Social Science Research Council Research AMP Mediawell

Sahana Udupa

Professor of Media Anthropology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany
HRLI Grantee

Sahana Udupa is a professor of media anthropology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich), Germany, where she teaches and researches online extreme speech, the politics of artificial intelligence, critical digital studies, news and journalism, and media policy. She has founded the For Digital Dignity program with an international network of researchers, policymakers, and civil-society groups to collaboratively imagine and foster enabling spaces of political expression online. Dr. Udupa is the recipient of the Joan Shorenstein Fellowship at Harvard University, European Research Council grant awards, and the Francqui Chair (Belgium). Most recently, she delivered a keynote address at the United Nations Partnership for Technology in Peacekeeping International Symposium on digital transformation based on a research paper on digital hate she was commissioned to write for the UN. She is also a senior research partner at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Dr. Udupa is a coeditor of the series Anthropology of Media, published by Berghahn Books (New York), and serves on the advisory board of MediaWell (a Social Science Research Council publication) and the editorial boards of several journals. She is the co-convener for the Media Anthropology Network at the European Association of Social Anthropologists.

Featured Work: Multiple Interfaces: Social Media, Religious Politics And National (Un)Belonging in India and the Diaspora“; “Ethical Scaling for Content Moderation: Extreme Speech and the (In)Significance of Artificial Intelligence“; Digital Unsettling: Decoloniality and Dispossession in the Age of Social Media; Digital Hate: The Global Conjuncture of Extreme Speech

Upcoming Projects: “Messaging Apps, Encryption and the Enticement of Extreme Speech”: A new research group steered by Dr. Udupa will examine the role of encrypted messaging services for extreme speech ecosystems globally.  The group will approach the problem with an empirical focus on WhatsApp—an end-to-end encrypted, cross-platform messaging service owned by Meta that has emerged as a central communication tool for a vast number of people, with more than two billion users and one hundred billion daily messages the world over. Based on insights from different regions and diverse contexts of use, the research group will analyze the role of encrypted messaging services in extreme speech cultures and highlight the regulatory and methodological challenges they have raised for academic research and policymaking.