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Btihaj Ajana

Professor Btihaj Ajana

Professor of Ethics and Digital Culture

Research interests

  • Digital

Biography

Btihaj is an international scholar and media practitioner in the fields of digital culture and social analysis. Her academic research is interdisciplinary in nature and focuses on the intersections between technology, biopolitics and ethics. She looks at these in various contexts including developments in border technologies and biometric identity systems, digital health and self-tracking practices, and museum cultures.

Btihaj’s recent works include a project on the Quantified Self and health tracking via a Marie Curie Fellowship she was awarded at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies and a project on the politics of immunity and Covid-19 supported by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities Research Fund. She is recipient of the Digital Future Institute Fellowship (2024-2025), developing a new project on biometric AI and its application in governmental and consumer spheres.

In addition to her academic work, Btihaj uses filmmaking as a way of communicating her research to the general public. Her films include Quantified Life; Surveillance Culture; Fem's Way; and Borderscapes.

Btihaj holds a BA (Hons) with First Class in Media Studies and Computing Science from London South Bank University, an MA with Distinction in Digital Media from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where she worked under the supervision of Professor Nikolas Rose. Prior to joining King’s College London in 2010, she taught sociology at the LSE and worked with media organisations specialising in factual programming about the Middle East.

Research Interests and PhD Supervision

  • Digital technologies and identification systems
  • Philosophies of subjectivity, identity and selfhood
  • Digital health and self-tracking
  • Politics of borders and migration
  • Museums and curation

Btihaj’s research interests are concerned with the ethical, political and ontological aspects of technological developments and their intersection with everyday cultures. She has written extensively on the effects of digital technologies on issues of identity, embodiment, governance and cultural representation. She is the author of Governing through Biometrics: The Biopolitics of Identity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and editor of Self-Tracking: Empirical and Philosophical Investigations (Springer, 2018), Metric Culture: Ontologies of Self-Tracking Practices (Emerald, 2018), and The Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (with Joaquim Braga and Simone Guidi) (Emerald, 2021).

Btihaj has supervised various PhD projects on themes such as gender and contemporary art, self-tracking and digital health, social media affordances, race and technology, and phenomenology of illness and online platforms.

For more details, please see Btihaj's full research profile.

Teaching

Btihaj developed the MA programme in Digital Culture and Society at the Department of Digital Humanities. She currently teaches modules on critical approaches to digital media, embodiment and identity, and the representations of digital culture in film.

She was recently the Pro Vice Dean of Academic Portfolio overseeing curriculum development and provision across the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. She previously held the roles of Education Lead and Diversity and Inclusion Lead at the Department of Digital Humanities. In 2020, she became Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Btihaj has collaborated with various artists and cultural organisations to stimulate new ideas and creative output, combining academic research with artistic elements. Some examples of her collaborations include:

  • Euro-vision: a collaboration with artists, Audrey Samson and Francisco Gallardo, involving an art-led enquiry into the politics of immigration policies and border surveillance in Morocco and Europe. See video summary and podcast.
  • Héroes Anónomos: a collaboration with OTOXO, a Barcelona-based film production company, involving the making of series of short films commissioned by the cultural magazine BCN Mes.
  • 1984: a collaboration with Headlong Theatre on their adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, involving putting into creative practice some of Btihaj’s academic research on issues of surveillance and technology, and the co-creation of the Digital Double app.
  • (Re)Creating Culture: a collaboration with various UK and Gulf institutions, looking at the changing role of curators and issues of audience engagement and inclusion in museum practices.

Btihaj is a founding member of the Digital Wellbeing Society led by The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). She is also board member of project, BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds, at Uppsala University, and various academic networks and associations such as Surveillance and Society Network and Consumer and Organisational Digital Analytics (CODA).

She has made guest appearances on a number of international media outlets and high-profile events including the BBC Radio programme, Thinking Allowed; the United Nations summit, ID2020; the New Statesman; the Cycling Weekly magazine; Ny Tid; Cheltenham Science Festival; and Sync Summit 2024.

