Ayesha Omer

Ayesha Omer, Ph.D.

Ayesha Omer
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication

Ayesha Omer’s research examines how infrastructure technologies mediate sociopolitical life. Her scholarship combines multimodal ethnographic, archival methods to offer a situated, feminist analysis of the political and ecological effects of global media and communication technologies.

Omer's research lies at the intersection of media, cultural, environmental, and global studies with area foci on Pakistan and China. Her book manuscript, Networks of Dust: Media, Infrastructure, and Ecology along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, examines China's infrastructures in Pakistan’s indigenous borderlands, as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a flagship project of China’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This project focuses on critical CPEC infrastructures: Huawei’s fiber optics that link Xinjiang to Islamabad and form a digital borderland in Kashmir’s Himalayas; trade logistics technologies that mediate Gwadar’s deep waters in the Arabian Sea into standing reserve for its port and special economic zone; and data modeling and simulations technologies for coal energy futures in the Thar Desert. Her findings demonstrate that forms of technological extraction of indigenous lifeworlds inevitably produce what locals on CPEC grounds call “dust”. She argues that dust is the counter-imaginary of global connection. 

Omer's research draws on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork, research in Pakistani state archives, visual analysis of digital Chinese and Pakistani media content, CPEC policy documents, and has been supported by several grants, including the American Association of University Women (AAUW) International Doctoral Fellowship and the Global Dissertation Fellowship at NYU Shanghai. 

Her next research project comparatively examines Huawei’s smart-city infrastructure in Lahore, Pakistan and Lagos, Nigeria. She employs queer, feminist, and environmental justice approaches to analyze how digital mediation informs and reconfigures gendered, eco-political urban life.

She completed her Ph.D. from the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University in summer 2020. From 2020-21, she held a postdoctoral fellowship with the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Southern California. She has a background in mix-media, public performance art and her creative and academic work has appeared in ArtNowCityscapes, Tanqeed, and Cultural Studies.

Education

  • B.A., Davidson College, 2009
  • M.A. New York University, 2011
  • Ph.D. New York University, 2020

Selected Publications