Research & CV

Curriculum vitae



Peer-reviewed publications

South Asian American Digital Archive

Author: Lia Wolock
Publication Date: 2021
The Journal of American History
Section: Public History Reviews
Volume: 108
Issue: 1
Pages: 120-124

In this piece I discuss the South Asian American Digital Archive‘s evolving organizational strategies and participatory projects, from its founding in 2008 to the present. In line with Johnson, Drake, and Caswell’s (2017) call for archives and institutions to take up liberatory memory work, SAADA is “dedicated to animating traces of the past for social justice activism in the present and to envision and enact radically just futures.” This public history review examines how SAADA puts liberatory memory work into practice and how SAADA’s struggles and triumphs in this pursuit reflect broader ongoing efforts to enact a coalitional South Asian American identity and politics.


Diaspora and Digital Media

Author: Lia Wolock
Publication Date: 2020
Race and Media: Critical Perspectives
Editor: Lori Lopez
Publisher: New York University Press
Pages: 190-201

This chapter briefly traces the history of South Asian migration to the United States, unpacks the racialization of South Asian Americans in mainstream media, and highlights how this community has always used media (e.g. phones, records, films, streaming platforms) to negotiate the complexities of diasporic identity. Working through scholarship on racial triangulation and technoculture, I then show how multiple, sometimes competing versions of South Asian American identity are actively constituted by activists and users through digital diasporic media. In creating and supporting sites such as Sepia Mutiny and the South Asian American Digital Archive, I argue that the proponents of coalitional South Asian America bring together novel understandings of diaspora and digital media to remap their identities and the racial lines of the United States.

Race and Ethnicity in Post-network American Television: From MTV-Desi to Outsourced

Authors: Lia Wolock & Aswin Punathambekar
Publication Date:
Television and New Media
Issue: 7
Pages: 664-679

This article analyzes post-network American television’s fraught relationship with race and ethnicity by exploring two mainstream media ventures focused on South Asian Americans: MTV-Desi (2005-2007) and NBC’s Outsourced (2010-2011). Approaching these media ventures as productive failures, we examine how industry workers narrate these failures to trace how the contemporary television industry in the US imagines racial and ethnic identities. Bringing together interviews with media industry professionals, observations at a media industry convention, and thematic analyses of trade press and news coverage, we argue that both media ventures are symptomatic of the nationalist logics that inform US television industry professionals even as they seek to target audiences increasingly embedded in transnational media circuits. Industry professionals’ misreading of South Asian Americans’ position in the racial economies of the United States, and misreading of changes in patterns of media circulation, reveal the challenges confronting the media industry when it comes to issues of race and ethnicity.



Other Writing

#Remember the Mutiny

Authors: Lia Wolock & Padma Chirumamilla
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Publication: The Aerogram

This piece discusses the incredible political and social legacies of multi-person blog and community Sepia Mutiny and its relationship with the coalitional South Asian American project more broadly.



Book project

Producing South Asian America: Diaspora, Race, and Digital Activism examines the emergence of a new North American racial identity formation, and the media sites and labor that undergird it. South Asian American is a coalitional identity label encompassing people who live in the United States and Canada and trace their heritage to the South Asian subcontinent (i.e. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan). Over the last two decades and applying racial justice frameworks from Black and Asian American traditions, South Asian America’s proponents have taken up digital media to advocate for critical solidarities externally with other communities of color, and across many highly volatile internal fault lines. Cataloguing the use of nascent communication technologies within this diasporic community, the book reveals how South Asian America is a feat of both cultural and technical connectivity, forged not only through repeated acts of media production (e.g. blogs, podcasts, streaming video), and curation and circulation (e.g. social media, archives), but also through the building of elaborate infrastructures of affective and unremarked digital labor (e.g. listening, sharing, liking).

The book brings together diverse sources to sketch the complicated interplay of practices, politics, and technologies involved in shifting South Asian Americans’ racialization. These include: ethnographic interviews with creators and activists; participant observation at museums, podcast recordings, and events; institutional analyses of activist organizations; and close readings of media texts, interfaces, cultural exhibitions, and public discourse. Harnessing insights from critical race, diaspora, digital labor, and critical-cultural communication theory, Producing South Asian America charts the pioneering labor undertaken by marginalized and minority communities to imagine, build, and sustain new multiracial communities of coalition in the United States today. Exploring the vacillating, situational racialization of South Asian Americans—as ideal tech employees, usurping foreign workers, religious terrorists, and the most acceptable of minorities—the book demonstrates how national racial logics are formed from a complex set of transnational political, economic, and cultural relations, and unpacks the mediated forms of labor entailed in reconfiguring these dynamics. Producing South Asian America thus reveals the contemporary limits and possibilities of cultural citizenship, both national and transnational, in an era of increased migration, mediation, nationalism, and xenophobia.