Professor Mark Graham

Mark Graham is a geographer that focuses on economic development, labour, power, participation, and representation.


Tel: +44 (0)1865 287203

Mark Graham is the Professor of Internet Geography at the OII, a Faculty Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, a Senior Research Fellow at Green Templeton College, and an Associate in the University of Oxford’s School of Geography and the Environment.

He has published articles in major geography, communications, and urban studies journals, and his work has been covered by the Economist, the BBC, the Washington Post, CNN, the Guardian, and many other international newspapers and magazines. He is an editorial board member of Information, Communication, and SocietyGeo:Geography, Environment and Planning A, and Big Data & Society.  In 2014, he was awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant to lead a team to study ‘knowledge economies’ in Sub-Saharan Africa over five years.

He leads a range of research projects spanning topics between digital labour, the gig economy, internet geographies, and ICTs and development; and is accepting PhD students with an interest in any of that work.

He has spent the last few years investigating the implications of new types of digital labour and online freelancing for workers in the Global South. This research is ongoing in his team’s research on outsourcing and microwork. At the moment, the tens of millions of workers who do digital work do so in a largely unregulated and socially disembedded way. This clearly benefits some workers, but we should also worry about a race to the bottom occurring as ever more people come online.

He also teaches a course at the OII called ‘ICT and Development‘ that focuses on the winners and losers in the contexts of rapidly changing global connectivity. His current research on this topic looks at digital entrepreneurship and the ways that conditions in African cities shape practices of local entrepreneurs (as part of a large project with Nicolas Friederici about African ‘knowledge economies‘). Previous research has focused on how the internet can impact production networks (of tea, tourism, and outsourcing) in East Africa, and asked who wins and loses from those changes. He also co-founded and leads the ‘Connectivity, Inclusion, and Inequality‘ and ‘Big Data and Human Development‘ research clusters at Oxford.

Digital Geographies his most long-standing research area. He ask how people and places are ever more defined by, and made visible through, not only their traditional physical locations and properties, but also their virtual attributes and digital shadows. If the places that we live in are increasingly digital, then there are important questions about who controls, and has access to, our digitally-augmented and digitally-mediated worlds. He has written extensively about this topic in both the academic and popular press. He also uses a lot of internet geography maps to tell this story.

He is grateful to have had much of my research funded by a donors such as the European Research Council, the ESRC, the British Academy, and the Leverhulme Trust. He is also fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and collaborate with a diverse group of wonderful scholars and thinkers throughout his career.

Areas of Interest for Doctoral Supervision

Big data,  cultural industries, digital divides, ICT4D, inequality, innovation, open data, public policy, social media, labour, markets, digital labour, geography, transparency, participation, Africa, economic geography, global production networks, ethical consumption, power

Research interests

Internet Geography, ICT for development, digital labour, globalization, economic geography, transportation and communications, social theory, transparency, user-generated content, zombies

Select Current Writing

For more of his writing, please visit his full list of publications.

Positions held at the OII

  • Professor of Internet Geography, July 2016 –
  • Senior Research Fellow and Associate Professor, May 2014 – June 2016
  • Senior Research Fellow, August 2013 – May 2014
  • Director of Research, October 2012 – December 2013
  • Research Fellow, October 2009 – July 2013

Students supervised at the OII

Current students

Past students

Latest blog posts

Current projects

Past projects

  • Big Data and Human Development

    Participants: Professor Mark Graham, Dr Fabian Braesemann

    The big data and human development research network aims to investigate the potential uses of 'big data' for advancing human development and addressing equity gaps.

  • Development and Broadband Internet Access in East Africa

    Participants: Professor Mark Graham, Dr Laura Elizabeth Mann, Dr Christopher Foster, Professor Tim Waema, Charles Katua, Dr Felix Akorli, Claude Bizimana

    By using surveys, interviews and in-depth observations, this project examined the expectations and stated potentials of broadband Internet in East Africa and compared those expectations to on-the-ground effects that broadband connectivity is having.

  • Does Wikipedia represent ‘the sum of all human knowledge’? Examining the geographical scope of a peer-produced encyclopedia

    Participants: Professor Mark Graham, Dr Heather Ford, Brent Hecht, Dave Musicant, Shilad Sen

    This project aims to develop a set of lenses for analyzing Wikipedia’s geographical scope whilst employing a reflexive analytical process to expose the makings of the ‘big data’ that we will produce.

  • Geography of Digital Inequality

    Participants: Professor Mark Graham, Dr Grant Blank, Claudio Calvino

    This project combined OxIS and census data to produce the first detailed geographic estimates of Internet use across the UK.

