Cara Wallis


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Professional Title

Associate Professor, Communication and Media


College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA)
Communication Studies


Professor Cara Wallis (she/her) is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work spans the fields of mobile/social media, Chinas studies, intersectional and transnational feminism, critical studies of technology, and global media. Her overarching research question concerns how uses and understandings of technology, as these are informed by multiple axes of identity, both reproduce inequitable power relations and open up spaces for individual and collective agency and thus social change. Professor Wallis’ award-winning book, Technomobility in China: Young Migrant Women and Mobile Phones (NYU Press, 2013), offered a long-term ethnographic exploration of how young rural-to-urban migrant women doing low-level service work used mobile phones to navigate their lives in Beijing, where they face institutional constraints and deep-seated prejudices. Her second manuscript, Social Media and the Ordinary: Affect, Ethics, and Aspiration in Contemporary China (NYU Press, forthcoming), is an expansive ethnographic study of the affective and ethical underpinnings of social media as it is used by diverse, marginalized groups in China for community building, various types of labor, aesthetic self-cultivation, and long-term efforts at reducing structural gender inequalities. In her work, Professor Wallis attends to how specific local practices are shaped by history and culture as well as global flows of power and discourse.

Research Interests

social sciences
qualitative research
digital studies
social media