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Hello stranger. This is, the internet home of Dr Crystal Abidin aka wishcrys. Following the convention of Malay names, I go by ‘Dr Crystal’ or ‘A/Prof Crystal’ rather than ‘Dr Abidin’. I am an anthropologist and ethnographer of internet cultures, focusing especially on influencer cultures, internet celebrity, online visibility, and social media pop cultures, mostly in the Asia Pacific region.

I grew up in Singapore, used to be based in Sweden, and now live in Perth, Western Australia. I work as Associate Professor, Principal Research Fellow, and ARC DECRA Fellow in Internet Studies at Curtin University; Programme Lead of Social Media Pop Cultures at the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University; Associate Investigator at the Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and Affiliate Researcher with the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jönköping University. I am the Founder of the TikTok Cultures Research Network, Editor-in-Chief of Media International Australia, and 2022 Provost Fellow at Curtin University.

My research has won international accolades, with notable awards including being named on The Australian Top 40 Early Career Researchers (2021), ABC TOP 5 Humanities Fellow (2020), the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia (2018) and Pacific Standard 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 (2016) lists, and receiving the Western Australian 2022 Young Tall Poppy Science Award (2022), and the ICA Pop Comm Early Career Scholar Prize (2020). In 2022 I delivered the Annual Steve Jones Internet Research Lecture for the International Communication Association, and in 2021 I was appointed Isaac Manasseh Meyer Fellow at the Department of Communications and New Media at National University of Singapore.

I have published extensively in academic and popular media outlets, and my books include Internet Celebrity (2018, Emerald Publishing); Microcelebrity Around The Globe (2018, Emerald Publishing); Instagram (2020, Polity Press); Mediated Interfaces (2020, Bloomsbury Academic); and tumblr (2021, Polity Press). At present, I am completing three book manuscripts on blogshop cultures, influencer cultures, and TikTok youth cultures. I have developed several key ideas & concepts in digital cultures, which have been noted in international press coverage and my long-term engagements with industry and consultancy work.

I am a prolific keynote speaker, plenary panelist, and lecturer, and actively update a repository of multimedia resources to communicate my research to the general public. My upcoming talks and works-in-progress are updated regularly. I curate case studies on Influencers and internet culture, and this blog also archives my journey and reflections as an early career researcher. 

I serve on the Editorial Boards for Cultural Science Journal; Convergence; Global Perspectives (Technology and Global Change section); Journal of Communication; Journal of Computer Mediated Communication; Journal of Sociotechnical Critique; Social Media + Society; and Television & New Media. I was previously elected to serve two terms on the Executive Committee for the Association of Internet Researchers, and have also served on the Advisory Boards for various projects at Facebook, Google, and Instagram, and been involved in closed-door consultations for Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, Intel, and Social Science Research Council.


At present, I am focused on three main projects: Influencer Cultures in East Asia and Australia (funded by the Australian Research Council DECRA); COVID-19 Messaging and Youth Engagements on TikTok (funded by Social Science Research Council & Wenner-Gren Foundation); and Decoding the Weaponizing of Pop Culture on WhatsApp in Singapore and Malaysia (funded by the Facebook Integrity Foundational Research Award). My COVID-19 research is archived here

My fieldwork schedule (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) has been postponed due to COVID-19, and I will be concentrating on digital fieldwork and writing in the interim.

From December 2021 to July 2022, I will be on long leave and only attending to selected invitations and research obligations. In 2023 I will be taking up the the ‘Values in Digital Media Visiting Research Fellowship’ (invited) with The Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

For my upcoming talks, see here.

A selection of my latest:


Before academia, I dreamt of being a full-time percussionist and trained in a few orchestras. I play the marimba and glockenspiel at home (RIP my keyboard and violin and drums), and am secretly strategizing over how to acquire a vibraphone. Deep inside, I still believe that one day in the future I will return to my first love and grow old playing percussion with other silver-haired people. I would be content to grow wise and cool like Ahmah and Bob.

I held several casual jobs in various industries to support myself through grad school, with the most interesting being my role as a 24/7 library officer (think being wide awake at 0400hrs in the morning to keep a building in order) with some incredibly nocturnal co-workers.

I love penguins and Pusheen and chocolate.


Email>> crystalabidin[at]gmail[dot]com

Postal mail>>  Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, WA6845, Australia

Google Scholar>>
CoE Digital Child>>

Drop me a note. Or five. Or better still, send me .gifs of penguins.

This website and a proportion of its content is copyright of Crystal Abidin – © Crystal Abidin 2008

This page was last updated on 28 June 2022.