Deborah James, Ph.D.

  Assistant Professor
  708-534-3140 ext. 3140
  Office Location: D1436
  College: CAS
  Division of Communication-Visual and Performing Arts

Deborah James holds a Ph.D. in Communication with a focus on new media, the intersection between public memory and transnational lived experience, and women's production practices. Her research interests include participatory media production and emerging digital cultures. She is conducting ongoing field research in Southeastern Europe and is in post-production on a documentary exploring Belgrade's enduring creative energy, where the cultural underground meets the post-industrial city. Her interactive documentary work, (RE)ACTIVE CITIES, was chosen for a Central European University's summer 2015 incubator program. Her research is published in Feminist Media Studies, Journal of Communication, and Studies in Documentary Film.

For Fall 2016 James is collaborating with Dr. Patrick Santoro (TAPS, GSU) on an experimental two-course sequence, PERFORMING BODIES: MEDIATING THE CITY. Utilizing point of view technology such as GoPro cameras in addition to theatre theory and practice, students explore the relationship between media, performance, and the city. Watch the semester unfold here on the class blog


Ph.D. Communication, Wayne State University, 2011

M.A. Media Studies, New School for Social Research, 2003

B.A. Honors Fine Arts and Art History, University of Guelph, 1999


Journal Articles

(* writing as D. James Smith)

James, D. (2015). Drawn out of the gutters: Nina Bunjevac's Fatherland, A collaborative memory. Feminist Media Studies. (15)3. 1-6. DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2015.1031966

James, D. (2013). Social networking Sarajevo Roses: Digital representations of post-conflict civil life in the (former) Yugoslavia. Submitted to Journal of Communication (JOC). Digital early view. DOI: 10.1111/jcom.12057

Ali, S.,James, D., and Vultee, F. (2013). Strike a pose: Comparing Associated Press and UNICEF visual representations of the children of Darfur. African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review. (3)1.

*Smith, D. J. (2009), Big-eyed, wide-eyed, sad-eyed children: Constructing the humanitarian space in social justice documentaries. Studies in DocumentaryFilm. (3)2. 159–175.

Book Chapters

James, D. (2017). Facebook for community, direct action and archive: Diaspora responses to the 2014 floods in the former Yugoslavia. In R. Tsagarousianou and J. Retis (Eds.) The Handbook of Diasporas, Media and Culture. Wiley-Blackwell and IAMCR.

James, D. (2012). What it takes to screen her film: A feminist study of UNESCO's audiovisual E-Platform. In Gajjala, R. (Ed.). Where Have All the Cyberfeminists Gone? New York: Peter Lang.

Other Publications

*Smith, D. J. (2008), Film review: Shake hands with the devil. Scope: An Online Journal of Film & TV Studies.11.

*Smith, D. J. (2007), Catfight in My Name is Earl as a site of feminist resistance. Flow: A Critical Forum on Television and Media Culture. 5:9. Available at < >

Honors and Awards

Excellence Award 2014 – 2015

Provost's High Impact Practices Course Dev'p Grant (Integrating drone technology into media studies), GSU 2013 – 2014

Provost's High Impact Practices Course Development Grant, GSU 2013 – 2014

GSU Research Grant. Fieldwork in Serbia 2013 – 2014

GSU Division Research Release. In support of post-fieldwork project development 2013– 2014

GSU Faculty Summer Institute Tech Grant 2013

GSU Intellectual Life Grant. Media Studies and Social Work connect through experience: A cross discipline transmedia collaboration2013

GSU Intellectual Life Grant. Women make media: Collaboration as public memory 2013

GSU Research Grant. Fieldwork in Montenegro 2012 – 2013

Top Paper award. ICA, Global Communication and Social Change 2011

Top Graduate Student Paper award. ICA,Global Com. and Social Change2011

2nd, Graduate School Research Exhibition, (with Sadaf Ali), Humanities Div.,WSU 2011

Humanities Center Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, WSU 2010 – 2011


Santoro, P., James, D. Panel Co-Chairs. (2016) Illinois Theatre and Communication Association Convention, Naperville, IL.

James, D. and D. Erich. (2015). (RE)ACTIVE CITIES. Central European University (Competitive merit-based project incubator). The City Uploaded: Urban intersections of film and new media. Budapest, Hungary. Beta Project Site:

James, D. and D. Erich. (2015). Featured Speaker / Video installation. Sitting on two stools | ne možeš sjediti na dvije stolice, BiH Diasporic Youth Conference, Chicago, IL.

James, D. (2014). Old current: The social construction of ex-Yugoslavia on YouTube. MWWHA Conference. University Park, IL.

James, D. (2014). All aboard the Ladies Special: A critical analysis of a documentary about a women-only commuter train in India. ICA Conference. Seattle, WA.

James, D. (2013). sitting on two stools | ne možeš sjediti na dvije stolice: (trans. You cannot sit on two stools): Networked between home and the homeland. ICA Conference. London, England.

