understand the challenges and possibilities of using technology and digital media to support the worlds most marginalized communities over there, the role of digital tools and practices for migratory and minoritizied communities here is sometimes overlooked. In this working group, members intentionally frame the division of “us” in the West and “them” in the developing world. This framing calls attention to the subtle and harmful forces of power related to participation in technology and digital media among people in Canada who have experienced migration. The group's goals are to connect with and convene scholars, activists and educators working in Southern Ontario and across Canada in this area and to set an agenda for key research areas related to race, technology, and global migration in Canada.

Members will collaborate with community members at the centre of this topic through research and media-making workshops to produce collaborative mixed media projects hosted online.

Reprising the Real World of Technology

Lead Convenor: Leslie Shade [Professor, Faculty of Information, UTSG; Senior Fellow Massey College; Faculty Affiliate, Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society]

Members: Leslie Chan [Associate Professor, Centre for Critical Development Studies, UTSC], Peter Pennefather [Professor Emeritus, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy], Sara Grimes [Associate Professor, Director of the Knowledge Media Design Institute, Faculty of Information], Monica Jean Henderson [PhD Student, Faculty of Information], Katie Mackinnon [PhD Candidate, Faculty of Information], Saman Goudarzi [MI Student (UXD), Faculty of Information], Yasmin Macdowell [MI '21, Faculty of Information], Stephanie Fielding [MI' 20, Faculty of Information, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Digital Design + Digital Transformation Service Sector], Kanishka Sikri [B.A. Hons '21, International and Critical Development Studies; Incoming PhD Student, York U]

It has been thirty years ago since Ursula Franklin (first woman University Professor at the University of Toronto) delivered the 1989 CBC Massey Lectures, The Real World of Technology, and twenty years since its expanded version was published. Describing technology as practice and as a system, Franklin encouraged us to examine the social class of experts, the changing nature of community and issues of power and control. She argued for attentiveness about how digital technologies affect relations of time and space, individual and collective responsibilities, and provided a bridge between the humanist traditions of early 20th century Europe and the technological explosion that began after WWII and the defeat of Fascism that continues to echo today.
This working group will examine the intellectual legacy of Franklin and her pioneering feminist/person-centred perspectives on technology and how the themes and concerns she addressed throughout her career map onto contemporary scholarly endeavours at the University of Toronto surrounding technology and society. The group will apply a ‘Franklin-esque’ reading to issues and ethics redolent in contemporary ‘innovative’ and ‘disruptive’ technologies of datafication, algorithms and AI. What is their impact on data discrimination, privacy, social justice, resilient communities, and equity, inclusion, and diversity?

Intended outputs include a short essay series with works composed by working group members and collaborators, a website, and an end of year seminar (pending COVID-19 developments).


You're Deactivated

Lead Convenors: Alessandro Delfanti [Assistant Professor, ICCIT, UTM], Julie Yujie Chen [Assistant Professor, ICCIT, UTM]

Extended from 2017, You’re Deactivated focuses on the message of the Platform and how workers resist the casualized and precarious work conditions of the digital economy by repurposing, hacking, or refusing platform labour. While technology intensifies work, it is constantly met with resistance from workers. Yet, while the platform may be today’s assembly line, only recently has research in media studies started to focus on workers in the digital economy as active subjects that challenge the patterns shaped by the platform as they unionize, or organize to fight for improved conditions, higher wages, predictable scheduling, and better benefits.
Instead of going online with LogOut 2, the group is working on a special issue publication based on the papers accepted from their planned March 2020 conference (cancelled due to COVID-19).

We Can Rebuild You: The Automation and Erasure of Essential Workers

Lead Convenors: Olivia Dogget (PhD Student, Faculty of Information), Mathew Iantorno (PhD Student, Faculty of Information)

Members: Julie Yujie Chen [Assistant Professor, ICCIT, UTM], Priyank Chandra [Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information], Kamilah Ebrahim [MI Student, Faculty of Information], Daniel Guadagnolo [Assistant Professor, ICCIT)], Patrick Keilty [Associate Professor, Faculty of Information], Laura Lam [PhD Student, Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources], Maggie MacDonald [PhD Student, Faculty of Information], Julian Posada [PhD Student, Faculty of Information], Matt Ratto [Associate Professor, Faculty of Information], Lai-Tze Fan [Assistant Professor, English Language and Literature, University of Waterloo]

The aim of this working group is to analyze the automation of essential labourers. From the introduction of the robotic arm on the factory floor to modern data-driven agricultural startups, corporations have long sought to excise the human element from manual labour. Even vocations predicated on empathetic domains of knowledge, such as nursing and caregiving, have been rendered vulnerable to replacement by ever more nimble automata and artificial intelligence. Yet as narratives of innovation and convenience are pushed by Silicon Valley, they clash with practical questions of long-term and large-scale scalability and Asimovian anxieties of technology gone too far. Against this backdrop, it is imperative to examine whose livelihoods are being erased by machines and why the human element of labour is often deemed superfluous.


