Curtin Grants

Curtin Grants

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



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 TBA,

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 2020–December 2020.

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

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 2020–December 2020. Ethics Office approval number HRE2019-0806.

CIs: Dr Crystal Abidin, Dr Denise Woods
Research Interns: Kelly Bailey, Cass Slingh
Artist: River Selene

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 21 January 2021.