Transnational Informality and HCI


Developments in technologies and transportation are facilitating and sustaining transnational networks around the world that circumvent the closed borders of nation states. This project looks to understand the social and technical infrastructures that shape these networks, along with studying their interaction with new and old technologies.

Existing Design Project: Digital Hawala

Through an ethnographic account of the difficulties faced by the Iranian community living in Toronto, we document the creative ways actors circumvent challenges through leveraging informal social relations. These findings are informing the design phase of the project, where we are creating an informal fintech system that leverages community trust through social regulation within the closely-knit community.

This system will be initially deployed in the Iranian immigrant community in Toronto and will be further adapted and expanded to other immigrant communities in Canada.

Existing Research Project: Trucking, Immigration, and Automation

This project looks at how the immigrant trucker community in Canada is affected by technology initiatives such as automation. The focus here is the broader impacts of automation, and how they can potentially disrupt informal transnational networks and communities back in the home country of the immigrants.


  1. Informality, immigration, and politics in the context of Iranian immigrants (Under Review)
  2. Studying the underlying technical infrastructure of immigrant populations
Priyank Chandra
Postdoctoral Fellow

I study design and informality focusing on communities who live on the margins.