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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Dr Aristea Fotopoulou is a UKRI Innovation Fellow/AHRC Leadership Fellow whose research focuses on social and cultural transformations that relate to digital media and data-driven technologies (e.g. self-tracking, wearables, big data, AI). 

Fotopoulou has published widely on critical issues of digital and emerging technologies from a feminist perspective, including the quantified self, wearable sensors and fitness tracking, citizen everyday data practices, digital media and feminist activism, intersectionality and queer theory. She is currently completing her monograph Feminist Data Studies: big data, critique and social justice (SAGE Publications, expected publication date 2021). Her first book is entitled "Feminist activism and digital networks: between empowerment and vulnerability" (2017, Palgrave/MacMillan). 

She is Principal Lecturer in Media and Communications in the School of Media, University of Brighton, and Academic Lead of Creative Futures. She was Postgraduate Research Coordinator of the School of Media between 2019-20. Between 2016-2019 she was Course Leader of the MA Digital Media, Culture and Society.

Between 2016-18 she served as Chair of the Digital Culture & Communication Section of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).


2015-Present: University of Brighton (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer 2016, Principal Lecturer 2018)

2014-15: University of Lancaster (Lecturer, Sociology)

2014:  Visiting Scholar at University of California, Santa Cruz (Research Center Science and Justice)

2012-13: Research Assistant at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Project: Storycircle, an EPSRC-funded action research project that focused on the social and digital conditions for narrative exchange and knowledge production (PI Nick Couldry, Framework for Innovation and Research in MediaCityUK).(http://storycircleuk.com/)

2012-2014: Research Fellow in the EU-funded project EPINET, a technological assessment of emerging technologies (smart grids, wearable sensors and in-vitro meat) (Integrated Assessment of Societal Impacts of Emerging Science and Technology from within Epistemic Networks, FP7-SCIENCE-IN-SOCIETY-2012- European Commission. http://www.epinet.no/) (University of Sussex, Media).


2012: PhD (Media and Cultural Studies), University of Sussex

2009: PGCert (Social Sciences Research Methods), University of Sussex

2008: MA (Media and Cultural Studies), University of Sussex

2007: BSc (Social Sciences), Open Univesrity

2006: BA Hons (Art & Design), Middlesex University

Research interests

Dr Aristea Fotopoulou leads the UKRI Innovation Fellowship/AHRC Leadership Fellowship funded research project ART/ DATA/ HEALTH: Data as creative material for health and wellbeing. The project creates an innovative and interdisciplinary process that offers disadvantaged groups and the wider public new tools, at the intersections of data science with art practice, to approach two key issues in healthy aging and prevention: digital skills and health literacy.

She also leads the project 'Impact of COVID-19 on Arts and Health charities' (funded by UKRI Research England’s Quality-related Research Strategic Priorities Funding (QR SPF) 2020-21). 

ART/DATA/HEALTH follows on from Fotopoulou's recent research "Critical data literacy, Creative media and Social equality" (funded by Rising Stars, University of Brighton 2017), which focused on big data and citizen engagement. The project run training workshops with community and civil society organisations to advance their digital and data analytics skills. 

In November 2020 she edited the Special Issue Digital Culture meets Data: Critical perspectives, in the academic journal Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, with Dr Helen Thornham. The special issue follows on from the  conference Digital Culture Meets Data: Critical Perspectives (November 2017, University of Brighton) organised by the Digital Culture & Communication Section of ECREA. 

Her research about wearable sensors and about the Quantified Self in San Francisco has been published recently in the online platform Open Democracy and in Health Sociology Review. Aristea has edited a special issue in digital media praxis for Ada: Journal of Gender, Technology and New Media, (Issue 5, June 2014, with Alex Juhasz & Kate O'Riordan). She served as Chair of the Digital Culture and Communication Section of European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) (2016-18), as Vice Chair (2014-2016) and as Early-career scholar representative (YECREA) of the section between 2012-2014. 

