Biography

Kira Allmann is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Media Law and Policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. Her current research focuses on digital inequality — how the ubiquitous digitization of our everyday lives is leaving people behind and what people are doing to fix it at a grassroots level. As the internet becomes increasingly essential to the fulfillment of a well-rounded human life, exclusion from the internet due to lack of access or literacy exacerbates other forms of gender-based, racial, geographic, and socio-economic marginalization and disenfranchisement. As an anthropologist, Kira uses ethnographic methods with people who are closing the digital divide from the bottom up, in their communities. She runs two research projects: (1) understanding the human geography of community networks (internet networks owned and operated by local communities) and (2) examining the role of public libraries in providing free digital services. Her work aims at developing more human-centered approaches to and policies for access to technology. 

Kira is also the Communications Director at the Oxford Human Rights Hub and a research partner of the Whose Knowledge? campaign, which works to center the knowledge of marginalized communities on the web and raise awareness of the digital exclusions that keep the majority of the world from participating fully in digital knowledge creation and curation.

She completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, where her dissertation focused on how mobility between online and offline spaces constituted a practice of resistance during and after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Between 2011 and 2015, Kira conducted ethnographic research in Egypt, blending online and offline qualitative methods, to investigate how the use of digital technologies by Egyptian youth were transforming virtual and physical spaces in the city of Cairo. 

Education

DPhil, Oriental Studies (Islamic World), University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

MPhil (with Distinction), Modern Middle Eastern Studies, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

BA, Government and Linguistics, The College of William and Mary, Virginia, USA

Twitter: @KiraAllmann

 

Publications

Recent additions

  • K Allmann and Grant Blank, 'Rethinking digital skills in the era of compulsory computing: methods, measurement, policy and theory' (2021) Information, Communication & Society
    DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1874475
    Around the world, digital platforms have become the first – or only – option for many everyday activities. The United Kingdom, for instance, is implementing a ‘digital-by-default’ e-government agenda, which has steadily digitized vital services such as taxes, pensions, and welfare. This pervasive digitization marks an important shift in the relationship between society and computing; people are compelled to use computers and the internet in order to accomplish the basic tasks. We suggest that this era of compulsory computing demands new ways of measuring and theorizing about digital skills, which remain a crucial dimension of the digital divide. In this article, we re-examine the theory and measurement of digital skills, making three contributions to understanding of how digital skills are encountered, acquired, and conceptualized. First, we introduce a new methodology to research skills: participant-observation of novices in the process of learning new skills along with interviews with the people who help them. Our ethnographically informed method leads us to a second contribution: a different theory of skills, which identifies three primary characteristics: (1) sequence, (2) simultaneity, and, most importantly, (3) path abstraction. Third, we argue that these characteristics suggest the need to change current ways skills are measured, and we also discuss the policy implications of this empirically informed theory.
  • S. Fredman, S. Atrey, K Allmann and M. Campbell, Gender Equality and COVID-19 (Submission to the UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights 2020)

Journal Article (2)

K Allmann and Grant Blank, 'Rethinking digital skills in the era of compulsory computing: methods, measurement, policy and theory' (2021) Information, Communication & Society
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2021.1874475
Around the world, digital platforms have become the first – or only – option for many everyday activities. The United Kingdom, for instance, is implementing a ‘digital-by-default’ e-government agenda, which has steadily digitized vital services such as taxes, pensions, and welfare. This pervasive digitization marks an important shift in the relationship between society and computing; people are compelled to use computers and the internet in order to accomplish the basic tasks. We suggest that this era of compulsory computing demands new ways of measuring and theorizing about digital skills, which remain a crucial dimension of the digital divide. In this article, we re-examine the theory and measurement of digital skills, making three contributions to understanding of how digital skills are encountered, acquired, and conceptualized. First, we introduce a new methodology to research skills: participant-observation of novices in the process of learning new skills along with interviews with the people who help them. Our ethnographically informed method leads us to a second contribution: a different theory of skills, which identifies three primary characteristics: (1) sequence, (2) simultaneity, and, most importantly, (3) path abstraction. Third, we argue that these characteristics suggest the need to change current ways skills are measured, and we also discuss the policy implications of this empirically informed theory.
K Allmann, 'Mobile Revolution: Toward a History of Technology, Telephony and Political Activism in Egypt' (2015) CyberOrient
This article examines the use of everyday mobile technologies, and mobile telephony in particular, in political activism and protest during the 2011 Egyptian uprisings and throughout its continuing aftermath. The Arab revolutions have their own, now familiar, nomenclature, derived from the semantics of revolution and the digital age. Much of the language used to describe and analyze events in the Middle East has emphasized the “newness” of the technologies of protest and coordination and the uniquely 2.0 characteristics of these political movements. This article confronts this narrative, exploring the role of mobile telephony in Egypt during an ongoing period of political upheaval by moving away from the question of what is “new” or “revolutionary” toward what is ordinary put toward revolutionary ends. The article argues that the Arab Spring presents a crucial opportunity to interrogate and deconstruct the hybrid ecology of people and technological tools. By exploring several specific ways in which mobile telephony has played a role in the Egyptian revolution, this article demonstrates how a fixation on newness not only tells an incomplete story of this technologically mediated revolution but also undermines the ongoing practices of historicizing it.

