Starr Forum: #ViralPotentials: How South Asian Women Use TikTok

Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 9:00am to 10:15am

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Working class women are using TikTok to express themselves. The app is also an avenue for fun or financial gain. Women across the region are using TikTok for activism, teaching, and learning. On this panel, academics, journalists, and activists from South Asia discuss how women have expanded their possibilities using TikTok, as well as the limitations the app poses.

About the speakers:

Maham Javaid (moderator) is a human rights journalist from Pakistan. She is a research associate at the MIT Center for International Studies as its 2022 Elizabeth Neuffer Fellow awarded by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). She is currently at the New York Times and spent time at the Boston Globe as part of the IWMF fellowship. 

Ramsha Jahangir is a journalist and researcher specializing in technology and human rights. Her work is focused on internet rights, mis/disinformation and digital society. She has been researching how women in Pakistan use TikTok as a learning and teaching tool.

Sachini Perera is the executive coordinator of RESURJ, a South-led transnational feminist alliance. She is a queer feminist from Sri Lanka who is interested in the intersections of technology, pop culture, sexual and reproductive justice, and pleasure. She has researched how women and LGBTIQ people in Sri Lanka use the internet for expression and community including on TikTok, and has most recently published a white paper on feminist internet research and a paper on South-based feminist visions for digital media policy in Sri Lanka.

Sidra Kamran is a PhD candidate in sociology at The New School and an incoming assistant professor at Lewis & Clark College. She uses qualitative methods to study work, gender and sexuality, and social class. Her dissertation examines the flourishing yet stigmatized occupations of beauty and retail work in Pakistan. Her other research explores how intersecting class and gender dynamics shape Pakistani women’s extraordinary entry into the digital public sphere through TikTok.

Satveer Kaur-Gill is a postdoctoral research associate with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Her research focuses on minority health disparities. One of her current projects looks at how migrant domestic workers, many of whom are from South Asia, in Singapore are help-seeking, information sharing and entertaining each other on TikTok.

Sujatha Subramanian is a PhD candidate at the Ohio State University. Her doctoral research project examines the effects of India’s juvenile justice system on the girls placed in its institutions. She has also been researching Bahujan girls’ anti-caste activism on TikTok. 

Co-sponsors:  MIT Center for International Studies (CIS) and the MIT India Program.

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