Meet the new PhD candidates who recently joined! Today: Renza Iqbal

"Doing a PhD is something I've always had my heart in, as there are few things as exciting as knowledge and learning.” Renza Iqbal conducts research under the broad theme of digital inequality in the Global South. Topics include interpersonal surveillance, behaviours, perceptions of security, privacy, freedom, digital vigilantism, and the family/community's honour. She is supervised by Prof.Dr. Payal Arora and Dr. Daniel Trottier. For this blogpost, we asked her to tell a bit about herself and her research project*.

Welcome, Renza! Can you tell us a bit about your PhD project and your decision to do your PhD here?

"I visited Erasmus University in February 2020 as a part of my research programme in India. My work was on digital inequality, and I was fascinated by Prof. Payal Arora's work, especially her book The Next Billion Users. MICA, Ahmedabad - my home institute sends its scholars abroad for a semester. The scholars must identify academicians working in an area of their interest, get in touch with them and get the permissions. I knew who I wanted to work with and had no second thoughts. I was lucky that Prof. Arora accepted my request and invited me to ESPhil.

I had a great time at Erasmus University, attending every seminar, lecture, workshop, and event I could make it to. But sadly, Covid19 struck, putting a halt to my academic adventure. However, it wasn't all bad. During my interaction with Prof. Arora, she told me about the external PhD opportunity that I could apply to and agreed to be my supervisor. My home institute was thrilled when my application got accepted.

My PhD looks into digital inequality - more specifically, interpersonal surveillance, behaviours, perceptions of security, privacy, freedom, digital vigilantism, and the family/community's honour. Considering my research interests, Prof. Arora suggested Prof. Daniel Trottier would be a fine fit as a co-supervisor. It was kind of him to join in supporting my PhD. My study is based in the Global South – India to be specific, and I hope to engage in an ethnographic study that delves into the contextual and cultural factors that influence digital inequality."

And how would you describe yourself beyond academia?

"I love to travel, explore, and engage in immersive experiences. And I strive to become a better person by cultivating empathy and kindness."

Thank you, Renza. That is a beautiful personal goal. Hope you’ll continue to enjoy your time at this university, and best of luck in this new chapter of your academic career!

*This exchange with Renza was conducted by Phuong Hoan Le.

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