Report (1)

S. Fredman, S. Atrey, K Allmann and M. Campbell, Gender Equality and COVID-19 (Submission to the UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights 2020)

Internet Publication (7)

Other (1)

Review (1)

Research programmes

Research projects

Research Interests

  • Community internet networks
  • Autonomous infrastructure
  • Human rights in the information society
  • Environmental impact of digital technologies
  • Political economy of information and communication technologies (especially in the Middle East and North Africa)
  • Class and mobility between the online and the offline (especially in the Middle East and North Africa)
  • 2011 Egyptian revolution and counter-revolution

News articles for Kira Allmann

Image of the cover of the Oxfordshire Digital Inclusion Project Report (2021)
10 Jun 2021

Oxford study led by Dr Kira Allmann (CSLS) calls for greater government support for public libraries to help bridge digital divide

QRX Poster
17 May 2021

Tickets on Sale for ‘The Stars are Brighter Here’, the Queer Rural X theatrical play

Cover page of the Parliamentary POSTnote on Digital Skills from May 7th, 2021
14 May 2021

Oxfordshire Digital Inclusion Project findings cited in Parliamentary POSTnote

RightsUp Cover Art featuring Shreya Atrey
15 Apr 2021

*NEW* OxHRH Podcast Episode - Understanding Institutional Racism: A Response to the Sewell Report (with Shreya Atrey)

podcast

Image of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Digital Skills Text as a logo
25 Mar 2021

Dr Kira Allmann presents to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Digital Skills

Cover image of journal article in Information, Communication & Society
16 Mar 2021

Oxfordshire Digital Inclusion Project findings published in Information, Communication & Society

RightsUp Promo Isabel Jaramillo Sierra
12 Feb 2021

*NEW* OxHRH Podcast: Gender in Colombia's Peace Transition (with Isabel Jaramillo Sierra)

podcast

RightsUp Cover Art for Rekgotsofetse Chikane
22 Jan 2021

*NEW* OxHRH Podcast Episode: Rhodes Must Fall (with Rekgotsofetse Chikane)

podcast

Promotional image featuring text for the Inside Government Digital Skills and Inclusion Conference
20 Jan 2021

Dr Kira Allmann chairs Inside Government conference on Digital Skills and Inclusion

RightsUp cover art featuring Shea Streeter
11 Dec 2020

*NEW* OxHRH podcast episode: Police Brutality in the United States (with Shea Streeter)

podcast

RightsUp Episode Artwork featuring Savala Trepczynski
04 Dec 2020

*NEW* OxHRH podcast episode: Racial Hierarchy and Role of Whiteness (with Savala Trepczynski)

podcast

RightsUp Cover Art Featuring Foluke Adebisi
30 Oct 2020

*NEW* OxHRH Podcast Episode: A Decolonial Approach to Education and the Law (with Dr Foluke Adebisi)

podcast

RightsUp cover art featuring Nathan Law
16 Oct 2020

*NEW* OxHRH Podcast Episode: The Voice of Hong Kong in Exile (with Nathan Law)

podcast

25 Sep 2020

*NEW* OxHRH Podcast Episode: The Transformative Possibilities of a Constitution (with Joel Modiri and Gautam Bhatia)

podcast

11 Sep 2020

*NEW* OxHRH Podcast Available: The Internet, Climate Change, and Human Rights (with Michael Oghia)

podcast

Sara Davis
24 Jul 2020

New OxHRH podcast episode - The Politics of Global Health Data (with Sara Davis)

podcast

26 Jun 2020

New OxHRH podcast episode - A Reason for Hope: The Pursuit of Restorative Justice in Colombia (with Judge Julieta Lemaitre)

podcast

15 May 2020

New OxHRH podcast episode - The Impact of Covid-19 on Worker's Rights in the UK (with Michael Ford, QC)

podcast

08 May 2020

New OxHRH podcast episode - The Need for Empathy: Understanding India's COVID-19 Lockdown (with Kalpana Kannabiran)

podcast

01 May 2020

New OxHRH podcast episode - Re-writing Chile's Constitution for Human Rights (with Nicolás Espejo Yaksic)

podcast

Pages

Events organised by Kira Allmann

Past events

16 Aug 2021

Monday - 3:00PM

Online Premiere: "Queer Rural Connections" Documentary Short Film

Venue

YouTube

09 Mar 2021

Tuesday - 4:00PM

Collective Strategies for Slow Computing

PCMLP Seminar

Speaker

Rob Kitchin

Speaker Affiliation

Maynooth University

Venue

Online Webinar via Zoom

03 Mar 2021

Wednesday - 4:00PM

Framing the International Criminal Court: Tracking Sentiment in African News Media

PCMLP Seminar

Speaker

Fiona Shen-Bayh

Speaker Affiliation

The College of William & Mary

Venue

Online Webinar via Zoom

23 Feb 2021

Tuesday - 4:00PM

From the back end to the front end: Producing the surveillance adtech ecosystem

PCMLP Seminar

Speaker

Elinor Carmi

Speaker Affiliation

Liverpool University

Venue

Online Webinar via Zoom

17 Nov 2020

Tuesday - 4:00PM

PCMLP Global Media Policy Seminar Series | Technology Does Not Operate in a Vacuum: Experimental Insights into the Impact of Women’s Mobile Phone Ownership on Economic Well-being in Tanzania

Speaker

Philip Roessler

Speaker Affiliation

The College of William and Mary

Venue

Zoom (Registration required)

10 Nov 2020

Tuesday - 4:00PM

PCMLP Global Media Policy Seminar Series | When good is the enemy of great: Rural broadband in a time of COVID

Speaker

Christopher Ali

Speaker Affiliation

University of Virginia

Venue

Zoom (Registration required)

03 Nov 2020

Tuesday - 2:00PM

PCMLP Global Media Policy Seminar Series | We have seen the enemy...and he is us: When engineering culture collides with human rights advocacy online

Speaker

Corinne Cath-Speth

Speaker Affiliation

University of Oxford

Venue

Zoom - Register for the link

Research projects