Professor Giorgia Aiello

Professor Giorgia Aiello


Some of my current, recent and past projects include:

I received my PhD in Communication from the University of Washington with a doctoral dissertation on the visual communication of European identity. Other recognitions include a four-year Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (2011-2015), the NCA Visual Communication Division's 2012 Outstanding Essay or Book Chapter Award, and the 2010 Urban Communication Foundation Research Incentive Award. From 2013 to 2017 I was Vice Chair and Chair of the Visual Communication Studies Division within the International Communication Association. At the University of Washington I co-founded and co-directed the Urban Archives project, which produced and promoted visual research about the city through a publicly available digital database. In June 2013 I organized the international conference Communication and the City: Voices, Spaces, Media in collaboration with the Urban Communication Foundation and the ECREA Media and the City Temporary Working Group.

My research has been covered in several international media outlets, including twice by The New York Times. I have published a number of articles in major media, communication and cultural studies journals, including New Media and Society, Information, Communication and Society, International Journal of Communication, European Journal of Cultural Studies, Social Semiotics, and Visual Communication. I am currently on the editorial boards of Communication Theory, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Social Semiotics,Visual Communication, Visual Communication Quarterly, and Etnografia e Ricerca Qualitativa.

From January 2017 to the end of November 2019 I was Director of Research and Innovation for the School of Media and Communication, having previously covered the roles of Deputy Director of Research and Programme Leader of the BA Communication and Media.

Selected keynotes and media coverage

"The politics of texture in contemporary capitalism". Keynote at 9ICoM – 9th International Conference on Multimodality, “Multimodality – Moving the Theory Forward”. University of Southern Denmark, August 2018.

"Communicating the city". Opening keynote in the early career researchers conference City Talk: Urban Identities, Mobilities, and Textualities. University of Bern, December 2017.

“What being transgender looks like, according to stock photography”. The New York Times, October 2018.

“These stock photos show masculinity is more than biceps and beer”. Huffington Post, April 2018.

“The new dad: Fathers swap footballs for tiaras as stock photos evolve”. Mashable, December 2017.

“From sex object to gritty woman: The evolution of women in stock photos”. The New York Times, September 2017.

Research interests

My research focuses on the politics of visual, multimodal, and material communication. I am especially interested in how social, cultural, and political identities are formed, how both difference and diversity are negotiated, and how inequalities are maintained or overcome through choices and changes in images, design, and space. In my work, these interests are underpinned by an emphasis on both the problems and potentials of aesthetics in communicating and ultimately also shaping political, social, and cultural identities and agendas. I privilege a critical perspective on issues of cultural production, with an interdisciplinary approach rooted in social semiotics, cultural sociology, and cultural studies.

From 2011 to 2015 my research project Globalization, Visual Communication, Difference was supported by a Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant from the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013).

From October 2020 I will be a Co-I on the three-year AHRC-funded research project Generic Visuals in the News: The Role of Stock Photos and Data Visualizations in Assembling Publics (with PI, Professor C.W. Anderson and Co-I, Professor Helen Kennedy; AHRC Standard Research Grant, AH/T000015/1).

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Communication (University of Washington)
  • MA in Communication and Information Technology (University of Bologna)
  • BA & MA in Communication Studies (University of Bologna)

Professional memberships

  • ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association)
  • ICA (International Communication Association)

Student education

From 2010 to 2019 I led the following modules:

  • Media, Culture and Globalization (MA, core module for the MA International Communication)
  • Critical Studies in Visual Communication (MA)
  • International Communication (undergraduate)

I regularly contribute guest lectures to a variety of modules, including:

  • Introduction to Media and Communication Theory (undergraduate)
  • Thinking Photographically: Developing Approaches to Photography (undergraduate)
  • Feminism, Media and Identity (undergraduate and MA)
  • Dissertation and Research Methods (undergraduate and MA)

I also supervise undergraduate, MA, and PhD dissertations.

Research groups and institutes

  • Visual Media and Communication

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>