Applying a sociohistorical perspective, we will examine how the devaluation of labourers has persisted for centuries, focusing on four major spheres of labour: agriculture, caregiving, sex work, and transportation. By exploring broader histories of labour movements, antebellum slavery, and women’s rights, attendance will be paid to how roles deemed “prone to automation” have been disproportionately filled by minority groups, women, and temporary foreign workers (largely hailing from the Global South). Through these case studies, we will explore how algorithms and automata are simply new tools in ongoing, parallel campaigns to render these paraprofessional labourers invisible despite their essentiality.

Intended outpouts include a monthly reading group, speaker series, CHI workshop proposal, a special open-access journal issue, and a roundtable workshop for the 2022 Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) annual meeting.


Reprising the Real World of Technology [Leslie Regan Shade, Professor, Faculty of Information]

Sonic Spaces [Brady Peters, Daniels Faculty, Architecture; Charles Stankievech, Daniels Faculty, Visual Studies; Lilian Radovac, UTSC, ICCIT; Liora Belford, Art History; Joseph Clarke, Art History; Lewis Kaye, Arts, Culture & Media, UTSC]

The Consent and Its Discontents [Kristen Bos, Technoscience Research Unit, Dept of Anthropology; Michelle Murphy, History/WSGI/Technoscience Research Unit; T.L. Cowan, UTSC; Patrick Keilty, Faculty of Information; Jasmine Rault, ICCIT, UTM; Fernanda Yanchapaxi, OISE; Subhanya Sivajothy, Faculty of Information; Aljumaine Gayle, Intersect TO; Sajdeep Somal, South Asian Visual Arts Centre; Nasma Ahmed, Digital Justice Lab]

Race, Media and Global Migration: Critical Studies in Contemporary Digital Media [Negin Dahya, Assistant Professor, ICCIT UTM, Faculty of Information UTSG; Neda Maghbouleh, Assistant Professor, Sociology, UTM; Nehal El-Hadi, Visiting Scholar, The City Institute, York University]

You're Deactivated [Julie Chen, Assistant Professor, ICCIT UTM; Alessandro Delfanti, Assistant Professor, New Media, ICCIT UTM]

Digital Islamophobia [Zeinab Farokhi, University of Toronto; Tanner Mirlees, University of Ontario Technology; Yasmin Jiwani, Concordia University; Megan Boler, University of Toronto OISE; Victoria Tahmesebi, University of Toronto]

6Place Toronto [Petros Babasikas, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Land and Design]

The Global South Feminist Media & Archives School [Carina Guzmán, Chido Muchemwa, Mariam Karim, Jamila Ghaddar, Henria Aton, Faculty of Information PhD Students]


Black Technoscience "Here" [Nicole Charles, Assistant Professor, Women and Gender Studies, Department of Historical Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga]

Illegible Media [Karen Dewart McEwen, Jessica Lapp, Rebecca Noone, Rianka Singh, Faculty of Information PhD Students]

Affect, Propaganda and Political Imagination [Megan Boler, Full Professor and Acting Chair, Social Justice Education Department, OISE/University of Toronto]

What is Left for Humans? [Tero Karppi, Assistant Professor ICCIT, University of Toronto Mississauga]

Digital Islamophobia [Victoria Tahmasebi, Assistant Professor of Women and Gender Studies in the Department of Historial Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga and Women and Gender Studies Institute UTSG; Zeinab Farokhi, PhD Student WGSI]

Advancing "App Studies" [David Nieborg, Assistant Professor of Media Studies, Department of Arts, Culture and Media UTSC]

6 Place Toronto [Petros Babasikas, Assistant Professor, Daniels Faculty of Architecture]

You're Deactivated [Alessandro Delfanti, Assistant Professor New Media, ICCIT]


You're Deactivated [Alessandro Delfanti, Assistant Professor New Media, ICCIT]

Queer Digitality [Patrick Keilty, Associate Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto]

Refusal and Repair: Decolonial Feminist Technoscience Tactics [Michelle Murphy, Professor in the History Department and Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto, Director of the Techoscience Research Unit]

In 2020-21 we introduced our inaugural cohort of graduate reading groups who engaged with the works of contemporary media scholars to explore questions surrounding race, power, inequity, and the impacts of emerging virtual spaces in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

graduate reading groups

Graduate Reading Groups for 2020/21

The Ends of the Worlds

Lead Convenor: Réka Gál [PhD Student, Faculty of Information]

Members: Blair Frost, Arun Jacob, Brendan Smith, Yolanda Zhang [PhD Students, Faculty of Information]

The Ends of the Worlds reading group critically engages with the narratives of apocalyptic conflict and technoscientific salvation that prevail in white masculine futurologies of existential risk, survivalism, and transhumanism. The reading group contrasts these perspectives with historicities that resist framing “the end of the world” as an unprecedented apocalyptic condition separate from histories of dispossession, by focusing on scenarios which have already produced apocalyptic conditions for groups whose perspectives have been systematically ignored within the “end of mankind” framework: regional wars, genocides, ecological collapses, algorithmic oppression of BIPOC communities, as well as the disproportionate impacts of pandemics on queer and BIPOC communities.


