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Northwestern School of Communication

Sulafa Zidani

Assistant Professor
Sulafa Zidani studies internet cultures in the Global South. Her research, conducted in five languages, across geopolitical contexts, examines the creative strategies and tactics used by transnational youth as they navigate the changing power dynamics of contemporary globalization.

Area(s) of Expertise

Critical Internet Studies, Digital Media, Global Communication, Media Cultures in the Global South, Social Activism and Impact
Sulafa Zidani

Sulafa Zidani is a scholar of global digital culture at Northwestern University, where she is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies. She also holds an affiliation with Northwestern Qatar's Institute for Advanced Study in the Global South. Prior to joining the faculty at Northwestern, Dr. Zidani was an Assistant Professor of Global Civic Media in the Department of Comparative Media Studies|Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Through her scholarship and public engagement, she takes part in building justice-informed media practices. 

Her first book project, All Your Meme Are Belong To Us: Internet Cultures in the Global South (in progress), explores creative practices in online civic engagement across geopolitical contexts and languages such as Mandarin, English, Arabic, Hebrew, and French.  

She has also published on online culture mixing, Arab and Chinese media politics, and critical transnational pedagogy in venues such as: Social Media + Society; Asian Communication Research; Media, Culture & Society; International Journal of Communication, and Information, Communication and Society. She is also a co-editor for the forthcoming anthology, The Intersectional Internet II: Power, Politics and Resistance Online (Fall 2023). 

Dr. Zidani is an award winning teacher. Her course, “Studying Internet Culture,” which she designed and taught in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, earned her a teaching award at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. In the class, students critically examined different formats of popular internet culture (including memes, TikTok videos, influencer cultures, hashtags, and more).  

Outside of the academy, Dr. Zidani is an accomplished global public educator. She is on the editorial board of Pop Junctions: Reflections on Entertainment, Pop Culture, Activism, Media Literacy, Fandom, and More. She has led workshops on antiracist facilitation and social justice for organizations such as NowThis, Gimlet Media, The Onion, and The Writers Guild of America. She has given talks at colleges, universities, libraries, conferences, and public forums across the U.S., Palestine, Scotland, Egypt, China, Israel, Qatar, France, and Canada. Her public writing on popular culture and politics has appeared in Arabic, Hebrew, and Anglophone publications.  

Dr. Zidani's educational background includes a dual-major BA (2009) and MA (2015) in Asia Studies and Communication and Journalism from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and an MA (2019) and PhD (2021) in Communication from the University of Southern California's Annenberg School.