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Curtin Grants

This page catalogues the research grants I have been awarded by Curtin University.


GRANT 12: Influencers and Cultures of Social Justice

This project is awarded by the Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Grant Success Panel Development Funding at Curtin University, June–December 2021. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CI: A/Prof Crystal Abidin
Research Assistants: TBA

This project will investigate the role and impact of social media influencers in shaping cultures of social justice in the Asia Pacific region, specifically focused on cultural East Asia, and potentially also Australia. Methods employed include personal interviews, digital ethnography, a regional survey, and archival research. The research will be conducted in a combination of English and local languages from the Asia Pacific region.

Outputs:

  • Asia Pacific State of Influencers & Social Justice Report, ETA end-2021
  • Asia Pacific Influencer Studies Syllabus Guidebook, ETA end-2021

GRANT 11: TikTok Cultures Research Network Expansion Support

This network research grant is awarded by the Strategic Research Investment scheme from the Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University, May–December 2021. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CI: A/Prof Crystal Abidin
Research Associate: D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye

This Research Investment Fund supports the expansion of the TikTok Cultures Research Network first founded by A/Prof Crystal Abidin in October 2020. The TikTok Cultures Research Network is the first consolidated network for TikTok research globally. This network will establish Curtin – and specifically, the ‘Social Media Pop Cultures’ Programme that A/Prof Crystal Abidin leads at the Centre for Culture and Technology – as a regional leader on TikTok research. A/Prof Crystal Abidin will use the early outputs of this network to solicit an industry research partnerships. In the mid-term, it will be one of the major outputs from the Faculty of Humanities, to build capacity towards an ARC Linkage Grant on short video app cultures to be housed in Curtin University with A/Prof Crystal Abidin as CI.

Outputs:

  • TikTok Cultures Research Network website <Link>
  • TikTok Research Bibliography <Link>
  • Special Issue of International Journal of Communication on ‘Research Perspectives on TikTok and Its Legacy Apps’, July 2021 <Link>
  • TikTok Methodologies Symposium, 19 July 2021 <Link>
  • TikTok and Social Movements Symposium, 20 September 2021 <Link TBC>
  • TikTok Academic Syllabus, ETA end-2021 <Link TBC>
  • TikTok and Social Movements State of Research Report, ETA end-2021 <Link TBC>
  • Illustration support for TikTok and Youth Cultures During C19 Report, ETA end-2021 <Link TBC>
  • TikTok Research Books Roundtable, ETA March 2022 <Link TBC>
  • Illustration support for TikTok and Youth Cultures (Emerald Publishing), ETA 2022 <Link TBC>
  • Special Issue of Media International Australia on ‘Cultures of TikTok in the Asia Pacific’, ETA 2022 <Link TBC>
  • Special Issue of Television & New Media on ‘TikTok Research Methodologies’, ETA 2022 <Link TBC>
  • Special Issue of [redacted] on ‘TikTok and Social Movements’, ETA 2023 <Link TBC>

GRANT 10: Bubble Tea Pilot Project

This pilot project is a research grant funded by the MCASI School Executive, Curtin University, June–December 2021. Ethics Office approval number TBC.

CIs: A/Prof Crystal Abidin, Dr Denise Woods
HDR Interns: TBC

As a first joint-initiative between the WA Communication, Culture and Media (WACCM) group and Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN), this project aims to investigate role of bubble tea shops in facilitating East Asian communities and belonging in Western Australia. The project will focus on 1) Asian businesses and cultures in WA, focusing for instance on the origin story of the business/franchise; how they are marketing an ‘Asian’ food culture in a multicultural Australian context; their branding strategy in the storefront and on social media; 2) Bubble tea shops as a congregational node for (young) diaspora and migrant Asians, focusing for instance on who their target clientele are; how the storefronts provide a physical space and cultural icon for diaspora and migrant Asians, as well as White Australians and Australians of other cultural diversities, to congregate; the types of rapport and networks formed within the community; how the location of the storefront and its cultural legacies impacts their position and role in the community; and 3) The impact of C19 and responses to anti-Asian racism, focusing for instance on the impact on their businesses and communities during C19, both negative and positive; the risks and vulnerabilities they have experienced as ‘Asian’ businesses during this time, in light of rising anti-Asian sentiments across the globe; how they have been managing their social media presence in the momentum of online advocacies.

