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Sucheta Ghoshal's Research Group Archive

The following research group descriptions are archived because they are no longer offered, the faculty member is on sabbatical, or the group is taking a break. Please contact the faculty member or an advisor to learn more about these groups.

Winter 2024

Food, Caste and Technology in Seattle

Directed Research Group on Critical Caste and Tech Studies, Winter 2024

On February 21, 2023, Seattle City Council passed a law amending anti-discrimination protections in employment, public places, housing, and contracting to include caste as a protected class. After a long and sustained effort of over 20 years of anti-caste organizations in the US, Seattle became the first city in the United States to ban caste discrimination. As a system of oppression through social stratification, caste is assigned at birth, is immutable, and is reinforced through casteist practices. Caste discrimination in the US cannot be understood without an understanding of the caste demographics of the Hindu Indians residing in the US. A significant majority of Hindu Indians residing in the United States identify themselves as belonging to the General or upper caste. Caste is often reinforced through the separation of food and specific food practices which traveled with Indian migrants to other parts of the world, as did the system of caste. Within the upper caste diaspora, the tendency is to treat caste as a thing of the past and align themselves with modern, progressive claims of ‘castelessness’ or being free of the privileges that come with being the dominant castes (Vaghela, 2022). 

In this DRG, we aim to develop a shared understanding of the analytic of caste and caste logics, as they travel with the Indian diaspora. Specifically, in the first half of the quarter, this DRG will involve an introductory dive into existing literature on caste, technology and food. In the second half of the quarter, participants will be actively involved in a small project that aims to provide empirical evidence of caste practices revolving around food in the Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue area, with a focus on analyzing reviews of Indian restaurants.  

This DRG is open to Masters and PhD students.   

This DRG will be led by PhD students Sayan Bhattacharjee and Priya Dhawka and sponsored by Assistant Professors Sucheta Ghoshal and Sayamindu Dasgupta.  


Autumn 2023

Mapping Collective Visions for Tech Workers in the aftermath of the 2022-2023 Tech Layoffs

Led by Samuel So, PhD student (HCDE)
With guidance from HCDE professors Sucheta Ghoshal and Sean Munson

By early 2023, several big tech companies, such as Alphabet, Meta, Amazon, and Intel, announced layoffs that would impact up to 100,000 people. Company leadership justified these decisions as the result of lowered sales and preemptive measures in anticipation of an economic recession. The current wave of layoffs comes at a time when tech workers are increasingly critical of their employers’ values and practices. The designers, engineers, and other techworkers in the workforce have an increasingly conflicted relationship with the managerial class within Big Tech, particularly with corporate leadership that gets to define the goals and visions of this industry. As a result, many of them are actively seeking out newer means of accountability within and outside the workplace.

As the next phase of this NSF-supported project, we will investigate the emergent relationships tech workers have with their employers, their value systems, and potential modes of accountability in the aftermath of the layoffs. In this 2-credit DRG, we will recruit for- and conduct an 8-week asynchronous remote communities (ARC) research study involving recently laid off tech workers. DRG students will facilitate ARC activities and qualitatively analyze participant responses.

For more information on the study, please refer here.

We are looking for:

  • 2-3 graduate students (MS or PhD), or upper-level undergraduate students in their 3rd+ year
  • No prior software development experience necessary
    • No experience with qualitative data analysis software necessary 
  • Folks with qualitative data collection and analysis experience (e.g., interviews, surveys, focus groups, ARCs)
  • Interest in technocultural analysis, labor studies, and/or CSCW research, theory, and methods

DRG Format and Expectations:

  • Attend two weekly meetings: 75-minute research group meeting and 90 minute co-working session. Times TBD (see survey)
  • Work on the DRG outside of scheduled meeting times for 3 hours 
  • Graded credit/no-credit for 2 credits (3 hours per credit = e.g., 3 hours of meetings + 3 hours of outside work = 2 CR)

Students in the DRG will:

  • Co-create, workshop, facilitate, and monitor weekly ARC activities with participants
  • Collect participant data and write observational memos based on participants’ weekly responses
  • Collaborate on qualitative data analysis through grounded theory open-coding and research memos

Applications to this DRG are now closed. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Samuel So via email ( or HCDE Slack.

Winter 2022


Advised by Sucheta Ghoshal
Facilitated by Nat Mengist

Winter 2022 — time TBD
One credit seminar

This DRG is at capacity for winter quarter and no longer accepting applications.

