This is the (growing) list of our excellent contributors at SOAS, who bring a rich mix of diverse perspectives to understanding global digital cultures in different parts of the world.
Lecturer in Global Digital Media
Matti Pohjonen works at the intersection of digital anthropology, critical philosophy and data science. For the past 10 years, he has developed critical-comparative research approaches for understanding digital cultures globally. This has included, among other things, work on international news and blogging in India, mobile technology in East Africa, comparative research on online extremism and hate speech in Ethiopia and Europe, and exploring new methods in “big data” analysis and artificial intelligence for digital media research. I also occasionally teach.
My name is Ying Sang. I used to study film, television and animation at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (China). I was a second assistant editor and title designer in a variety show which was produced by Dragon Television during my second year of university. At the same time, I was the director of news and information department to operate the WeChat public account for School of Publishing, Printing and Art Design where I was in.
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An enthusiastic and result-oriented Business Development Manager with over 5 years of work experience across 3 sectors (Advertising, Entertainment and Not-for-profit). Worked in over two countries (India & Germany), I have managed multiple clients, ranging from global consumer packaged companies (Procter & Gamble) to small businesses such as event venues.
In my free time, you will find me goofing around in an outdoor space with my dog.
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Donal Twomey Brenner
I was born and raised in London, before studying History and French at Sussex University, where I graduated in 2011. Since then I have lived and worked in a variety of contexts, including in Brazil, Mali, Spain, Italy and the UK.
My work has been primarily in the fields of music (as a DJ, radio presenter, promoter and festival programmer) and education (as a teacher and trainer).
I am in the process of completing my Masters in Global Cultural and Creative Industries, and my main academic interests currently lie in the issues surrounding surveillance capitalism, AI and political communication.
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Aoba Niki Yamagami
Has two different types of professional experience as a project formulation adviser at Japan International Cooperation Agency following media business developer at a social networking platform. Is studying at M.A. in Media in Development at SOAS and B.A. in Policy Management from Keio University, Japan.
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Nathan is pursuing his MA Politics & Religion with SOAS. He is a recent fellow of The Hoover Institution, Stanford University where he specialised in Public Policy Analysis. Following on from reading Physics at UCL, he pursued work with think tanks, government and NGOs, in which he had policy recommendations lobbied in both the European Parliament and UN General Assembly.
Nathan is also a keen independent researcher and journalist, having Co-Founded Aviskr, a public platform seeking to act at the nexus of data analytics and geopolitics. An authentic and committed scholar, he is evermore interested by great power interactions in the international system and international institutions. His intellectual interests lay in applied game theory, jurisprudence and political theory/philosophy, compounded with future applications and societal challenges presented by Artificial General Intelligence.
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Vivian (Jiayi) Qin
Jiayi Qin was born in China and finished her Bachelor’s degrees in Anthropology and Mathematics in the US. After graduating, she worked as an event manager in an international exhibition company in China and South Africa. Her team was responsible for press release and media advertising in South Africa. Moreover, she also joined ‘One Belt, One Road’ program and worked for Mr. Sindiso Ngwenya (
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My name is Daniel Schweimler – born in London and brought up in the UK. However, I have lived for much of the past twenty-five years in Mexico, Spain, Cuba and Argentina, where I was posted as the BBC correspondent. I left the BBC in 2009 and stayed on as a freelance journalist in Buenos Aires where I have reported for The Guardian, The Economist, Financial Times, New Zealand radio and RTE, among others. I have also worked on four of the UN COP climate change conferences, spent two years as the CCTV (China TV) correspondent covering the south of South America, and the past six as one of the Al Jazeera English correspondents covering Latin America. That has taken me to Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador and all over Argentina itself. I’ve covered flooding and drought, filmed in shanty towns and interviewed presidents and reported on indigenous cultures and elections. My core module is Theories of International Journalisms which I’m taking, with the other complementary modules, to try to better understand and place in a global context the career I’ve had the privilege to have enjoyed for more years than I care to contemplate.
