BCNM's Big Wins 2021

27 Jul, 2021

BCNM's Big Wins 2021

After a whirlwind 2021, we've finally been able to take stock and are thrilled to share some of our greatest achievements. Check out how we we contributed to new media at Cal and beyond in the last year!

Curriculum Development

We developed NWMEDIA 151AC: Transforming Tech, a large-format American Cultures undergraduate course, which emphasizes issues of technology and social difference. One hundred students enrolled in Transforming Tech and the reviews were exceptional, with students praising the course for helping them to think about how to build a more inclusive digital world. Plus, Abigail De Kosnik received an American Cultures Teaching Award for this successful course!

But wait, there's more! With Clancy Wilmott, we launched NWMEDIA 205: Locative Media, which considers the history and future of locative media as technological, situated and navigational ways of expressing and understanding space, place and mobility, and NWMEDIA 290: Digital Geographies, which considers the explicitly spatial questions in the new arrangements of politics in virtual, mobile and sensing digitalities, as well as the complex, but consistent spatialities of digital information.

We also curated resources and guides for our Berkeley constituents and the broader public on issues of indigeneity and technology. You can view the living, online bibliography here. It includes books, articles, videos, organizations, and other resources.

Interdisciplinary Research

This year we brought back our popular Faculty Seed Grants to champion vanguard interdisciplinary research and were able to support Kaleidescope by Eric Paulos and Parts Without Bodies by Jill Miller and After Jahangir by Asma Kazmi. Kaleidescope is a tool that supports a range of “artifact” types from text, google docs, websites, videos, images, Figma designs, 3D models, various online collaborative repositories such as GitHub, etc. Parts without Bodies is a new series of digitally fabricated sculptures that combine 3D printed creature corpuses with embedded audio systems, which form a tangible object that plays audio files when touched. After Jahangir is a photographic project of self-portraits based on Islamic Mughal miniature portraits, which explore questions around the built environment, consumerism, and ecofeminist thinking.

We also launched course grants for faculty to support their teaching new media classes (Fall, Spring). With these funds, we were able to provide honoraria for guest speakers as well as monitors to improve online teaching. Fifteen guest speakers visited classrooms, offering expert knowledge on topics such as: feminist game histories, queer games, Indigenous technologies, electronic literature, Black media philosophy, lesbian media technologies, and more.

Our Undergraduate Research Fellowship expanded from three to four awards, with fellow from Interdisciplinary Studies, Society and the Environment, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Integrative Biology working on projects in Film & Media, Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, Computer Science, and Architecture, platforming inclusive, collaborative research in new media.

While our graduate student conference grants couldn't be offered this year due to COVID-19, we converted these funds into need-based financial aid, and were able to offer more awards than ever before.

Finally, the Color of New Media Working Group have developed and launched a book theme for their next publication in new media studies. Get excited and watch this space!


We had a stellar year for public programs, offering 21 events and serving 7,600 people. Of those events, 80% were presentations by BIPOC speakers. These events define important and unexpected directions of research for new media scholars, engineers, artists, and policymakers.

A highlight was our organization of our first series on Indigenous Technologies. We organized six events by prominent Indigenous scholars and artists that drew attention to historical technological achievements of Indigenous groups and the potential for future technologies to be informed by Indigenous thinking. Check out the Fall and Spring events in review here and here.

We also established a relationship between BCNM and Indigenous groups in the Bay Area and beyond. We began by writing our Land Acknowledgement in collaboration with Indigenous leaders and advocated for institutionalizing a Shuumi Land Tax paid annually to the Sogorea Te' Land Trust. Five other departments have since followed our lead. We also began discussions with other Indigenous groups in Canada through our public series.

Finally, we presented our first online mini-series with Fandom & Piracy! The series consisted of two lectures and two panels that took place online on four consecutive Thursdays in Spring 2021, and explored how fandom and piracy have played a part in the evolution of the internet, how they have attracted millions of participants and become akin to social movements, how they have given rise to digital platforms that both augment and defy the corporatization of media production and the web, and how race/ethnicity, gender, and sexuality operate within fan and pirate communities. Check out the review here!