Bio & CV

email: jburrell at berkeley dot edu
full CV: PDF – updated October 2021
headshot: here
Twitter: @jennaburrell

Bio: Jenna Burrell is a Professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on how historically and systematically excluded communities adapt digital technologies to meet their needs and to pursue their goals and ideals. She is the co-director of the Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Working Group, which brings together faculty and students from across the UC-Berkeley campus to facilitate research on how algorithmic systems can be designed, used, or regulated to support more equitable and just societies. Burrell is the author of Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana (The MIT Press). She is currently writing up her research findings from a multi-year project about rural communities that host critical Internet infrastructure such as fiber optic cables and data centers. She earned a PhD in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a BA in Computer Science from Cornell University.

fieldwork – Accra, Ghana


Affiliations: Center for African Studies and Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society


Press Coverage / Blog Contributions:

Big Tech Is Coming to Small-Town America, But There’s a Catch – quoted in this article on

Post on the Network Sovereignty blog at MIT — “Are rural data center jobs ‘good’ jobs?

Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand Our Internet, and That’s Okay:
Archivists are working to document our chaotic, opaque, algorithmically complex world—and in many cases, they simply can’tthe Atlantic, referencing my paper on opacity in machine learning algorithms

NPR/Youth Radio: Summer camp where kids interact virtually.

NPR Marketplace: Making a smartphone for just $25.

Online, some are more equal than others: Much is made of the internet being a level playing field. Tell that to the kids in Ghana. – coverage of Invisible Users in The Guardian.

ICTD at the University of California Berkeley, interview for Crossroads: The ACM Magazine for Students. Volume 19, No. 2.

Hotseat: Jenna Burrell, A Portlander researches African internet scams—by actually going to interview the scammers in Ghana., Willamette Week, November 2012, Q&A about studying scammers.

Blatancy and latency: Why internet scams seem so obvious, The Economist, June 2012, brief mention of work on scamming.

Nokia Sets Sights on Developing World, Technology Review, May/June 2011 issue, brief comment on ethnographic work in this context

The Representation of Ghana, May 2, 2011, commenting on the ‘sakawa’ (Internet scamming) phenomenon in Ghana and a recent documentary’s misrepresentation of it – for the blog ‘Africa is a Country’

Professor Receives Grant for Research on Technology in Developing Countries, October 22, 2010, article in the independent student newspaper on NSF grant.

Voice of America News: Digital Frontiers, August 24, 2010, speaking about rumor in the digital age with Host Doug Bernard

City Visions (KALW 91.7), December 7, 2009, “The Sustainable Network: Using the power of the global network to tackle today’s most pressing economic, environmental and social issues” Host Lauren Meltzer

BoingBoing, April 17, 2009, “Can new underwater cables finally connect Africa?” By Lisa Katayama (commenting on East Africa’s Seacom submarine cable)

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