WISHCRYS IN SEVEN POINTS
1) I am Dr Crystal Abidin.
2) I am a digital anthropologist and ethnographer, and I study internet culture.
3) I am based in Australia and travel to Singapore and Sweden for work.
4) I live on the internet, and am omnipresent as wishcrys.
5) I was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia and Pacific Standard 30 Top Thinkers Under 30.
6) My books include Internet Celebrity, Microcelebrity Around The Globe, and Instagram.
7) I used to be a percussionist, I love penguins, and Pusheen is my best friend.
Nice to meet you! Sort of.
I am a Senior Research Fellow & DECRA Fellow in Internet Studies at Curtin University, Affiliate Researcher with the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jönköping University, and Research Fellow with the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University. I am also a Chief- or Co-investigator on projects funded by the Australian Research Council (Australia, July 2019–June 2022), Facebook (USA, January–December 2019), Handelsrådet (Sweden, July 2017–June 2019), and National Heritage Board (Singapore, March 2017–March 2019).
I focus on vernacular internet cultures and study young people’s relationships with internet celebrity, self-curation, and vulnerability, and have developed several key ideas & concepts pertaining to self-presentation on the internet. Recently, I have been writing about internet celebrity in East Asia, the virality of young children on social media, and the commodification of coupling and weddings in East Asia. My sociology projects study identity politics among mixed race persons in Singapore and Australia. See my publications and works-in-progress. If for some reason you’d like to know how I look and sound like, here are some multimedia resources featuring my research and I.
I am on the Executive Committee for the Association of Internet Researchers, sit on the Editorial Boards for Cultural Science Journal, Convergence, Journal of Sociotechnical Critique, and Social Media + Society, and write regularly for Cyborgology. I completed my PhD at the departments of Anthropology & Sociology, and Media & Communication at the University of Western Australia in 2016. My research has drawn international accolades and been recognized by the industry.
I have been involved in industry and consultancy work since 2011, providing expertise grounded in ethnography, running research projects, producing content, and giving public lectures for a general, non-specialist audience. I teach in Anthropology, Sociology, and Internet Studies, write regularly for the popular press, and speak frequently at public engagements. If you’d like to get in touch, drop me an email.
WHERE AM I NOW?
In April 2019, I will be starting a new continuing/tenured position in Australia and kicking off two projects: Decoding the Weaponizing of Pop Culture on WhatsApp in Singapore and Malaysia (funded by Facebook Integrity Research Awards, January–December 2019) and Social Media Influencers as Conduits of Knowledge in Australia and Asia (funded by Australian Research Council DECRA, July 2019–June 2022). I will also be writing up a public-facing industry report from my two-year research grant from Handelsrådet (Swedish Retail and Wholesale Development Council) on Social media influencers in Swedish and Scandinavian retail (July 2017–June 2019).
I am usually based in Perth, and my upcoming research travels include Sydney (April), Urbino (June), Wales (July), Canberra (August), and Brisbane (October).
For updates on my upcoming talks and works-in-progress, see here.
I am most known for my work on Influencers, internet celebrity, and microcelebrity. You may know these personalities as commercial or professional bloggers, Tweeters, Instagrammers, YouTubers, and the like. I started this research in Singapore as an undergraduate in August 2007, and expanded it to Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Scandinavia over the years. My PhD thesis “Please Subscribe! Influencers, Social Media, and the Commodification of Everyday Life” investigated how Influencers posture their personal lives and depiction of lifestyles in digital and physical spaces to be relatable, accumulate followers, and become commodifiable canvases for advertorials. An abstract and outline of the chapters are here and an ethnographic monograph has been contracted by MIT Press.
I curate case studies on Influencers and internet culture. In theory, this is my academic blog (I have been blogging on eleven other blogs since 2008; yes, really). In practice, I am haphazardly navigating academia while whining about the weather. I like to remember things and am secretly a skilled cataloguer of everyday ethnographies and everyday conversations. This blog also archives my ambitious exploits and reflections as an early career academic.
During my Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jönköping University (2017–2019), I was also Visiting Research Fellow with the Department of Media and Communication at Swinburne University of Technology, and continuing/tenured Lecturer in Digital Media with the School of Communication and Creative Arts at Deakin University (2018–2019).
During my Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore (2016–2017), I was also Co-investigator with the STS cluster at the Asia Research Institute, Visiting Research Fellow with the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University, and Op3n Fellow (writing fellow) with OpenCare Research at Edgeryders.
After my PhD (2015–2016), I worked as a Research Assistant on two Australian Research Council funded projects at Edith Cowan University and the University of Western Australia, on various projects at the Centre for Culture and Technology at Curtin University, and at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
During my PhD at the University of Western Australia (2011–2015), I was also Visiting Doctoral Fellow with the Media Management and Transformation Centre at Jönköping University, Visiting Researcher with the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and Visiting Scholar with Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore.
A summary of my professional development is here.
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 also have creative pursuits for catharsis, and hang out with a bunch of creative people here.
Before academia, I used to play in several orchestras as a percussionist (ten brownies points if you can spot me). I play the marimba and glockenspiel at home, and am secretly strategizing over how to sneak a vibraphone back. 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. After all, who doesn’t want to grow old in style? (see for instance, Ahmah and Bob).
I like to travel and I love penguins and pusheen. Fun fact: 60% of my daily diet comprises chocolate – I kid you not. Om nom nom.
For press/media, please email with your timezone to schedule a Skype chat.
This website and a proportion of its content is copyright of Crystal Abidin – © Crystal Abidin 2008
This page was last updated on 03 April 2019.