The End of Man: A Feminist Counterapocalypse (Joanna Zylinska)

Racism Gone Viral: Racist Design, Social Media, and COVID-19

Lead Convenor: Alex Desplanque [MI Student (UXD), Faculty of Information]

Members: Lily Shaddick, Adrian Petterson, Veronica Rutherford [MI Students (UXD), Faculty of Information]

Drawing from the double meaning of "virality" in both digital and medical contexts, this group focuses on the intersections of race, social media, and the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first semester, members will look at how visually-centered social media platforms, (i.e. Instagram, TikTok) reflect societal biases related to race and marginalized groups. The second semester will look at medical racism and its impacts on marginalized communities during pandemics, both historically and in contemporary digital contexts.

Emergent-cy: Critical Digital Humanities in the Time of COVID-19

Lead Convenor: Nelanthi Hewa [PhD Student, Faculty of Information]

Members: Haley Bryant, Camille Intson, Arun Jacob [PhD Students, Faculty of Information]

This group will place Marshall McLuhan’s (1964) attention to the medium’s message, and the analytical framework of scale, pace, and pattern, into conversation with the Digital Humanities and the anti-racist and decolonial work being undertaken in the field. The group will ask: “What does a robust and useful technological response to a crisis, one that is aware and attentive to the biases and messages of digital media, look like?

Sub-Alternative Media Technologies

Lead Convenor: Julian Posada [PhD Student, Faculty of Information]

Members: Hassan Assif, Monica Henderson, Cansu Ekmekcioglu, Ellen Michelle, Christine Tran, Lee Wilkins [PhD Students, Faculty of Information]

As social inequalities have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, this reading group centers race, power and global politics in a study of media and technology. In their readings, members re-centralize how these notions are left unresolved in the technologically-assisted push for normality. This move also aims to redress the paucity of representation for/of racialized scholars and race-focus scholars among our disciplines.

The Global South Feminist School of Media and Archives

Lead Convenor: Carina Guzman [PhD Student, Faculty of Information]

Members: Jamila Ghaddar, Mariam Karim, Henria Aton, Chido Muchemwa [PhD Students, Faculty of Information]

The Global South Feminist Media & Archives School began in the 2019-2020 academic cycle as a Marshall McLuhan Centre Working Group, under the theme "Hot MessAge." In the 2020-2021 academic cycle its members have constituted a Graduate Student Reading Group positioned to explore the Centre's call to research the "Global SpillAge." The Group explores information, archives and media scholarship that is based on feminist epistemology and theoretical frameworks developed outside of and/or against Global North frameworks.


Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need (Sasha Costanza-Chock)


Distributed Blackness: African American Cybercultures (André Brock Jr.)


The Costs of Connection: How Data is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism (Nick Couldry & Ulises A. Mejias)


This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Colour (Ed. Cherrie Moraga & Gloria Anzaldua)

The PhD Fellowships are part of the Faculty of Information Doctoral Program and are awarded to incoming doctoral students who's research overlaps with McLuhan Studies research and scholarship taking place at the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology. They are an opportunity for students to take part in, conduct, and collaborate with the Director, and affiliated faculty on McLuhan Studies.

Phd fellowships + Researchers

Past PhD Fellows

  • Réka Gál, Faculty of Information (2019-)

  • Alex Ross, Faculty of Information (2018-2021)

  • Grayson Lee, Faculty of Information (2018-2020)

​Past PhD Residents


  • Sarah Choukah, University of Montreal (Biomedia/Interspecies Communication)

  • Liron Efrat, Art History, University of Toronto (Embodied Experience in the Age of

  • Augmented Reality)

  • Steve Hicks, Music, University of Toronto (Glen Gould and McLuhan)

  • Jaime Lee Kirts, University of Colorado (The Electrical Socket Plug as a Medium Tied

  • to Domestic Labour)

  • Mary Grace Lao, York University (Feminist Media Publics/Dirty Archives)

  • Jess Lapp, iSchool, University of Toronto (Medium Archives)

  • Emily Maemura, iSchool, University of Toronto (Digital Materiality of the Web)

  • Curtis McCord, iSchool, University of Toronto (e-Citizenship)

  • Rianka Singh, iSchool, University of Toronto (Platforms as Feminist Media)