Malka Older is a writer, academic, and aid worker. She is currently a Faculty Associate at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society and an Associate Researcher at the Centre de Sociologie des Organisations, and has spoken at venues such as SXSW, the Personal Democracy Forum, the FWD50 conference, and the Hamburg International Summer Festival on topics including democracy, data, narrative disorder, and speculative resistance.
Her science-fiction political thriller Infomocracy was named one of the best books of 2016 by Kirkus, Book Riot, and the Washington Post. She is also the author of the sequels, Null States (2017) and State Tectonics (2018), and the full trilogy was nominated for a Hugo Award. She is also the creator of the serial Ninth Step Station, currently running on Serial Box. Her short story and poetry collection And Other Disasters came out in late 2019. Her short fiction and poetry can be found at WIRED, Future Tense, Leveler, Sundog Lit, Reservoir Lit, Inkscrawl, Rogue Agent, Tor.com, Fireside Fiction, and others. She has written opinion pieces for the New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and NBC Think.
She has more a decade of experience in humanitarian aid and development, ranging from field level experience as a Head of Office in Darfur to supporting global programs and agency-wide strategy as a disaster risk reduction technical specialist. In between she has designed and implemented economic development initiatives in post-disaster context; supervised a large and diverse portfolio as Director of Programs in Indonesia, and responded to complex emergencies and natural disasters in Sri Lanka, Uganda, Darfur, Indonesia, Japan, and Mali, in the last three as Team Leader.
Her doctoral work on the sociology of organizations at the Institut d’Études Politques de Paris (Sciences Po), completed in 2019, explored the dynamics of multi-level governance and disaster response using the cases of Hurricane Katrina and the Japan tsunami of 2011. As part of this work she has been selected as a visiting scholar at Columbia University, on an Alliance Grant, and at the Fletcher School of International Affairs at Tufts University. She has an undergraduate degree in literature from Harvard and a Masters in international relations and economics from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Johns Hopkins University.
She was named Senior Fellow for Technology and Risk at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs for 2015, and has conducted research for the French Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) on the human and organizational factors involved in the Fukushima Dai-Ichi crisis. Her research interests include intra-governmental relations in crises; the paradox of well-funded disaster responses; measurement and evaluation of disaster responses; and the effects of competition among actors in humanitarian aid.