Zizi Papacharissi Named a Fellow of the International Communication Association

UIC Professor Zizi Papacharissi

UIC Professor and Head of the Communications Department, Zizi Papacharissi, joins the ranks of many distinguished scholars at the ICA. Meet her!


Meet Zizi Papacharissi

UIC Professor Zizi Papacharissi was born and raised in Thessaloniki, though she traces her roots to Istanbul, Servia-Monastir, and a historic village on the plains of Mount Olympics. When she was a young girl, she wished to fight for women’s rights.

“When I was 7, my mother gave me Indira Gandhi’s biography to read. I wanted to become a politician and stand up for women’s rights. Then I wanted to become a writer. I didn’t know what to do, but I got a BA in Economics just in case. Shortly after, I started teaching and reading about media, and decided I wanted to become an academic.”

Zizi graduated from Anatolia College in Thessaloniki, a private high school. After, she came to the U.S. “for adventure”. In addition to her adventures, she attended Mount Holyoke College on full scholarship. There, she earned a BA in Economics and Media Studies. She went on to Kent State University, also on scholarship, and studied Communication.

I first interviewed Zizi back in 2012. At that time, she explained that while at Kent, she became interested in what was still a fairly new technology at that time — the internet.

“I wanted to know what the internet meant for democracy and sociality.”

She was also drawn to academia, fascinated by the combined practice of teaching and research. So she looked for a way to bring that all together. With full funding from the University of Texas at Austin, and the generous support of the Onassis Foundation, she pursued her PhD. Zizi graduated in 2000, “the height of the tech bubble”.

She took a position at Temple University in Philadelphia. She was tenured in 2006, and became an Associate Professor. Then UIC recruited her to come to Chicago, as a professor and Communication department head.


UIC Professor Zizi Papacharissi
Professor Zizi Papacharissi. IMAGE: UIC


Sought-after expert

Zizi has collaborated with major corporations such as Apple and Microsoft. She’s become a sought-after expert, and in 2012, the Obama election campaign consulted with her. She sits on the Committee on the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults, funded by the National Academies of Science, the National Research Council, and the Institute of Medicine. Additionally, Zizi is frequently invited as a guest lecturer to speak about her work on social media. She’s lectured at several universities and research institutes around the world.

In 2014, her alma mater, University of Texas at Austin’s Moody College of Communication, bestowed her with the High Impact Scholar award, a coveted award given to alumni.



In addition to her role as an educator and department head, Zizi is an avid researcher and has been published widely. Her work focuses on the social and political consequences of online media. She’s published more than 60 journal articles, and has contributed reviews and chapters to many books.

Zizi puts her expertise to work on the editorial board of fifteen journals. She serves as editor of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, and is the founding and current editor of the new journal, Social Media and Society.

She published her first book in 2009, called, Journalism and Citizenship: New Agendas (Taylor & Francis, 2009). In 2010, she published, A Private Sphere: Democracy in a Digital Age (Polity Press, 2010); and A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (Routledge, 2010). Next came Affective Publics: Sentiment, Technology and Politics (Oxford University Press), a National CommunicatIon Association Human Communication and Technology Division Best Book Award winner. The multi-award-winning book examines online social movements, storytelling practices via social media, and whether these tools lead to political influence, particularly for underrepresented groups.

Her work has been translated into many languages, including Greek, German, Korean, Chinese, Hungarian, Italian, Turkish, and Persian.


International Communications Association

The International Communications Association (ICA) was founded more than 50 years ago by a small group of researchers. Today, the “academic association for scholars interested in the study, teaching, and application of all aspects of human and mediated communication”, is an international organization with more than 4500 members in 80 countries. In 2003, the group became associated with the United Nations as a non-governmental association (NGO).

Last month at the group’s annual conference in San Diego, ICA named Zizi a Fellow. The honor is bestowed in recognition of her “record of scholarly achievement in the study of human and mediated communication and contributions to the association”. Previously-elected fellows from the leading academic association of communication scholars designate the new fellows through a competitive process. At the event, the organization heralded Zizi’s work.

“Professor Papacharissi articulates the world in terms we only better recognize after she has written about them; from the internet as a public sphere long before others had clarified such notions; to her recent exploration of concepts such as affect, hybridity and liminality-to explain the complex tapestry of feeling and storytelling that defines life in the socially mediated moment.”

Zizi spoke about this important accolade.

This award is the international recognition of a lifetime’s work, and as such, it is very gratifying.”


What’s next

In addition to preparing for the launch of her new books, this summer, Zizi is traveling to Berlin and Amsterdam to deliver keynotes at the Freie University and the Royal Academy of the Arts and Sciences Then she’ll head to the historic University of Missouri School of Journalism and Virginia Tech for more keynotes. Then later this summer, she’ll travel to Beijing China, to deliver a keynote on her work on Populism, Affective Publics, and the Media.

Zizi Papacharissi is a trailblazer. Watch for more exciting things to come.


Professor Zizi Papacharissi bio and CV

UIC Department of Communications page


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