Between January and February this year, I ate Japanese food for 35 consecutive days in Singapore. Using food, place, and other materialities as placeholders for my sister, I was trying to reprogramme my body out of grief. Continue reading Reprogramming my body out of grief.
As an anthropologist of internet culture, I am often asked if all I do is sit in an air-conditioned room and surf the web all day.
In the last three months, I’ve been approached by eight or so (prospective) postgrads around the world who wanted advice on academia and their research projects. I don’t consider myself an expert at academicking, being rather new to the industry and still learning along the way; but having been a recipient of much academic kindness and mentoring myself, I usually always oblige to chat with postgrads via Skype or email. None of them were based at any of the institutions I work at, so I can only guess that they must have found me somewhere on the internet.
Incidentally, they were all young women; this brings me much hope and joy knowing that young academic women are venturing out to explore and secure collegial relationships, resources, and care outside of their institutions in an industry that is otherwise structurally unequal for some bodies and identities over others. Continue reading Academic women and mentoring.
Last week, Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article and accompanying video accusing 27-year-old Swedish YouTube Influencer Felix Kjellberg, better known by his moniker PewDiePie, of publishing “anti-semitic posts”. In a media ecology saturated with Influencers, wannabes, and old/traditional/legacy media attempting to shift into digital spaces, this news is significant as PewDiePie is among the most watched, renown, and viable icons in the digital Influencer industry, being the most subscribed and highest paid YouTuber in 2016. In the wake of these accusations, PewDiePie’s network Maker Studios (recently bought over by Disney) and his platform partner YouTube Red dropped him from their stable, terminated his upcoming series, and removed him from their advertising programme.
I am an anthropologist who wrote my PhD on the Influencer industry, having observed the scene as early as in 2007 and investigated it professionally since 2010. I published extensive case studies and academic research on the culture of Influencers, including the shifts in trends and practices over the years. In this post, I extrapolate from the PewDiePie-WSJ scandal alongside reactions from prominent YouTubers to discuss Influencers on YouTube, their cultural vernacular and community norms, their relationship with legacy media, and their potential as new weaponized microcelebrity. Continue reading YouTuber Influencers vs. Legacy Media: PewDiePie, Weaponized microcelebrity, and Cross-media politics
Ten years ago, as a teenager in junior college, I often heard my peers exchanging updates of what a group of girls had recently purchased, worn or experienced. They could recall the names of their boyfriends, the restaurants they’d been to over the weekend, and details of their latest fashion purchases. I soon learned that these girls did not go to my college, nor were they friends of my peers. In fact, my peers had never met these girls in the flesh; they were simply bloggers writing about their lives on the internet. The allure of such bloggers and the intimacies their followers expressed towards them and among each other intrigued me so much, that, when I became an anthropologist later on in life, I made these internet personalities the focus of my research.