About Me


Hello stranger.

1) I am Dr Crystal Abidin aka wishcrys.
2) I am an anthropologist and ethnographer of internet cultures.
3) I am Senior Research Fellow & ARC DECRA Fellow in Internet Studies at Curtin University.
4) I am based in Perth, Australia and travel around the Asia Pacific for fieldwork.
5) I was listed on Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia and Pacific Standard 30 Top Thinkers Under 30.
6) My books include Internet CelebrityMicrocelebrity Around The GlobeInstagram.
7) I used to be a percussionist, I love penguins, and Pusheen is my best friend.

Nice to meet you! Sort of.


I am Senior Research Fellow & ARC 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), National Heritage Board (Singapore, March 2017–March 2019), and Tencent (China, August–December 2019).

I am an anthropologist and ethnographer of internet cultures. 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, and international press coverage on my work. I also speak frequently at academic and public engagements. 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, a member of The Australian Sociological Association, sit on the Editorial Boards for Cultural Science JournalConvergence, Journal of CommunicationJournal of Sociotechnical Critique, and Social Media + Society, and write 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 has 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 also teach in Anthropology, Sociology, and Internet Studies.


In October 2019, I will be presenting research on TikTok and Douyin at Open Literacy: Digital Games, Social Responsibility and Social Innovation (#OpenLiteracy19); presenting research on Instagram, tumblr, and WhatsApp at the Association of Internet Researchers 2019 Conference (#AoIR2019); and giving an industry talk on Influencer cultures and internet pop culture at GITEX Technology Week (#GITEX2019 #GITEXFutureStars).

I am usually based in Perth, and my upcoming research travels include Brisbane (October), Dubai (October), Tokyo (November/December), Seoul (November/December), Siegen (January), and Milan (March).

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 the Nordic 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.


Email>> crystalabidin[at]gmail[dot]com
For press/media, please email with your timezone to schedule a Skype chat.

Google Scholar>> | ORCID>>Twitter>> | Instagram>> | Curtin Profile>>
Visit my traveling projects thetravelingpingu>> and SMTNW>>
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 17 October 2019.

19 Comment on “About Me

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