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PhD Students 2019-20

Stefanie Felsberger

Stefanie FelsbergerESRC Doctoral Training Partnership/Cambridge Trust Scholarship

Global Data Flows and Menstruation


Tech companies have amassed great capital through the commodification of data generated by people in their daily lives: this data is either sold or used to gain behavioural insights. In my research, I focus on this intersection of data as a source of value and knowledge, which underpins most business models in the digital economy. I look at women using fertility tracking applications which gather some of the most sensitive and sought-after information. I research how women in Egypt and Austria navigate the commodification of their personal data to question conceptions of gender and labour in discussions on surveillance capitalism, data ownership and commodification. I hope to (re)think the power relationship between data producers and technology owners and to find ways how woman can regain some say over what happens to their data.

Academic Background:

Magister in Political Science, University of Vienna (Distinction)

Magister in Arabic Studies, University of Vienna (Distinction)

(Senior) Researcher at the Access to Knowledge for Development Center, American University in Cairo

Research Interests:

I am interested in researching state surveillance, data and global markets, gender, labour, datafication, knowledge production, social reproduction, access to knowledge, and coloniality.


(Forthcoming) Subramanian, Ramesh and Stefanie Felsberger, eds. 2019. Access to Knowledge and Mobile Technologies. London: Routledge.  

Rizk, Nagla, Stefanie Felsberger, and Nancy Salem. 2019. “Narratives around Women, Work, and Technology.” In Taking stock: Data and Evidence on Gender Equality in Digital Access, Skills and Leadership. EQUALS Global Partnership and United Nations University.

Felsberger, Stefanie and Yara Sultan. 2019. "Speculative Data Futures Introduction: Current Realities & Future Imaginations." knowledgemaze (blog), July 8, 2019. 

Rizk, Nagla, Nancy Salem, and Stefanie Felsberger. 2019. “State of Open Data in the MENA Region.” The State of Open Data. OD4D.

Felsberger, Stefanie. 2019. “The Internet's Early History in Egypt:

A Conversation with Baher Esmat, Part I.” knowledgemaze (blog), May 23, 2019. 

Rizk, Nagla, Stefanie Felsberger, Nancy Salem, Eman Shehata, and Dalia Rafik. 2016. Data for Development in the MENA Region: A Narrative on Paradigms, Production, Access, and Usability. Cairo: Access to Knowledge for Development Center. 

Felsberger, Stefanie. 2015. "nolege is power: Rancière’s lesson in inequality." knowledgemaze (blog), February 10, 2015.

Anna Forringer-Beal

Anna Forringer-Beal 2019Gates Cambridge US Scholarship

From White Slaves to Trafficking Victims: How Historic Perceptions of Migrants Shape Contemporary Anti-Trafficking Policy

Supervisor: Professor Jude Browne (University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies)


The White Slavery Panics at the end of the nineteenth century laid the foundation for anti-human trafficking law. However, the connection between these events and contemporary policy has remained elusive. My research examines the legal history behind the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015 and the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to better understand how early perceptions of immigrants and sex workers impact current policy decisions. Using critical discourse analysis to examine historic anti-trafficking laws and popular white slavery narratives, I investigate the conversation between these two discourses. This reveals a series of legislative decisions influenced by xenophobia that I further explore using critical race and gender theory. These patterns in early human trafficking law carry implications for how we approach anti-trafficking measures today. This work argues to refocus policy using a human rights-based approach that places the needs of trafficking survivors at its centre.

Research Interests:  

My research interests include migration studies, decoloniality, critical race theory, human trafficking policy, and queer theory.  

Academic Background:  

MPhil (Distinction) in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies at Jesus College, University of Cambridge  

Bachelor of Arts (High Honors) in Anthropology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan  


J. De León, C. Gokee, and A. Forringer-Beal. “Use Wear, Disruption, and the Materiality of Undocumented Migration in the Southern Arizona Desert”. In Migrations and Disruptions: Unifying Themes in Studies of Ancient and Contemporary Migrations, edited by T. Tsuda and B. Baker, 145-178. University Press of Florida, 2015.