"Feminist Activism and Digital Networks: Between Empowerment and Vulnerability” (2017, Palgrave Macmillan)

This book sheds new light on the way that, in the last decade, digital technologies have become inextricably linked to culture, economy and politics and how they have transformed feminist and queer activism. This exciting text critically analyses the contradictions, tensions and often-paradoxical aspects that characterize such politics, both in relation to identity and to activist practice. Aristea Fotopoulou examines how activists make claims about rights online, and how they negotiate access, connectivity, openness and visibility in digital networks. Through a triple focus on embodied media practices, labour and imaginaries, and across the themes of bodily autonomy, pornography, reproduction, and queer social life, she advocates a move away from understandings of digital media technologies as intrinsically exploitative or empowering. By reinstating the media as constant material agents in the process of politicization, Fotopoulou creates a powerful text that appeals to students and scholars of digital media, gender and sexuality, and readers interested in the role of media technologies in activism.

Feminist Activism and Digital Networks has been endorsed by high profile academics in her field Prof Nick Couldry(London School of Economics and Political Science, UK), Prof Rosalind Gill (City, University of London, UK) and Prof Carol Stabile (University of Oregon, USA). The book was been described as: 

“highly recommended”, “an urgently needed antidote to […] the invisibility of gender and sexuality as embodied practices in communication studies and social movement studies alike”; and deemed as “required reading for social justice classrooms.”  

Supervisory Interests

Dr Aristea Fotopoulou's research focuses in the social, political and cultural issues of digital and emerging technologies. She welcomes PhD supervision of research projects critically examining: gender, sexuality and technology; feminist STS; critical public health communication and health promotion; arts and health; AI and society; robots and society; young people and digital technologies; mental health and technology; big data & society; everyday life; art and public health; art and science; innovative and interdisciplinary methodologies; digital inclusion; activism; participatory action research; citizen data.

Current PhD Students

  • Hannah Runham (ESRC South Coast DTP Scholarship in the Population Change, Health and Wellbeing pathway) (2017-2020). Theme: Mental health and Reality TV.
  • Jun Haelin (2018-2021). Theme: National identity, gender and use of YouTube in South Korean. 
  • Sijuade Olanihun Yusuf (International PhD Studentship) (2019-2022). Theme: Social media and negotiation of identity by African Women in Sub-Saharan African countries

  • Alex Yousif (ESRC Artificial Intelligence and Society PhD Studentship, South Coast DTP) (2020-2023). Theme: Algorithmic bias, gender and health and social care 


Indicative Masters and Undergraduate projects supervised:

  • The role of social media influencers in the promotion of sports and wellbeing
  • Representation of gender in Disney films
  • Audience perceptions of privacy and data collection on Facebook 
  • Understandings of bisexuality in social media 
  • Feminist activism and Twitter: #Metoo hashtag
  • Representation of queer characters in Call the Midwife. 
  • Gender in reality TV: The case of Only Way is Essex   

Knowledge exchange

Aristea is member of the steering group of the Arts, Health & Wellbeing of Public Health-Brighton Council. As PI of the ART/DATA/HEALTH project, she has been working with key partners and stakeholders, such as NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group, Public Health sector of the Brighton & Hove City Council, Digital Festival, Brighton Fringe, the domestic abuse charity RISE and numerous stakeholders and artists (see www.artdatahealth.org).

In 2019, Dr Fotopoulou was Visiting Researcher at the University of Bergen, Department of Information and Media Studies.

In 2014 she was Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Center for Science and Justice. 

In 2013 Dr Fotopoulou participated in the British Consulate Knowledge Exchange as delegate in the establishment of international knowledge exchange activities in the United States, with Institute of the Future, the Computer Museum, Loyola University Chicago, Science and Justice Centre, Santa Cruz, Centre For Digital Storytelling, Berkeley and University of San Francisco (2013). 

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Sussex

Award Date: 1 Jul 2012


  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • sociology of media
  • Feminist studies
  • critical data studies
  • digital communication
  • datafication
  • intersectionality
  • Feminism
  • Activism
  • Social Media
  • Gender
  • sexuality
  • Digital Health
  • digital culture
  • emerging technologies
  • science and technology studies
  • quantified self
  • digital humanities
  • Social Movements
  • citizenship
  • participatory research
  • Health Information
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • robotics
  • RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine


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