James, D. (2013). PROVOKE Panel: Disruption and subversion in the digital: Women perform public memory. ICA Conference. London, England.

James D., Erich, D. (2013). sitting on two stools | ne možeš sediti na dve stolice: Digital tactics for negotiating between home and homeland. Documentary Now! Conference. London, England.

James, D. (2013). Disruption and subversion in the digital: Women perform public memory. Gender Matters Conference, GSU / DePaul U, Chicago.

James, D. (2012). The Container Project: Defining locally relevant community media production practice. International Communication Association (ICA) Conference, Phoenix.

James, D. (2012). Control and access embedded in the code: Screening communities of social justice media content and practice. Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference. Boston.

Ali, S., James, D. (2012). Comparing AP images of children in Kosovo vs. Rwanda. Central States Communication Association Conference. Cleveland.

James, D. (2011).Social networking Sarajevo Roses: Digital representations of post-conflict civil life in the (former) Yugoslavia. Top Paper:Global & Com Social Change Division. ICA Conf. Boston.

James, D. (2011). International development documentaries: Institutional representations of women, work, and community. Feminist Scholarship Division. ICA Conference. Boston.

James, D. (2011). Producing Media, producing citizenship: The practice of digitizing the experience of everyday life in Jamaica.Society of Cinema and Media Studies Annual Conference. New Orleans.

Ali, S., James, D. (2011). Photojournalism in Conflict: A Comparison of Associated Press Images of Children in Kosovo versus Rwanda. WSU Graduate School Research Exhibition. 2nd Prize.

James, D. (2010). Developing citizenship from the margins: Digitizing the experience of the everyday as political action in Jamaica. DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. U of Toronto.

Ali, S., James, D. (2010).Strike a pose series: An examination of children in conflict through photojournalism. At WSU Dept. of Comm. Research Colloquium.

Ali, S., James, D., and Vultee, F. (2010). Strike a Pose: Comparing Associated Press and UNICEF Visual Representations. AEJMC Annual Conference, Denver. Presented by Sadaf Ali.

James, D. (2010). The biggest WATT in St. James Town: Marrying co-op radio with co-op housing. Making MediaPublic Conference. York U and Ryerson U. Co-presented with Vernon Smith.

James, D. (2008). Big-eyed, wide-eyed, sad-eyed children: Western consumption of images of distant places. Media, Communication and Humanity Conference. London School of Economics.

James, D. (2008). Engaged scholarship: Taking activism and social justice seriously in our work. Summer Doctoral Seminar, WSU. Invited Panelist.

James, D. (2008). The politics of global warming: Media, morality, and the culture of green in news documentaries. Society of Cinema and Media Studies Conference. Philadelphia.

James, D. (2007). Peeling back the duct tape: Documentary filmmakers respond to the making of the 'War on Terror' public relations campaign. 3rd International Conference on Media Coverage of the 'War on Terror.' London, England.


  • Post conflict media in the former Yugoslavia
  • Emerging digital cultures in post conflict regions
  • Social construction of public memory
  • Women's independent media
  • Media, politics, and human rights
  • Transnational media industries and production practices



  • Ad hoc peer-reviewer. Journal of Communication 2013
  • Ad hoc peer-reviewer. Special Issue of Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture 2013
  • Ad hoc peer-reviewer. PLATFORM: Journal of Media and Communication 2013
  • Faculty Advisor, Phoenix Student Newspaper, GSU 2013 –
  • Carnegie Classification Committee, GSU 2013 –
  • Committee Member: Gender Matters Conference 2014 2013 –
  • Team Member, AC&U Institute on High-Impact Practices, U of Oregon 2012
  • Co-Chair: B.A. Media Studies, New Unit of Study Committee, GSU 2011 –


  • Membership Director, Chicago Public Media, Community Advisory Council 2014 –
  • Vice President, Chicago Public Media, Community Advisory Council 2012-13


  • International Communication Association (ICA) 2011 –

Selected Professional Credits


Interview with Boris Vlastelica of alternative rock band Repetitor, Belgrade, Serbia on their North American debut on FM radio. HOTEL INTERNATIONAL (Aired 08/16/13)

CJAM 99.1 FM

Segment producer, research, pre-interview. 15 min.

Retrieved from at

Interview with Nina Bunjevac, This is Radio Clash - HOTEL INTERNATIONALE Joe Strummer Special (Aired 12/22/12) 

Segment producer. 15 min.
Retrieved from at


ART: OUT & ABOUT. A regional series on the arts in Chicago. Aired Fall 2013, on Comcast channel 16.

GSU Television

Guest artist/On air guest. 30 min. Focusing on opening of Sitting on two Stools | You cannot sit on two stools – video installation.

WATRUFIGHTN4: COMMEMORATING WALTER P. REUTHER, UNION ACTIVIST – Aired December 2009, Detroit Channel 20. 2010 Emmy winner.

UAW and Wayne State

Archival photo/video researcher. 30 min. youth-focused doc posted to companion website for interactive video sharing: