Sasha Costanza-Chock

Sasha Costanza-Chock (they/them or she/her) is Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT, a Faculty Associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, a board member of Allied Media Projects (alliedmedia.org), and the author of numerous articles and two books. Their first book is Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement (MIT Press).

  • Against Reduction

    Designing a Human Future with Machines

    Noelani Arista, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Vafa Ghazavi, Suzanne Kite, Cathryn Klusmeier, Jason Edward Lewis, Archer Pechawis, Jaclyn Sawyer, Gary Zhexi Zhang, and Snoweria Zhang

    Provocative, hopeful essays imagine a future that is not reduced to algorithms.

    What is human flourishing in an age of machine intelligence, when many claim that the world's most complex problems can be reduced to narrow technical questions? Does more computing make us more intelligent, or simply more computationally powerful? We need not always resist reduction; our ability to simplify helps us interpret complicated situations. The trick is to know when and how to do so. Against Reduction offers a collection of provocative and illuminating essays that consider different ways of recognizing and addressing the reduction in our approach to artificial intelligence, and ultimately to ourselves.

    Inspired by a widely read manifesto by Joi Ito that called for embracing the diversity and irreducibility of the world, these essays offer persuasive and compelling variations on resisting reduction. Among other things, the writers draw on indigenous epistemology to argue for an extended “circle of relationships” that includes the nonhuman and robotic; cast “Snow White” as a tale of AI featuring a smart mirror; point out the cisnormativity of security protocol algorithms; map the interconnecting networks of so-called noncommunicable disease; and consider the limits of moral mathematics. Taken together, they show that we should push back against some of the reduction around us and do whatever is in our power to work toward broader solutions.

    • Paperback $20.00
  • Design Justice

    Design Justice

    Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need

    Sasha Costanza-Chock

    An exploration of how design might be led by marginalized communities, dismantle structural inequality, and advance collective liberation and ecological survival.

    The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Knowledge Unlatched and the MIT Press Frank Urbanowski Memorial Fund.

    What is the relationship between design, power, and social justice? “Design justice” is an approach to design that is led by marginalized communities and that aims expilcitly to challenge, rather than reproduce, structural inequalities. It has emerged from a growing community of designers in various fields who work closely with social movements and community-based organizations around the world.

    This book explores the theory and practice of design justice, demonstrates how universalist design principles and practices erase certain groups of people—specifically, those who are intersectionally disadvantaged or multiply burdened under the matrix of domination (white supremacist heteropatriarchy, ableism, capitalism, and settler colonialism)—and invites readers to “build a better world, a world where many worlds fit; linked worlds of collective liberation and ecological sustainability.” Along the way, the book documents a multitude of real-world community-led design practices, each grounded in a particular social movement. Design Justice goes beyond recent calls for design for good, user-centered design, and employment diversity in the technology and design professions; it connects design to larger struggles for collective liberation and ecological survival.

    • Paperback $25.00
  • Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets!

    Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets!

    Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement

    Sasha Costanza-Chock

    An exploration of social movement media practices in an increasingly complex media ecology, through richly detailed cases of immigrant rights activism.

    For decades, social movements have vied for attention from the mainstream mass media—newspapers, radio, and television. Today, many argue that social media power social movements, from the Egyptian revolution to Occupy Wall Street. Yet, as Sasha Costanza-Chock reports, community organizers know that social media enhance, rather than replace, face-to-face organizing. The revolution will be tweeted, but tweets alone do not the revolution make. In Out of the Shadows, Into the Streets! Costanza-Chock traces a much broader social movement media ecology. Through a richly detailed account of daily media practices in the immigrant rights movement, the book argues that there is a new paradigm of social movement media making: transmedia organizing. Despite the current spotlight on digital media, Costanza-Chock finds, social movement media practices tend to be cross-platform, participatory, and linked to action. Immigrant rights organizers leverage social media creatively, even as they create media ranging from posters and street theater to Spanish-language radio, print, and television.

    Drawing on extensive interviews, workshops, and media organizing projects, Costanza-Chock presents case studies of transmedia organizing in the immigrant rights movement over the last decade. Chapters focus on the historic mass protests against the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner Bill; coverage of police brutality against peaceful activists; efforts to widen access to digital media tools and skills for low-wage immigrant workers; paths to participation in DREAM activism; and the implications of professionalism for transmedia organizing. These cases show us how savvy transmedia organizers work to strengthen movement identity, win political and economic victories, and transform public consciousness forever.

    • Hardcover $35.00