My dearest economic anthropologists,

I am delighted to tell you about this year’s winner of the M. Estellie Smith dissertation award, Kanikka Sersia!

Kanikka is a PhD student at the Geneva Graduate Institute in Switzerland. Her project is entitled, “The making of algorithmic labour in the platform economy.” The abstract is below.

Kanikka will use the grant money to complete dissertation research in Bengaluru, India.

Congratulations, Kanikka! Special thanks to the M. Estellie Smith committee, which is myself, Dr. Dawn Rivers, Dr. Christine Beitl, and almost-doctor Seyma Kabaoglu.

There were a lot of good proposals this year— best wishes for the other applicants.



Bram Tucker
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of Georgia, USA

ABSTRACT: The rise of app-based labour platforms constitutes a paradigmatic shift in the contemporary modes of employment relationship. At the heart of this lies the algorithmic management of work—i.e. Algorithms having the ability to allocate, track, manage, and remunerate the platform workforce. These algorithmic systems are not simply technological artifacts but are also the product of sociocultural dynamics. My doctoral research situates itself at the confluence of these socio-technological forces, that inform the logic of these algorithmic systems. Through an ethnographic study in a platform company building mobility app in Bengaluru’s tech milieu in India, this research aims to explore how software developers, tech capitalists, and the state co-construct the development of an application, with a consequential impact on the livelihoods of app-based workers in the platform economy.