  • Interactive Visualizations for Teaching, Research, and Dissemination

    Participants: Professor Helen Margetts, Professor Mark Graham, Dr Scott A. Hale, Dr Monica Bulger, Joshua Melville

    "InteractiveVis" aims to support easy creation of interactive visualisations for geospatial and network data by researchers: it will survey existing solutions, build currently missing features, and smooth over incompatibilities between existing libraries.

  • Microwork and Virtual Production Networks in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia

    Participants: Professor Mark Graham, Dr Isis Hjorth, Professor Vili Lehdonvirta, Dr Alex J Wood, Professor Helena Barnard

    This project aims to understand the implications of gig economy and online freelancing for economic development.

  • Using Twitter to Map and Measure Online Cultural Diffusion

    Participants: Professor Mark Graham, Dr Scott A. Hale, Devin Gaffney, Dr Ning Wang

    This project is using Twitter data to comprehensively uncover where Internet content is being created; whether the amount of content created in different places is changing over time; and how content moves across time and space in the Social Web.

  • Who represents the Arab world online? Mapping and measuring local knowledge production and representation in the Middle East and North Africa

    Participants: Dr Bernie Hogan, Professor Mark Graham, Richard Farmbrough, Clarence Singleton, Dr Heather Ford, Dr Ilhem Allagui, Dr Ali Frihida, Ahmed Medhat Mohamed

    Using Wikipedia to explore the participation gap between those who have their say, and those whose voices are pushed to the side, in representations of the Arab world online.



Conference papers

  • Wood, A., Graham, M., Lehdonvirta, V., Barnard, H. and Hjorth, I. (2016) "Virtual Production Networks: Fixing Commodification and Disembeddedness", Development Studies Association 2016. DSA 2016: Development Studies Association Conference.
  • Ojanpera, S., Graham, M., Straumann, R. and De Sabbata, S. (2016) "Measuring the Contours of the Global Knowledge Economy with a Digital Index", Development Studies Association Conference.
  • Wood, A., Graham, M. and Lehdonvirta, V. (2016) "The new frontier of outsourcing: online labour markets and the consequences for poverty in the Global South.", Work, Employment and Society Conference. SAGE Publications (UK and US).
  • Wood, A., Graham, M., Lehdonvirta, V., Barnard, H. and Hjorth, I. (2016) "Virtual Production Networks: Fixing Commodification and Disembeddedness", GPNs and social upgrading: labour and beyond - Workshop.
  • Kassi, O.A., Lehdonvirta, V., Graham, M., Barnard, H. and Hjorth, I. (2016) “Not a Lot of People Know Where It Is”: Liabilities of Origin in Online Contract Work. Collective Intelligence, NYU, New York, 31 May – 2 September 2016.
  • Smart, C., Donner, J., Graham, M. and ACM (2016) ""Connecting the world from the sky": Spatial discourses around Internet access in the developing world", PROCEEDINGS OF THE EIGHTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES AND DEVELOPMENT (ICTD 2016).
  • Sen, S.W., Ford, H., Musicant, D.R., Graham, M., Keyes, O.S.B., Hecht, B. and Machinery, A.C. (2015) "Barriers to the Localness of Volunteered Geographic Information", CHI 2015: PROCEEDINGS OF THE 33RD ANNUAL CHI CONFERENCE ON HUMAN FACTORS IN COMPUTING SYSTEMS. 197-206.
  • Lehdonvirta, V., Barnard, H., Graham, M. and Hjorth, I. (2014) "Online labour markets - levelling the playing field for international service markets?", IPP2014: Crowdsourcing for Politics and Policy conference, University of Oxford,.
  • Zook, M., Graham, M. and Shelton, T. (2011) "Analyzing global cyberscapes: Mapping geo-coded Internet information", ACM International Conference Proceeding Series. 522-530.

Journal articles



  • Ojanpera, S. and Graham, M. (2017) Africa's digital knowledge economy worrying. SciDev.Net.
  • Graham, M. (2015) Digital work signals a global race to the bottom. SciDev.Net.
  • Zook, M., Shelton, T., Poorthuis, A., Donohue, R., Wilson, M., Graham, M. and Stephens, M. (2015) What would a floating sheep map?. Lexington, KY: Oves Natantes Press.
  • Wood, A., Graham, M., Anwar, M. and Ramizo Jr, G. Minimum wages on online labour platforms: a response to the ETUI and IG Metall's request for comment.

Internet publications

  • Graham, M. and Wood, A. (2016) Why the digital gig economy needs co-ops and unions. openDemocracy.


  • Ojanpera, S. and Graham, M. (2017) Africa’s digital knowledge economy worrying.
  • Economic Development in the Digital Age

    Introducing the debates and practices surrounding ICT uses in the Global South and Global North, drawing on Anthropology, Development Studies, Economics, Geography and History to examine the theoretical and conceptual frameworks that underpin development.