Image: Camilo Jimenez
Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020


What political and technological strategies do Asian and Asian American workers and organizers use to respond to differential exposures to risk, such as economic uncertainty, physical safety, and heightened policing and surveillance, during the Covid-19 pandemic? The ongoing and unknown duration of the pandemic requires further investigation to understand how long-lasting disasters shape processes of community organizing, advocacy, and recovery, particularly for racially marginalized populations. In this current moment, remote digital tools are used for both organizing and work, functioning as a terrain where community organizing interfaces with the policy arenas of labor, technology, and policing given issues of risk, privacy, and safety. This project works closely with New York City–based grassroots collectives organizing Asian migrant workers in informal economies and adapts qualitative research processes to base-building needs of community partners. In addition to in-depth qualitative interviews with workers, this study conducts a series of focus group interviews with organizers in worker-led movements that function as peer skill-sharing sessions with the goal of learning more about how community organizers leverage technologies in organizing practices during the pandemic. This research enhances understandings of Asian migrant workers’ technology and political practices and enables shared learning and collaborative knowledge production.

Principal Investigator

Rachel Kuo

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Rachel Kuo studies race, digital technologies, and social movements. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds a PhD from New York University in media, culture, and communication. She is part of the core research team for the AAPI Covid-19 project, which examines the ongoing pandemic as it shapes the lives of Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in the US. She is on the qualitative team alongside Dr. Vivian Shaw (sociology, Harvard University), Christina Ong (sociology, University of Pittsburgh), Dr. Cynthia Wang (communication, California State University, Los Angeles), and Susanna Park (global health, Oregon State University). She is also a founding member and current affiliate of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies and also a cofounder of the Asian American Feminist Collective.