Jenny Carla Moran

Jenny MoranAHRC Doctoral Training Partnership /Cambridge European & Newnham College Scholarship


Supervisor: Dr. Sarah Dillon (Faculty of English, University of Cambridge)


In recent years, the phenomenon of techno-companion robotics, especially “sex bots,” has received significant attention in news media, dominant sci-fi narratives, and documentaries. The academic engagement with techno-companions has, however, been comparatively lacking. The care work and emotional work performed by devices such as sex robots, disability assistive robots, and elderly care robots, has yet to be adequately theorised as a result. The emotional, caring, and enabling forms of work which these products are designed to replicate descend from genealogies that are deeply gendered, racialized, profit-orientated, and heteronormative. Through examinations of the nuclear family, the pursuit of capital, the valuation of labour, the hierarchisation of social roles, the sociogenetic construct of ability, and the function of affect in cisheteropatriarchal white supremacist capitalism, this project situates techno-companion devices in the context of these genealogies.

Loveability is a critical theory examining stratified assignments of humanity on a biopolitical basis. The theory is designed to identify and examine orientations and affective responses to particular traits, deemed socio-politically “loveable” or “unloveable.” I propose that techno-companions are created not only to embody loveability (as “ideal companions”), but to enable their users to become more loveable in turn through emotional work. I question the indebtedness of techno-companions’ design and usage to the structural construction of which Beings are deemed most worthy of love, empathy, and protection. Through an examination of the ways in which techno-companions simulate a colonial-capitalist articulation of “love,” I ask how loveability is (re)produced by the techno-companion industry.

Academic Background:

Bachelor of Arts (First Class) in English Studies at Trinity College Dublin
Master of Arts (Distinction) in Postcolonial Studies at SOAS, University of London


Moran, J. C. (forthcoming) “Ach Ba Ghá Dom Labhairt Leat:’ An Foclóir Aiteach and the Presence of Queer Culture as Gaeilge.” In: Harvest of Distress. Derry: Derry Centre for Contemporary Art.

Moran, J. C. (forthcoming) “Programming Power and the Power of Programming: An Analysis of Racialised and Gendered Sex Robots” In: Janina Loh and Mark Coeckelbergh (eds.), Feminist Philosophy of Technology. Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019.

Moran, J. C. (2019) “‘Ach Ba Gá Dom Labhairt Leat:’ An Foclóir Aiteach and the Presence of Queer Culture as Gaeilge.” [online] Available at:

Moran, J. C. (2019) “Oppositional Artefacts: Archival Justice and the Disruption of Irish Cultural Memory through Vukašin Nedeljković‘s Asylum Archive.” A. Banks, N. Cahill and K. Friedeberg (eds.), Ontology of the Artefact. [online] Available at:

Moran, J. C. (2018) “What’s in a Meme: Literature, Representation, and Renegotiation.” [online] Available at:

Moran, J, and L. McCormack, eds. (2017) nemesis, vol. 1, no. 1. [online] Available at:

Moran, J, and L. McCormack, eds. (2017) nemesis, vol. 1, no. 2. [online] Available at:

Naoise Murphy

Ms Naoise MurphyAHRC Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership, Isaac Newton Trust Studentship 

Queering Irish Women’s Writing in the Twentieth Century 

Supervisor: Dr Caroline Gonda (Faculty of English) 


Despite a resurgence of interest in the occluded voices of twentieth-century Ireland, the queer potential of Irish women’s writing has yet to receive the attention it deserves. My research uncovers queer counternarratives in the work of writers like Kate O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane and Dorothy Macardle that challenge the heterosexist logics of Irish nationalism. As part of this project, I engage with decolonial and intersectional frameworks in order to complicate readings of Irish women’s writing as straightforwardly ‘progressive’ or ‘subversive’. Problematising dominant understandings of Irish ‘modernity’, and addressing broader questions of normativity and marginalisation, the aim of my research is to articulate new possibilities for queer Irishness.

