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October in Singapore

Hi folks, I’ll be giving four talks in Singapore this October. They are open to the public (although two require you to register – links below). Please come by and say hi and swap high fives. And catch up over milo dinosaur and tutu cake.

PS: Special thanks to magical fairies Joel, Denisa, John, Catelijne, and Cindy for making this happen :)

See you soon!

#sexbait: Sex-selling and Selling Sex among Commercial Lifestyle Bloggers in Singapore

English Language and Literature (ELL) Seminar Series
National Institute of Education

01st October 2014, Wednesday, 1030-1200hrs
ELL Journal Room (NIE3-03-162), National Institute of Education

Institutionalized sex education in Singapore undertakes a conservative, medicalized approach that preaches abstinence, and is premised on promoting healthy (heterosexual) relationships between married couples for reproduction purposes to uphold a stable family unit. It assigns parents, the school, students, and the community as stakeholders in maintaining a comprehensive sexuality education. However, young people are increasingly turning to commercial bloggers who are trendy, clout rich, and influential on the Internet for firsthand ‘lifestyle’ information and advice. In response, some bloggers have innovatively engaged in various degrees of sensuousness to market sex and sexuality-related campaigns and products, and to lure traffic to increase their viewership. Through ethnographic fieldwork conducted with these bloggers and the long-term observation of social media enterprises, this paper examines the treatment of sexual literacies among young men and women lifestyle bloggers in Singapore. It argues that these bloggers have stepped in as informal educators of sex and sexuality education to provide alternative approaches amidst a state-controlled hegemonic discourse. A close analysis reveals some scripts appropriated by bloggers to disseminate personal and endorsed sex education such as shock and allure, pedantic consumption, and personal illustrations.

OMGBRB blogwar: Orchestrating controversy and manufacturing disorder in commercial lifestyle blogging

CNM/CARE Research Talk, Communications and New Media
National University of Singapore

01st October 2014, Wednesday, 1500-1600hrs
CNM Meeting room, AS6, #03-33, National University of Singapore

Commercial lifestyle bloggers who blog for a living rely on viewer traffic on their social media platforms for advertising income. Unlike positive reputation management strategies such as fostering intimacy with readers, some bloggers have taken to orchestrating controversy in the industry in order to generate ‘hype’. This manufactures an intense sense of disorder within a very short time frame in which bloggers compete to capture the attention of curious readers, in order to create publicity for themselves and intensify exposure for their social media platforms. Using the lifestyle blogging industry in Singapore as a case study, this paper investigates bloggers’ engagements with status claims, appearance manipulation, and and ‘tell all’ exposés to disrupt the equilibrium of blog viewership and negotiate their command of the attention economy.

Healthy, Wealthy, Selfie: Critically examining selfie culture and a look at selfies in Singapore

Gender Collective and University Scholars Programme
National University of Singapore

02nd October 2014, Thursday, 1945-2100hrs
Theme Room 1, South Learn Lobe Level 2, Cinnamon College, University Town
Sign up <here>

Celebrity selfies, politician selfies, sponsored selfies, and transgressive selfies have made international news since ‘selfie’ was named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2013. But what is in a selfie? How is this global phenomenon conceptualized across producers and consumers, and how can one understand selfie culture beyond a mere frivolous pop­internet fad? Between psychological discourses of selfie culture as narcissism and the viable co­opting of selfies into marketing campaigns ala Ellen’s infamous Oscar selfie, ‘Healthy, Wealthy, Selfie’ looks at the productive pedagogy of the selfie. This talk is an overview of selfie culture around the world, current research initiatives, and ways of thinking through the selfie critically as discourse, evidence, affect, ethics, and performance. Drawing from Crystal’s work on social media entrepreneurship in Singapore and East Asia since 2010, the talk also invites us to examine selfie culture in Singapore through ethnographic case studies. The pedagogical content of this talk is based on a new ‘Teaching with Selfies’ syllabus collaboratively produced by members of the Selfies Pedagogy Group (est. August 2014), founded by Theresa Senft of NYU with a group of international scholars. Our educational group is an offshoot from The Selfies Research Network (est. February 2014). Visit us at

Scandal and Self-shame in the Singaporean Blogosphere

Work-in-progress Seminar, Tembusu College
National University of Singapore

03rd October 2014, Friday, 1800-1900hrs
Level 1 Common Lounge, Tembusu College
Sign up <here>

In the commercial lifestyle blog industry where self-branded microcelebrities are constantly vying for the attention of readers on their social media platforms, some bloggers have deliberately made scandal around themselves in order to provoke emotionally-charged public reactions. Contrary to positive reputation-building strategies, these bloggers orchestrate ‘hate’ discourse to generate viewer traffic, often to the appeal of mainstream media outlets whose coverage intensifies the attention. In managing the negative reputation arising from the ‘hype’, these bloggers usually bank on the ‘web amnesia’ of readers. Massive volumes of new web content enable bad publicity to disperse as quickly as it arose. Looking at three Singaporean bloggers as case studies, this talk tells the story of scandal and self-shame as marketing strategies in the Singaporean blogosphere.

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