Noopur Raval Joins the UCLA Department of Information Studies
New assistant professor of information studies brings expertise in global AI development and information systems in postcolonial contexts to UCLA.
The UCLA Department of Information Studies has appointed Noopur Raval as an assistant professor of information studies, effective this fall. Prior to joining the UCLA School of Education & Information Studies, she was most recently a postdoctoral researcher in the Computational Media department at UC Santa Cruz, and a postdoctoral fellow and an adjunct professor in the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University (2020-21). In both positions, Raval taught courses such as “Ethics in Technology,” “Critical Theories of Media and Technology,” and “Critical Approaches to ICT for Development.”
A scholar of emerging technologies, Raval conducted research at UCSC to understand the experiences of South Asian immigrant workers in Silicon Valley as well as the role of organizational norms and design tools in supporting impactful work by high tech workers. While at the AI Now Institute at New York University, she led the institute’s “A New AI Lexicon Project,” an edited collection of 45 essays offering situated perspectives on ethics, regulatory issues, and grassroots concerns around global AI development.
Professor Raval hosts podcasts on the “Science Technology & Society” and “Media Studies” channels for the New Books Network. She is an alumna of the Berkman-Klein center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, a former fellow of the Center for Technology, Society and Policy (CTSP) at UC Berkeley, and a past international fellow of the ‘AI Genealogies’ program hosted by the University of Cambridge.
In her time as a graduate researcher at UC Irvine (2014-2020), Raval served as co-principal investigator and research mentor for a project on, “Mapping the landscape of digital labor in India,” (2019-20), a project funded by the Azim Premji University Research Grants Program, recruiting and mentoring four graduate researchers to conduct a comparative ethnography of app-based taxi- driving and food-delivery work in Mumbai and New Delhi. The project includes editing and co-producing a series of research outputs, including semi-academic blog posts and white papers. She is currently writing a monograph based on her dissertation research that looks at how gig economy platforms such as Uber have transformed the social relations and access to work in Bengaluru, the proverbial Silicon Valley of India.
Professor Raval’s experience in the technology fields includes her work as an intern for Microsoft Research and Xerox Research, examining a variety of topics including socio-cultural hierarchies and algorithmic platforms in the work of app-based beauty and wellness workers in India; the work processes, task scheduling, information capture and gathering behaviors among trade and service workers as well as gig-economy workers in the United Kingdom; skill-training and job discovery platforms for blue-collar workers in emerging markets, focused on mobile-first user preferences, learning patterns, aspirations; and social Q&A and information search behaviors on Facebook Groups in India. Raval also worked with the Wikimedia Foundation & The Centre for Internet & Society in Bangalore on their ‘Access to Knowledge (A2K)’ program to train and recruit Wikipedia contributors in Indian languages. Most recently, she has served as a knowledge partner to ‘The Digital Everyday’ program hosted by the feminist media organization ‘Point of View’ to equip a variety of social justice workers with critical perspectives on emerging technologies.
“I am dedicated to advancing public education and building critical and empowered communities that can interrogate their own relationships and engagement with emerging technologies,” says Professor Raval.
Professor Raval achieved her Ph.D. in the Department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine, with her dissertation on, “Platform-Living: Theorizing life, work, and ethical living after the gig economy.” She has a master of philosophy degree in cinema studies and a M.A. in arts and aesthetics from the School of Arts & Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Raval received her B.A. with triple majors in media studies, English literature and psychology from Christ University in Bangalore.
Raval’s recent publications include “The Moral Landscape of Platformization,” in Asiascapes Journal, and “An agenda for decolonizing data science,” in a special issue of Spheres Journal of New Media and Technology on “Spectres of AI.” She has also written on the limits of Western humanitarian discourses for ACM Interactions, on informal organizing and global solidarity for Logic Magazine and most recently, contributed to a volume of collected texts titled “Platforms Around In Between and Through,” curated by Aarti Sunder for the Singapore Biennale 2023.