Btihaj has also been advising industries and governmental agencies, such as European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Sky TV, and Sanitas on issues of responsible technology and digital ethics.

She is Associate Editor of Quantified Selves and Societies Series, Bristol University Press.

    Research

    giammarco-zeH-ljawHtg-unsplash
    Centre for Philosophy and Art

    The Centre for Philosophy and Visual Arts aims to bring together academics, artists, curators and gallerists to explore the connections between philosophy, theory and the visual arts.

    Header
    Centre for Technology and the Body

    Shaping stories of embodied technology: from the plough to the touchscreen.

    42564057_presentation-wide
    The Centre for the Humanities and Health

    A multidisciplinary forum interfacing the humanities, health, science & society.

    News

    New Institute Fellows for Digital Futures announced

    Four researchers awarded Institute Fellowships from the Digital Futures Institute for the 2024-25 cohort.

    Four images in a rectangle of Professor Btihaj Ajana, Dr Daniel Chávez Heras, Dr Jonathan Gray and Dr Dan Nicolau

    Professor Btihaj Ajana publishes new book on the quantification of bodies in health

    A new book, ‘The Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives’ edited by King’s College London Professor Btihaj Ajana with Simone Guidi...

    Book Cover_Ajana

    King's College London Lecturer Dr Btihaj Ajana publishes new book, Metric Culture

    King's College London Lecturer Dr Btihaj Ajana publishes new book, Metric Culture.

    Metric Culture: Ontologies of Self-Tracking Practices

    Btihaj Ajana's 'Surveillance Culture'

    Btihaj Ajana and co-director Anders Albrechtslund explore contemporary forms of surveillance in a new film.

    Surveillance Culture

    Btihaj Ajana's "Quantified Life" shortlisted for the Arts and Humanities Research Council's prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards

    Watch a new 13-min documentary film entitled "Quantified Life" by Dr Btihaj Ajana, created in connection with her current research into digital health and...

    Quantified Life

    Dr Btihaj Ajana awarded the prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship

    Congratulations to Dr Btihaj Ajana who has been awarded the prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship (COFUND scheme).

    Quantified Self

      Research

      giammarco-zeH-ljawHtg-unsplash
      Centre for Philosophy and Art

      The Centre for Philosophy and Visual Arts aims to bring together academics, artists, curators and gallerists to explore the connections between philosophy, theory and the visual arts.

      Header
      Centre for Technology and the Body

      Shaping stories of embodied technology: from the plough to the touchscreen.

      42564057_presentation-wide
      The Centre for the Humanities and Health

      A multidisciplinary forum interfacing the humanities, health, science & society.

      News

      New Institute Fellows for Digital Futures announced

      Four researchers awarded Institute Fellowships from the Digital Futures Institute for the 2024-25 cohort.

      Four images in a rectangle of Professor Btihaj Ajana, Dr Daniel Chávez Heras, Dr Jonathan Gray and Dr Dan Nicolau

      Professor Btihaj Ajana publishes new book on the quantification of bodies in health

      A new book, ‘The Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives’ edited by King’s College London Professor Btihaj Ajana with Simone Guidi...

      Book Cover_Ajana

      King's College London Lecturer Dr Btihaj Ajana publishes new book, Metric Culture

      King's College London Lecturer Dr Btihaj Ajana publishes new book, Metric Culture.

      Metric Culture: Ontologies of Self-Tracking Practices

      Btihaj Ajana's 'Surveillance Culture'

      Btihaj Ajana and co-director Anders Albrechtslund explore contemporary forms of surveillance in a new film.

      Surveillance Culture

      Btihaj Ajana's "Quantified Life" shortlisted for the Arts and Humanities Research Council's prestigious 2017 Research in Film Awards

      Watch a new 13-min documentary film entitled "Quantified Life" by Dr Btihaj Ajana, created in connection with her current research into digital health and...

      Quantified Life

      Dr Btihaj Ajana awarded the prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship

      Congratulations to Dr Btihaj Ajana who has been awarded the prestigious Marie Curie Fellowship (COFUND scheme).

      Quantified Self