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I’m a former Media Sciences graduate from Pakistan, with a major in Journalism. After completing my Bachelors in 2016, I worked in the education sector in Karachi as a creative counsellor for A Level Media (Film) students, as well as the assistant manager of the Digital Media Department where I was responsible for curating school-centric content. As a journalist by profession, and someone who has developed a strong liking for academia and education, I hope to learn more about leveraging platforms like the web and social media to push meaningful content forward. A fun fact about me would be that I have been a successful (and proud) organ (liver) donor in Pakistan as of last year, and the experience has opened my eyes. I am hopeful that enrolling in this Masters program will equip me with the right skillset to go back to my home country and work on a healthcare campaign to educate the masses in Pakistan (emphasis on education!) long term while raising social awareness.
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Mila has a BA in Film Analysis and Criticism from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and is currently pursuing her MA in Global Creative and Cultural Industries at SOAS, University of London. Her main interests are in transnational cinema and pop culture. www.milafielker.com.
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My name is Gitika Saksena. Born and brought up in Delhi. Since then, have lived in the cities of Bombay, Bangalore, Bhubaneswar and Chennai. I am currently pursuing my Masters in Social Anthropology from SOAS. Prior to this, I have done my Bachelors in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi University and an MBA from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar in India. I worked in the field of Human Resources at Accenture India, in various roles. Subsequently, I started an organisation consulting firm, working extensively with corporates, not for profits, enterprise incubators and academic institutions in India to drive adoption of design thinking and research led innovation. I have also taught Applied Design Thinking at leading business schools in India. In addition to my primary work, I have been a practicing documentary photographer and a travel writer.
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Sanam Yousaf Shaikh
Sanam Shaikh is currently an MSc Development Studies candidate with SOAS, University of London in the United Kingdom. Throughout her career, Sanam has had a vested interest in creating an impact within developing nations, demonstrated by her time serving as a Pakistan Advisor Intern at the United Nations, and her time spent as a U.S. Department of State Intern at The Afghanistan and Pakistan Desk. Sanam continued to strive in dedicating herself to making an impact on an international scale through her Public-Sector work as a Technology Analyst and Consultant within Deloitte’s Federal Practice in Washington, D.C. In pursuing a Masters, Sanam hopes to pivot from for-profit to non-profit consulting, with the long-term goal of establishing her own Consultancy centered around offering basic technology services to developing communities abroad.
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Akhil Jacob Thomas
Akhil is currently pursuing an MSc in Global Corporations and Policy at SOAS University of London. A graduate of economics, Akhil started his career as an intern with the UN academic impact unit at the UN Headquarters in New York City and later worked as a policy officer with the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), an EU funded intergovernmental organisation based in Singapore. Akhil’s expertise lies in International project management in the tri-sector collaboration space, bridging governments with businesses and civil society. He is fascinated by the intersection of technology, policy and geo-politics. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, yoga, scuba diving and kick boxing.
Marcos Ortiz Finch
Marcos Ortiz Finch is a journalist with a B.A. in Social Information from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, a Masters 2 degree in International Digital Journalism at Lumière Lyon 2 University in France and two diplomas in French Studies. He has 17 years of experience as documentary film director; editor, script-writer and columnist for written, radio, television and digital media; as well as having worked as communications officer for presidential campaigns and political parties.
Part of his work as a journalist can be found in his webpage.
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Yara is a media practitioner with experience in campaigning for social change. Throughout her endeavor, she has been working on promoting social change through leading campaigns to support and empower social ventures and nonprofit organizations in the Arab World. Yara also works as a professional events’ hostess where she hosted several high profile events. Moreover, she has been chosen by the European Union as one of the most inspirational Arab youth in the EU’s being 20 series. Besides being selected by the Obama Foundation in their leaders; Africa program for the year 2018. Currently, Yara is pursuing her MA in Media and Development at SOAS, University of London.
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This collage is me. There’s the suburban Bombay cityscape, Bangalore’s Cubbon Park and Delhi’s wonderful Connaught Place with the tricolour fluttering on a hot, summer afternoon. There’s the SOAS Library as well – I spend a lot of my time there these days. It reminds me of a scene out of Stranger Things Season 2. There’s my maternal grandma (Ai in Odia, my mother tongue), who I was very close to. My two prized possessions: my own set of wheels and my running shoes. The photo of the centuries-old and magnificent Belur temple and an old lady taking a break from it all is emblematic of my state of mind. Belur is in India’s coffee country. And that brings me to the last square: a cup of South Indian filter coffee, a hearty breakfast of dosa and oddly enough, gulab jamun for those with a sweet tooth or two. Now, I am just hungry. But I am also studying for an MA in Social Anthropology, have an earlier MBA as well as an undergraduate degree in Economics. I used to be a management consultant and an entrepreneur.
