Sydney in December.

Moshimoshi folks,

I am giving a few talks at various events in Sydney this December. If you’re in town, please come by to say hi!

I’m presenting preliminary findings from two new projects for the first time – one on young people and grief on the internet, and the other on discursive networks on Tumblr. I’m also presenting more of my work on Influencers, this time focusing on the economy of fake goods. If you’re working in similar areas, I’d love to chat.

See you then!

Digital research networks, activism and pedagogy: The Selfies Research Network and Hey Girl Global. 

– with Theresa Senft (New York University)
12 December 2016, 1400-1530hrs panel.
A&D Seminar Room D-111, UNSW Art & Design
The Selfie and Social Activism Symposium.
<Register>

This talk introduces and evaluates two networks with explicitly feminist, anti-racist and anti-colonialist aims. The Selfie Research Network contains more than 3000 teachers, students and creatives interested in discourses surrounding selfies. The Hey Girl Global Network, currently at 330, maps the intersections of global girl (and women’s), media, and urban cultures. Employing a rubric based on principles of networked reflective solidarity (Senft, 2008) we ask: whom do these networks currently serve, and who remains locked out? Although “experts” (from academia, activism, media, art, etc.) can be critical to securing a network’s reputation in its early days, in the long run, too-visible displays of social capital by “important” members can actually hinder solidarity in networks devoted to connecting girls and women worldwide. As a corrective, we offer some steps each network might take to better connect those who do not (or cannot) participate in the politics of visibility. Here, we are thinking specifically of women who feel unseen, or need to remain unidentified, due to age, race, dis/ability, residential status, the legality of their income generating activities, or political restrictions that make communicating in hybrid offline/ online spaces a challenge.

Identity and vulnerability on the internet.

stream with Stephanie Betz (Australian National University)
15 December 2016, 0900-1500hrs.
Sessions 7C, 8C, 9C, 10C, ABS Seminar Room 2020, University of Sydney.
Australian Anthropology Association Conference 2016.
<Conf programme>

As humanity has been experiencing profound changes in the geophysical environment, technological developments have enabled people to overcome many of its limitations. Electronic forms of communication have allowed people to almost instantaneously communicate over vast geographic distances, leading to new means of constructing identities, inhabiting lifeworlds, and conducting relationships. Simultaneously, these digital possibilities have cultivated new forms of vulnerability as our meaning-making processes are opened out onto a broader and dis-/hyper- embodied audience. Relevant questions for the panel include: a) How is identity – physical, digital, and otherwise – constructed and performed in the digital space of the Internet? b) How is the reflexive construction of identity and lifeworld on the internet open to both deep engagement and existential threat? and c) What forms of new relationships have emerged in a digital domain that is at once permanent and transient?

Death, Grief, and Aftercare in the Digital Age.

15 December 2016, 0900-1500hrs panel.
Session 7C, ABS Seminar Room 2020, University of Sydney.
Australian Anthropology Association Conference 2016.
<Conf programme>

In the age of the internet, platform affordances and cultural norms on social media have kindled an archive culture generating a wealth of digital footprints. In this climate, persons who have passed away may be memorialized by loved ones through the resurgence of such data and the subsequent re-curation of their post-death persona. Such grieving practices have been examined in various disciplines as Facebook memorial pages, RIP trolling, digital graves, and afterlife digital estate management. Transiting from passive observations of such activity to an intimate anthropological inquiry of these persons and their practices, this paper draws on personal interviews and in-depth digital observation to understand how young people cope with grief in the digital age. The paper focuses on the use of technological devices and digital artifacts to construct mutual aftercare, generate transient affects, and understand mortality.

Authentic replicas: Influencers, Knock-off culture, and Circuits of aspirational knowledge.

16 December 2016, 1100-1230hrs panel.
Session 7E, ABS Seminar Room 2080, University of Sydney.
Crossroads 2016.
<Conf programme>

Looking closely at knock-off material culture as facilitated by social media, this article investigates young women Influencers’ and followers’ exchanges of financial, social, and cultural capital regarding counterfeit products. Drawing on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork and through the lens of grounded theory analysis, I investigate Influencers’ enactments of knock-off culture on social media and in physical spaces, and the ways in which they posture as arbiters of taste, gatekeepers of discount luxury, and tastemakers of democratic aspirations. Specifically, I examine a hierarchy of knock-off consumption and displays through a vocabulary of euphemisms and approachable grammar, and an ecology of manufacturers, suppliers, models, and consumers. Through these practices, Influencers create and curate circuits of aspirational knowledge in which watered-down luxury fashion procures accretive value as authentic replicas.

Thinspo Tumblr: Weight Loss Motivation, Imagined Communities, and Circulations of Power.

16 December 2016, 1330-1500hrs panel.
Session 8Q, ABS Seminar Room 2290, University of Sydney.
Crossroads 2016.
<Conf programme>

Research on young people who use media and resources that encourage thinness as inspiration – ‘thinspiration’ – has been dominated by psychology, psychiatry, and media studies, focusing on pathology, community, information sharing, and internet safety. Moving away from these medicalizing discourses, this paper is focused on the labour in which thinspo users engage disparately and as a loose network of thin solidarities. Drawing on ethnographic participant observation, I seek to understand the forms and motifs of weight loss motivation that thinspo users create and curate, how they envision and posture themselves as imagined communities, and the ways in which self-, group-, close-, and distance-policing are enacted in circuits of disciplinary power.

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