1509200211 1.NEF.pI am interested in digital culture and communication in a transnational context, including but not limited to media and technology in everyday life, digital media and health, queer digital culture and activism, critical big data and algorithm studies, as well as Chinese media and politics.

My current research project (with Dr Lianrui Jia and Dr Shuaishuai Wang) engages with the theoretical, methodological, and empirical challenges of studying different kinds of short-video apps (e.g., TikTok/Douyin, Kuaishou, and Instagram) and their environments, cultures, and politics. Drawing upon digital and algorithmic ethnography, the project aims to understand how digital platforms and their algorithmic processes (re)configure the power relations that structure everyday life, particularly in relation to gender, sexuality, health, wellbeing, and youth culture.

My recent articles “Women on and Behind Chinese Entertainment Television” (2022) and “Watching National Treasure, Creating Danmei Tongren” (2022) continue to explore how gender and sexual politics operate within global mediascapes.

My current research interests include:

  • Queer studies, methods, and pedagogies
  • Critical health communication: digital media, health and wellbeing
  • Digital and algorithmic ethnography
  • Youth culture and TikTok/Douyin
  • Female and queer fan communities
  • Internationalizing media studies: digital Asia/China as method
  • Media, conflict and extremism

I welcome PhD proposals in the areas of digital culture and communication, cultural and critical media studies, as well as the study of global media, culture and politics. I specifically welcome applicants with good qualitative, ethnographic and/or digital research skills. I am particularly interested in and currently available for PhD supervision in the following areas:

  • Gender, sexuality and media cultures
  • LGBTQ studies
  • Media, health and wellbeing
  • Cultural politics of big data, algorithms and platforms
  • Social media in everyday life
  • Transnational media fan studies
  • Chinese media, politics and society

If you are considering a PhD in one of the above areas, please feel free to send an email to o.zhou@kent.ac.uk.

You can watch an invited presentation on “Algorithmic Gay Sexualities on Douyin” I gave recently as part of the “Digital Bodies” public lecture series at the Centre for Gender Studies, Lancaster University. The guest talk is recorded and published on the centre’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT95zUZKQaM&t=13s.