“The Challenges of the ‘Semester Slam’ are: Unstructured time; Varied and time-consuming commitments; The tendency to unconsciously prioritize seemingly urgent, unimportant tasks and other needs while neglecting our own health, well-being, relationships, and long-term success; Lack of clarity about how much time research and writing tasks actually take; Institutional cultures where everyone works all the time.” [1]

“Within the Yoruba culture, the world is first and foremost understood as a field of dynamic flows of experiences, a space of visible and invisible, destructive and creative encounters. Its divinities and ancestors are governed by the same laws as humans and are placed into the fourth dimension: the transitional space between the past, present, and future. Immersion into the cosmos allows one to overcome the anxiety and anguish these shifting flows of forces generate, and helps one to better understand the cosmos.” [2]

[1]  Anthony Ocampo, “SKILL #1: Every Semester Needs a Plan” (Webinar, National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, Detroit, MI, January 14, 2021),

[2] Felwine Sarr, Afrotopia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019), 84,

As the epigraphs above suggest, this directed research group hopes to create a collaborative space to discuss and critically engage with the institutional reality of time. Time has been positioned as an essential currency by the commodity cultures of global capitalism and white supremacist domination. Grounded in this historical, socioeconomic, and cultural understanding, we aim to question some of the common assumptions underlying the institutionalized realities of time that get inscribed in the design (processes and outcomes) of popular technologies.

Questions that interest us include, but are not limited to: what does it mean to “spend time” or “save time”?; do we have “all the time in the world,” or is time “short”?; how did the phrases "time is money" and "colored people's time" come into vernacular discourse?; and finally, how might we enable these (and many other) temporal interventions to create time that works for liberation, rather than against liberation?

Toward these ends, we strive to generate the following learning outcomes in this space:

  • Exploring the historical range of temporal technocultures: The content of TIAT is structured in order to raise collective consciousness about the plurality of temporal philosophies across history and culture: specifically Black, indigeneous, and other liberatory engagements with time that predate the social reality of time manufactured by racial capitalism.
  • Evaluating the moral and material worth of temporally-situated claims: Furthering our critical examination of temporal technocultures of the present day in white, Western contexts, we will study how popular expressions like “time is money” leads to investing moral and material value into something as intangible and superfluous as time.
  • Experimenting with technological mediations of time and tempo: Finally, we will learn to leverage insights from Black, indigeneous technocultures of time (“colored people’s time”) through thoughtful experimentation with the mediating functionality of rhythm, gesture, and animation in order to practice instantiating temporal formations committed to compassion over profit.

TIAT borrows from Kirsty M. Robertson’s “clutter curating” style of collaborative teaching and learning. The first half of the quarter focuses on guided research through shared readings and facilitator-led discussion (curated). This will prepare us for self-determined research through independent readings and participant-led discussion in the second half of the quarter (cluttered).

Weekly commitment includes (1) participating in an hour-long synchronous session with (2) two hours of asynchronous thinking/producing between sessions, which will be held remotely via Zoom. This DRG is at capacity for winter quarter and no longer accepting applications.

Spring 2021

Speculating Beyond Data Capitalism

Led by HCDE PhD student Caitie Lustig, co-sponsored by Professors Daniela Rosner and Sucheta Ghoshal

In this DRG, we will take a critical look at the labor of data workers and its relationship to wider systems of oppression. Data are essential for the creation and functioning of the software we use every day, but how are data produced, managed, and cleaned? Who does that labor and under what conditions?

We will read about and discuss topics such as data capitalism, data colonialism, the labor that goes into producing and managing data, the materiality of data and the work needed to maintain and repair its physical infrastructures, and designing for alternatives. These readings will be contextualized in case studies on different kinds of data labor, such as Amazon Mechanical Turk workers who train machine learning models and content moderators on social media platforms.

This DRG has three objectives: (1) to discuss these topics through the lenses of anti-capitalism, post-colonial theory, feminist technoscience, and critical data studies, (2) to write design fictions to speculate about alternative futures, and (3) to learn about other methods that we can use in our future work.

Format and output of the DRG:

This DRG is 2-3 credits.

Over the course of the quarter, we will discuss readings, and some weeks we will have researchers and/or activists join us as discussants. In the latter half of the quarter, we will write and workshop short design fictions as tools for thinking about how to design more equitable alternatives and provide critiques of existing systems.

At the end of the DRG, we will share out our design fictions, potentially as a contribution to a conference or journal, or as its own website.