Victoria Bernal is Professor at the UC Irvine School of Social Sciences. She is a cultural anthropologist whose scholarship in political anthropology contributes to media and IT studies, gender studies, and African studies. Her work addresses questions relating to politics, gender, migration and diaspora, war, globalization, transnationalism, civil society and activism, development, digital media, and Islam. Bernal’s research is particularly concerned with relations of power and inequality and the dynamic struggles of ordinary people as they confront the cruel and absurd contradictions arising from the concentration of wealth and political power locally and globally. She has carried out ethnographic research in Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Silicon Valley and cyberspace.
Bernal’s current project on “Privacy, Security, and Surveillance: Struggles on the Digital Frontiers of Democracy” was supported by a Fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University for the 2015-16 academic year. The project explores shifting American cultural understandings and practices around digital surveillance and cybersecurity with a particular focus on: 1) tech culture and technological responses to surveillance; 2) mainstream media and expert discourses on cybersecurity and threats; and 3) public culture and artistic representations addressing surveillance, threats, and digital technologies.
Bernal has been the recipient of a number of prestigious grants and fellowships from Wenner-Gren, Fulbright, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society among others.