Outputs:

  • TBC

GRANT 09: WACCM-AASRN ECR Professional Development Day

This event is a research initiative funded by the MCASI School Executive, Curtin University, June–September 2021.

CIs: A/Prof Crystal Abidin, Dr Denise Woods

This one-day WACCM (WA Communication, Culture and Media) & AASRN (Asian Australian Studies Research Network) ECR Professional Development Day is targeted towards HDRs and Junior Scholars in the Social Science and Humanities Disciplines in Western Australia. WACCM is a network set up by the four main WA universities (with Notre Dame recently joining) to improve networking and develop WA’s research environment. AASRN is a research network for academic and community groups with interests in Asian Australian studies and topics. This event is a direct response to C19 contingencies that have resulted in lost opportunities for HDRs and ECRs to network, gain feedback about their professional development, and find community and support in a time of precarity, which corresponds to MCASI’s Plan-on-a-Page (PoP) initiative to develop local strategies to enhance the wellness of marginalized individuals in our Curtin and wider WA community. We intend to draw on the expertise and labour of established Faculty in Curtin and the WA universities to assist especially with ESL and international HDRs and ECRs with developing research roadmaps and competitive port folios, which corresponds with MCASI’s PoP initiative to reestablish confidence among our international HDRs and ECRs. The partnership between WACCM (especially ‘stranded’ international HDRs in WA) and AASRN also responds directly to MCASI’s Asia Strategy, by providing professional development support to HDRs and ECRs who hail from or who study Asia-related topics.

Outputs:

  • One-day WACCM-AASRN ECR Professional Development session targeted at HDRs and Junior Scholars in the Social Science and Humanities disciplines in Western Australia, to be held on 10 September 2021.

GRANT 08: Chinese Rural YouTube Influencers: Mapping a Genre

This project is a research internship grant funded by the 2020 Curtin HDR Internship Programme Scholarship, Graduate Research School, Curtin University, November–December 2020. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CI: Dr Crystal Abidin
HDR Intern: Chen Guo

In recent years, Chinese Rural videos and video creators have been experiencing exponential popularity on YouTube, alongside other video-publishing platforms across East Asia. The growing genre is often represented in domestic and international news media for mediating portrayals of traditional Chinese culture to a global audience, and intertwined with considerations around national identity, nationhood, cultural pride, cultural knowledge, technical expertise, and wanghong savvy. The most prominent of such wanghong, internet celebrities, or Influencers include Li Ziqi, whose persona and brand has been parlayed into merchandising opportunities and praise and collaborations with state authorities. This is a scoping project that aims to map the genre of Chinese Rural YouTube videos through a survey of Chinese domestic and English international news coverage, in-depth ethnographic case studies guided by digital ethnography, and visual media content analysis.

Outputs:

  • Research and publishing mentorship programme for one HDR Candidate in Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University
  • Two journal articles [in progress]

GRANT 07: Cultures of social justice through disability on TikTok

This project is a research internship grant funded by the 2020 Curtin HDR Internship Programme Scholarship, Graduate Research School, Curtin University, November–December 2020. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CIs: Dr Crystal Abidin, Professor Katie Ellis
HDR Intern: Mary-Anne Romano

A human rights approach to disability recognises that the enjoyment of human rights does not depend on the absence of disability. Creators and users on TikTok are actively spreading this message via short dance, lip sync, public announcements, and comedy videos. Our work seeks to redefine disability by taking a critical, social model, non-medical approach to disability. We seek to draw attention to way disability is socially created by inflexible attitudes, policies, and procedures. The program is divided in two key areas: Access and Representation. The Access stream aims to leverage the potential of digital technologies to improve access to and engagement with entertainment, education and everyday life while the Representation stream aims to positively influence social attitudes towards people with disability by both improving and increasing representations in media and popular culture. The proposed project brings these streams together and offers an opportunity to build research capacity, promote collaboration, mentor across academic levels, and foster interdisciplinary research collaborations.

Outputs:

  • Research and publishing mentorship programme for one HDR Candidate in Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University
  • Journal article [in planning]
  • Conference presentation [in planning]


GRANT 06: Cultures of TikTok in the Asia Pacific

This project is a small research grant funded by the Creative-Critical Imaginations Seed Funding from MCASI Research & Creative Production Committee, Curtin University, September–December 2020.

