Melinda Cohoon is an ICFP fellow collaborating with the Miaan Group. She is a PhD candidate in Near & Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Washington writing her dissertation on gamers in Iran, World of Warcraft, and affect theory. Her current research with the help of Miaan investigates internet access conditions from the perspective of Iranian gamers in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI).

Internet censorship and filtering are suppressive methods that not only disrupt access but cause incalculable damage for citizens in material and immaterial ways. With the help of the Miaan Group, the project will consist of cross-analysis of data from Iranian gamers, circumvention tactics, and the state’s territorialization of the internet to reveal how the lives of everyday people are disrupted and transformed in the pursuit of ordinary human rights like internet access.

By focusing on internet connectivity and internet tiering enforced by the IRI’s “Bill for Protection of Cyberspace Users,” the project “Digital Iran” will analyze different types of workarounds like VPNs that are used for circumventing lack of internet access. Melinda aims to clarify gaps among commonly used censorship circumvention tools in Iran to provide here-and-now solutions to internet users in the country. She believes that the outcomes of “Digital Iran” will also assist the internet freedom community and high-risk users elsewhere.