Zeyno Ustun received her PhD in Sociology at the New School for Social Research in 2019. She is currently a second year Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Media at Risk in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ustun earned her first Master’s degree in Sociology at Bogaziçi University in 2012, with the thesis titled Desire of the Impossible; A Cultural Reading of Fantastic Cinema and a second M.A. in Sociology in 2015 at the New School for Social Research.
Her areas of research align at the intersection of media infrastructures, networked social movements, and Internet law.
Ustun’s doctoral research titled Digital Dissidence: A Cartography of the Gezi Movement and its Legal Aftermath begins with the political and legal aftermath of the Gezi Resistance, a networked movement erupted in Istanbul that quickly spread to the rest of the country via the tactical utilization of the Internet. Draconian amendments to laws and regulations governing the local Internet followed Gezi’s emergence, and security forces were swift to target the digital dissidents carrying the spirit of the mass mobilization forward. Not only the networks of Gezi but also the entire local internet has been under the tight grip of central authority ever since. Ustun’s work investigates the technical and institutional history of the Internet by asking how the AKP regime claimed cyber territory in Turkey. Ustun questions how power operates over decentralized networks, focusing on the tension between the universal-technical and local-legal codes that impacted the conditions of distributed mediation in the case of Gezi. Utilizing a mixed method approach, she calls cartographic ethnography, she created an archive documenting the administrative and technical processes that led to global connectivity, with a particular focus on Turkey. What ensued—a thick and intelligible topology organized on a visual canvas—demonstrates the relations between central manipulations and the universalized standards of decentralization that not only made Gezi possible but also fostered the harsh political and legal retaliation the movement received after 2013. Ustun published a peer-reviewed article deriving from her doctoral research titled Cartographies of Digital Dissidence: Networked Movements, Internet Laws and Internet Ungovernance Forums in Turkey and Brazil (2021) in the journal First Monday.
In addition to her academic engagements, Ustun has worked as the Media Editor of Public Seminar, the online magazine based at the New School that seeks to advance the founding project of The New School for Social Research.
She has also been the researcher and and educator at the Graph Commons since 2011. Her works include the ongoing project titled Networks of Dispossession (2013-present), a networked database of the relations of capital and power that drive the urban transformation in Turkey; Higher Education Industrial Complex (2014), a project on private universities and their boards of trustees connected to a network of corporations and institutions in Turkey; and Monovacation (2014), a project on the homogenized ‘nature’ of tourism, exhibited in many events from Tokyo to Sao Paolo and to Marrakech Biennales.