Vibha Gokhale

Areas of Interest: 
information economies, expertise and politics of knowledge production, digital media, open culture, identity and activism, science and technology studies

My dissertation research focuses on Wikipedia and open culture. The dissertation analyzes the structure and culture of Wikipedia through the lens of ‘openness,’ a complex construct that is both technical and moral, and invokes ideals of transparency, freedom, efficiency, equal participation, and collaboration. It explores the systemic biases and gaps within the English-language Wikipedia, especially those pertaining to marginalized and indigenous knowledges.

I’m interested in the marked lack of 'diversity' in Wikipedia and other ‘open’ communities, the cultural practices which reinforce this lack, and the implications this has for the 'open' and 'free' knowledge and culture that is produced, as well as the broader implications for notions of citizenship, activism, and democracy. My central argument is that the ways in which 'openness' is articulated and instantiated in these communities can itself foster a culture of exclusiveness.

More broadly, ‘politics of knowledge production’ and ‘identity-based discrimination and activism’ have been the common threads of my academic life. I have a BA in Anthropology and Native American Studies from Colgate University; my undergraduate thesis focused on archives, museums, and representations of indigeneity in North America. At Rice, I have completed the graduate certificate program in Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Currently, I am studying MOOCs and open access publications as a potential second research project. I also volunteer as a qualitative researcher for a NYC-based non-profit, and conduct interviews and surveys with local South Asian groups on a variety of health and wellness topics.

Vibha Gokhale
Graduate Student