CIs: Dr Crystal Abidin, Professor Michael Keane
Research Assistant: D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye

This project is an initiative to support a virtual symposium, launch a research network, and produce a Special Issue on Cultures of TikTok in the Asia Pacific. This event will be a critical forum for cutting edge research on TikTok, the globally influential short video platform that has captivated international attention and made headlines over the past two years. In particular, this event focuses on the cultures of TikTok (including but not limited to the platform, players, and politics) throughout the Asia Pacific Region. Contributions to this symposium will help pioneer research directions, approaches, and methodologies for studying TikTok and create resources for curriculum development and future research collaborations. Selected papers from the symposium will be invited for consideration towards a Special Issue.

Outputs:

  • ‘Cultures of TikTok in the Asia Pacific’ Symposium <Link>
  • TikTok Cultures Research Portal <Link>
  • Special Issue on ‘Cultures of TikTok in the Asia Pacific’ [in planning]


GRANT 05: Australian Diaspora Cultures on TikTok

This feeder project is a small research grant supported by the MCASI Small Grants Program 2020, School of Media, Creative Arts & Social Inquiry at Curtin University, September–December 2020. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CIs: Dr Crystal Abidin, Dr Denise Woods
Research Interns: Kelly Bailey, Cass Sligh

This project is a pilot research activity to build collaboration between Internet Studies (Abidin) and Mass Communications (Woods) to bring together two budding strengths of MCASI, on Influencer Culture studies and Asian-Australia studies, with the potential to seek future interdisciplinary and School-wide collaborations. Given the global interest on TikTok, and its proliferation among young Australians, our research interests have expanded to include TikTok influencers and Australian culture on TikTok respectively. Further, Australian diaspora cultures on TikTok have been thriving of late, given recent milestone events that have intensified activity on the app, such as the Australian bushfires (Jan20), COVID-19 racism (Feb20), COVID-19 self-isolation (Mar20), anti-racism protests (Jun20). As such, this is a time-sensitive project to scope out emergent cultures, discourses, and practices of Australian diaspora TikTok.

Outputs:

  • Research and publishing mentorship programme for two HDR Candidates in Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University
  • Two journal articles [in progress]


GRANT 04: Knowledges on Douyin vs. TikTok: Platforms, Populism, and Performance

This feeder project is an individual research bursary hosted by the Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT) at Curtin University, and is funded by Tencent (China/Australia), August–December 2019. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CI: Dr Crystal Abidin
Research Assistants: Denis Leonov, Guo Li, James Jing, Li Qian

Since launching the short video app (短视频) Douyin (抖音) in the Chinese domestic market in September 2016, internet technology company ByteDance (字节跳动) subsequently launched an international version TikTok in September 2017. In November 2017, ByteDance bought over and integrated a predecessor competing short video app Musical.ly, which was first launched in April 2014, and continued to operate Douyin and TikTok as two different platforms for the domestic and international market respectively. Subsequently, Google Trends and international media coverage on Douyin and TikTok soared, as compilations of Douyin posts went viral on YouTube and Facebook, and the international userbase on TikTok grew. In response to public misrecognition and misconception around both apps, this pilot study is focused on reviewing the current pool of knowledge on Douyin and TikTok. Focused on the platforms, the study will employ the walkthrough method to understand the distinctions in features, functions, and user experience of both apps. Focused on populism, the study will conduct a content analysis of mainstream press and popular media articles providing reportage on both apps to understand the discourses pedalled about internet popular culture and ideogeographical politics. Focused on performance, the study will draw from digital ethnography and personal interviews to understand how users of both apps make decisions about the types of content they follow and consume. It is hoped that this pilot study will serve as the foundation for a more extensive survey of the short video app ecology (短视频经济) in East Asia.

Outputs:

