Erika Polson

Erika Polson

Associate Professor

Director of Internships

What I do

Associate Professor, Media, Film and Journalism Studies Director of Internships for MFJS Director, MA in International & Intercultural Communication


cultural communication, digital media, globalization

Professional Biography

I joined the University of Denver in 2011, coming from Saint Louis University's Madrid campus, where I was a professor from 2009 to 2011. I teach in the strategic communication, media studies, and international/intercultural communication programs in the MFJS department. My research focuses on globalization and media, and more specifically on digital media and global mobility, and appears in publications such as Media, Culture & Society, Communication, Culture & Critique, the International Journal of Communication, and New Media & Society, among other journals and edited volumes. I am the author of “Privileged mobilities: Professional migration, geo-social media, and a new global middle class” (Peter Lang, 2016) and co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Media & Class.


  • Ph.D., Mass Communication, The Pennsylvania State University, 2009
  • MA, Integrated Marketing Communications, Emerson College, 1999
  • BA, Liberal Studies, Oregon State University, 1996

Professional Affiliations

  • International Communication Association
  • International Association of Media and Communication Research
  • Association of Internet Research


Since my book, Privileged Mobilities, came out in 2016, I've continued to work on the nexus between digital media and the production of 'place.' Through a series of case studies, I'm working to critically examine how a nexus of location-aware platforms and social media serve to connect people (temporarily) to place through the production of experience, and how the growing market for experiences is altering boundaries and creating new and contested claims to places. For example, I recently wrote a chapter (for Papacharissi's The Networked Self, Vol 2) on the growing trend in 'traveling like a local', and how AirBnb, EatWith, Tinder, and many more apps are being used to connect travelers to local experiences; in another chapter (forthcoming in the Routledge Companion to Media & Class, of which I am a co-editor), I explore a range of discourses about being or becoming a digital nomad, and consider them in greater political-economic context of labor and mobility.

In another case study, I'm consider the rise of officially sanctioned street art, as well as street art fairs and events, as a way of creating an "urban experience" to attract visitors into unknown environments, and trace the circulation of these often geo-tagged images as they circulate on Instagram. While some may celebrate the experience of discovering visually impactful art along the walls of former industrial or otherwise "undeveloped" neighborhoods, it is also significant to ask how newly emplaced arrivistes and the images they distribute are implicated in processes of dis-placement and gentrification.

Areas of Research

global middle class
geo-social media
digital placemaking
privileged mobilities

Featured Publications

Polson, E. (2018). ‘Doing’ Local: Place-Based Travel Apps and the Globally Networked Self. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Platforms, Stories, Connections. (Vol. 2). Routledge.
Polson, E. (2016). Negotiating independent mobility: Single female expats in Bangalore. European Journal of Cultural Studies.
Polson, E. (2019). Information SuperCalle: Fixed Mobility on Havana’s WiFi Streets. In R. Wilken, G. Goggin, & H. Horst (Eds.), Location Technologies in International Contexts. New York, NY / London, USA / United Kingdom: Routledge.


Polson, E. (2018). The Socialities of Place-Based Mobile. ICA Annual Conference. Prague, Czech Republic: Place-Based Travel Apps and the Aspiring Local.
Polson, E. (2018). Mobile Girls: Geo-Social Media and the Feminization of Expat Labor. Media, Techno-political Action, and Social Justice Symposium. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University School of Communication and Information.
Polson, E. (2017). "Do You Do Local?” Place-Based Travel Apps and the Exotification of Everyday Life. GeoMedia 2017. Karlstad, Sweden: Department of Geography and Communication, Karlstad University.
Polson, E. (2019). From the tag to the #hashtag: Street art, Instagram, and gentrification. Aesthetics of Gentrification. Portland, OR: Slow Lab at University of Oregon.