Academic Background:

BA (First Class) Combined Honours in Arts with Year Abroad - English Literature and French, University College, Durham University

MPhil (Distinction) in Multi-Disciplinary Gender Studies, Newnham College, University of Cambridge


Murphy, N., 2019. ‘The Right to Dream: Gender, Modernity, and the Problem of Class in Kate O'Brien's Bourgeois Bildungsromane’Irish University Review 49(2), pp. 276–289. 

Research interests:

queer theory, decolonial methodologies, Irish writing, modernism, twentieth-century literature

Ola Osman

Ola Osman 2

Gates Cambridge International Scholarship

Where are they Now? Documenting the Reintegration Needs of Ex-Combatant Women in Liberia fifteen years after the civil war

Supervisor: Dr Holly Porter (University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies) 



This research project aims to investigate how ex-combatant Liberian women have fared in the areas of reintegration and participation in Liberian society fifteen years after the end of the civil war, which lasted from 1989-2003. While there is a robust body of scholarship that addresses how Liberian women contributed to the end of that country’s civil war, there is a dearth of literature documenting the ostracization of ex-combatant Liberian women who attempted to participate in that country’s demobilization, disarmament, and re-integration (DDR) program. Ex-combatant women have suffered losses in a post conflict context related to transgressing the foundational parameters of feminized expectations in a militarized, patriarchal society. However, little is known about how these women have negotiated their reintegration into Liberian society and the state of their lives today. This study seeks to document and analyze how stigmatized ex-combatant women negotiate gendered exclusions to find a place in Liberian society. Its purpose is knowledge contribution to how scholars, policy makers and activists may re-think or expand on approaches to the full re-integration of marginalized women based on their specific needs and lived experience.

Academic Background 

Oxford University 2019, MSt in Women’s Studies with Distinction (Clarendon Scholarship and Prince Sultan Scholarship) 

University of Western Ontario 2018, Honours Specialization in Women’s Studies


Osman, O., 2016. On Fictive Kinship and the Intra-Racial Politics of Truth Telling, Tulips, pp. 40-45.


Reetika Revathy Subramanian

Reetika Subramanian

Gates Cambridge International Scholarship

Brides of Drought: Gendered interlinkages between labour and marriage migration of adolescent wives/ workers in India’s climate crisis

Supervisor: Professor Samita Sen (Vere Harmsworth Professor in Imperial and Naval History, Faculty of History) 


Anchored at the intersections of marriage migration and girlhood studies, my doctoral research proposes to make visible the labour and experiences of adolescent girls in the context of a climate crisis. I seek to combine a multi-sited feminist ethnography with an informed interpretation of community women’s oral folk songs of labour, to understand the complex ways in which early marriage is used as an institutional means to produce a particular workforce of adolescent wife-workers in capitalist labour markets, in India’s historically drought-prone and caste-ridden Marathwada region. To develop this exploratory thesis, I will pursue two simultaneous trajectories set against the backdrop of frequent and intense droughts: one linked to the historical and socio-economic changes that have driven early marriage and survival migration, and another occurring as the adolescent girls become wives and workers. By training the spotlight on the analytical idea of girlhood and (re)productive labour, I aim to demystify the structural hierarchies and complex processes underlying these exchanges.


MPhil in Multi-disciplinary Gender Studies (Distinction and Recipient of Chevening-Cambridge Trust Scholarship), University of Cambridge, 2017

MA in Media and Cultural Studies (Distinction), Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, 2015

Bachelor of Mass Media- Journalism (Distinction), University of Mumbai, 2011


Research Interests: 

Gender, Labour, Migration, Structural Violence, Community Media