  • “Mapping Internet Celebrity on TikTok: Exploring Attention Economies and Visibility Labours.” Cultural Science Journal 12(1): 77-103. DOI: 10.5334/csci.140 <Open Access>
  • “#WAsian (White-Asian) on TikTok and Activism through Entertainment.” in panel “Short-Form Parallel Universes: Affordances, Activity, and Culture of TikTok and Douyin” with Jing Zeng, Mike S. Schäfer, Wei Wang, Xu Chen, D. and Bondy Valdovinos Kaye. International Communication Conference 2020, Gold Coast. 21-25 May 2020. <Full panel>
  • “Tiktok Activism: Teen Uses TikTok App To Shine A Light On Persecution of Uighurs In China.” The Organization for World Peace, 19 December 2019. <Article>
  • “Der Aufstand der Mädchen auf TikTok (The Girls’ Riot on TikTok).” Austrian Broadcasting Corporation27 November 2019 <Article>
  • “Knowledges on Douyin vs. TikTok: Platforms, Populism, and Performance.” Open Literacy: Digital Games, Social Responsibility and Social Innovation, Curtin University, Perth. 30 September-01 October 2019. <Link | Link | Link>
  • “Students are fighting climate change, one TikTok video at a time.” ABC Online, 19 September 2019. <Audio>
  • “Students are fighting climate change, one TikTok video at a time.” ABC News, 19 September 2019. <Article>


GRANT 03: Publishing Support for Two Monographs

This project is a small research grant supported by the MCASI Small Grants Program 2019, School of Media, Creative Arts & Social Inquiry at Curtin University, May 2020.

CI: Dr Crystal Abidin
Research Assistant: Frank Smith
Artist: mistercrow, River Selene

This grant supports the publication costs towards two monographs by subsidising costs relating to indexing and illustration work.

Outputs:

  • Please Subscribe! Influencers, Social Media, and the Commodification of Everyday Life. MIT Press. [in progress]
  • Buymylife.com: Vernacular commerce, creation, and culture in Singapore blogshops. NIAS Press. [in progress]


GRANT 02: Short Video Apps in China

This project is a small research grant supported by the MCASI Small Grants  Program 2019, School of Media, Creative Arts & Social Inquiry at Curtin University, October 2019–June 2021 (postponed & extended due to COVID-19). Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CI: Dr Crystal Abidin
Research Assistant: Poh Yu Ting
Research Partner: NSC Hong Kong

Short video apps are the latest digital media format to proliferate on the internet. The format allows users to communicate their message via video, sound, and layover text, emoji, and stickers in clips that are only 15-60 seconds long. This has given rise to innovation around how young people, brands, businesses, and even news networks design their content in order to reach their target audience in a saturated digital media environment. To understand the landscape, ecology, and economy of short video apps, my fieldwork will focus on the biggest international markets in China housed in Beijing and Hangzhou. I will be conducting personal interviews with the tech companies who fund and back these apps, the short video app platforms themselves, influencer incubators and agencies who are experts in grooming and commercializing talent on these apps, and aspiring and current short video app creators. This fieldwork to collect primary data is especially crucial as the short video app ecology is under studied despite the phenomenon having taken off globally since 2016. There are less than a dozen academic and conference papers on major platforms such as TikTok/Douyin, and most of the public knowledge on such apps is limited to popular media coverage and personal opinion blogposts. As such, this research will contribute to foundational peer reviewed research on the phenomenon.

Outputs: To be updated



GRANT 01: Travel Support for One Conference

This feeder project is a small research grant supported by the MCASI Small Grants Program 2019, School of Media, Creative Arts & Social Inquiry at Curtin University, October 2019.

CI: Dr Crystal Abidin

This grant supports the conference travel costs to attend the Association of Internet Researchers 2019 conference in Brisbane.

Outputs:

  • Leaver, Tama, Crystal Abidin, and Tim Highfield. 2019. “Framing Instagram: New Approaches.” Selected Papers of Internet Research 20: The 20th Annual Meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers. <Open Access>
  • Abidin, Crystal. 2019. “Disappearing data: Monetizing and astroturfing vernaculars on tumblr pre- and post-NSFW ban.” Selected Papers of Internet Research 20: The 20th Annual Meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers. <Open Access>
  • Pang, Natalie, and Crystal Abidin. 2019. “Decoding the weaponising of pop culture on WhatsApp in Singapore and Malaysia.” Selected Papers of Internet Research 20: The 20th Annual Meeting of the Association of Internet Researchers. <Open Access>
  • Co-organized and co-hosted the Early Career Researchers pre-conference workshop
  • Co-organized and co-led the AoIR Annual General Meeting
  • Participated in the AoIR Executive Committee meeting


Further information

Curtin University profile here.
Academic publications here.
Press mentions here.
Industry work here.



Contact

If you would like to get in touch, please reach Crystal at wishcrys.com, crystalabidin@gmail.com, or @wishcrys.


This page was last updated on 01 September 2021.