Kavita Ilona Nayar, M.A., is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.
Her dissertation explores computer-mediated intimacy and erotic labor - specifically adult webcam modeling and sugar dating - as part of a growing culture of sexual entertainment and leisure and a largely overlooked way women are participating, and making money, in the digital cultural economy.
Sex industries have changed dramatically in recent years, yet research on both sex work and digital culture fails to capture these changes and the experiences of women who choose to engage in online communities for adult webcam modeling and sugar dating. As sexual commerce becomes more mainstream, diversified, and integrated with other service, tourism, and tech industries, existing research disproportionately focuses on sex trafficking and poverty as the primary determinants for working in sex industries, leading to skewed understandings of who performs certain forms of sex work, why, and what this work entails.
Nayar's study addresses this gap in the research by drawing on ethnographic and qualitative approaches to better understand what women do in these roles, the constraints and possibilities they experience, the meanings and values that find expression, and what their experiences and perspectives reveal about intimacy and work in "the digital age." This research grapples with the contested social value of sex work and makes salient the complex and constrained ways women claim sexual and economic sovereignty doing it. More broadly, it sheds light on historical shifts and trends in intimate relations, gender politics, and labor in the contemporary United States.
Nayar has also written about reality television audiences - specifically reception of a gendered performance of self-branding, labor, and authenticity; media literacy initiatives; and media representation of Detroit, MI and the cultural politics of collective memory after the 2008 financial crisis. Her work has been published in Feminist Media Studies, the Journal of Gender Studies, the Communication Review, and the Journal of Popular Culture.
She has taught courses on writing, consumer culture, and media effects in the Department of Communication at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She currently teaches in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College.
Before coming to UMass Amherst, Nayar received an M.A. in Broadcasting, Telecommunications, and Mass Media and a graduate certificate in Women's Studies from Temple University and a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Michigan.