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Samad Rahim Khan
Born and raised in Pakistan, I have completed my undergraduate degree in Political Science and Media Studies. During this time I combined both my interest in media, as well as my passion for advocating for human rights and produced a documentary on the issues that the transgender community faces in Pakistan. My passion for music allowed me to organise several musical events for charity and also work as an instructor at the National Music Academy of Pakistan. Additionally, I am an academic supervisor for a local private school in Lahore. Currently, I am pursuing a Master’s degree at SOAS in Media in Development.
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My name is Tamara Willis. I was born in England and brought up in Turkey. My bachelor degree was in media and communications from the university of economics located in Izmir, turkey. I was the spokesperson of the university with along some experience in radio and news broadcasting as the presenter. I have experience in web design and translation. I have always been more familiar with the practical side of news production, and now I get to experience all the different layers that go into media studies. I am currently pursuing my MA for global media and postnational communication at SOAS.
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Hello, my name is Zainab Aga and I am from Erbil – the capital of Kurdistan Iraq.
Ever since I was a small girl I was fascinated with the news, politics, economics, and the arts. I craved to have an understanding of my world, to develop a voice and be heard.
Early on in my life, being a child of war, I came into close contact with the disasters that war brings about. As such, I feel driven by a sense of duty and obligation to seek to better myself, which in turn would enable me to extend a firm helping hand to others who might not be as fortunate as me to get a fortifying and strengthening education.
Taking one year off, I worked for a consulting firm under the CSR department developing women empowerment projects in Jordan and, I also worked in Tanzania for two months at an orphanage center.
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Tyia is currently pursuing her MA in Global Media and Postnational Communication at SOAS University of London. She previously received her BA in Political Science with double minors in Film and Media and Anthropology. Professionally, Tyia has worked in politics and filmmaking. She previously worked on a federal political campaign for a Democrat in the United States of America. She has also worked on film festivals and created short films.
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For the past 5 years I have been working as an intrapreneur for a Swiss energy company. In this position I created new services, sustainability concepts and digitisation strategies and fought for their implementation. My postgraduate studies in Business Development in Switzerland support my professional experience.
I am also passionately engaged in an initiative called Zukunftbureau (Future Office) as Community Happiness Manager. The idea is to create a space for every village and city for people to find support (feedback, methods, network) for their questions, ideas and projects regarding the future.
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That’s me. Saskia, 24 years old and I used to call myself audio-addicted.
I’m from Cologne in Germany where I was working as a radio presenter and a teacher for media education. Furthermore I loved my job at WDR 5 KiRaKa, a radio station for children where we have lately built up an outreaching podcast next to our daily programme – that was exciting!
I did my bachelor in Intermedia, where I got to learn editing, camera handling, script writing etc. and got in touch with giving workshops in media education.
Right now, I am in my master’s programme of media culture & Intermedia, staying in London for the next half a year. I am thrilled about diving into completely new contents and getting in touch with many different people, divers opinions and forward-looking topics to discuss together!
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My Name is Maha Chaara and as you can see on the picture I am from Cologne, Germany. Cologne is my second home (first one is Bonn, a smaller city near by) where I did my Bachelor in Educational Science. My two subject masters programme is Intercultural Communication and Education and Education for Adults. I have been always interested in sociology, politics, media and psychology. Besides studying I have been working since 2013 as a teacher at the International Institution in Bonn and since 2015 at the Psychology Department of the University of Cologne. Currently I am at SOAS as an Erasmus Student to experience the english educational system and to learn about new academic approaches. I am really looking forward to experience the big city life the next five months.
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Ola is a full time masters student from Jordan. she has worked with international and local NGOs and non-for-profit organizations for the past 3.5 years. Passionate about making a positive change in her society, she was disappointed by the reality of the development sector in her country. This lead her to pursuing a masters degree in Media in Development. Ola hopes that this degree will enable her to translate development efforts in Jordan in a positive yet honest media outlook and to utilize communication channels to tackle the pressing issues in the sector.
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