Biography, Cultural Studies, Life Writing

Border Crossings: Essays in Identity and Belonging

09.06.19 | Permalink | Comments Off on Border Crossings: Essays in Identity and Belonging

The border between intimate memory and historical revelation is explored in this wide-ranging collection, which features original contributions from leading figures in the life-writing field from Australia, Canada, Europe, the UK, and the USA.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Communication and Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Digital Scholarship, Historical Studies, Humanities, Life Writing

Migration Experiences: Acknowledging the Past, and Sustaining the Present and Future

05.12.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on Migration Experiences: Acknowledging the Past, and Sustaining the Present and Future

Australia is recognised as one of the world’s most culturally and ethnically diverse nations. Immigration has historically played an important role in the nation’s economic, social and cultural development. There is a pressing need to find innovative technological and archival approaches to deal with the challenge to digitally preserve Australia’s migrant heritage, especially given the ageing of the European communities that were the first to come under the postwar mass migration scheme. This paper reports on plans for a national collaborative project to develop the foundational infrastructure for a dynamic, interoperable, migrant data resource for research and education.

The Migration Experiences platform will connect and consolidate heterogeneous collections and resources and will provide an international exemplar underscoring the importance of digital preservation of cultural heritage and highlighting the opportunities new technologies can offer.

Tags: , , , , ,

Biography, Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Humanities, Life Writing

Migrating People, Migrating Data: Digital Approaches to Migrant Heritage

09.11.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on Migrating People, Migrating Data: Digital Approaches to Migrant Heritage

Global migration is one of the defining characteristics of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Migrants all over the world have left multiple traces in different countries, and this cultural heritage is of growing interest to researchers and to the migrant communities themselves. Cultural heritage institutions, however, have dwindling funds and resources to meet the demand for the heritage of immigrant communities to be protected.

In this article we propose that the key to bridging this gap is to be found in new possibilities that are opened up if resources are linked to enable digital exploration of archival records and collections. In particular, we focus on the value of building a composite and distributed resource around migrants’ life courses. If this approach is used and dispersed collections held by heritage institutions can be linked, migrant communities can have access to detailed information about their families and researchers to a wealth of data—serial and qualitative—for sophisticated and innovative research. Not only does the scattered data become more usable and manageable, it becomes more visible and coherent; patterns can be discovered that were not apparent before. We use the Dutch-Australian collaborative project “Migrant: Mobilities and Connection” as an example and case study of this life course–centered methodology and propose that this may develop into a migration heritage template for migrants worldwide.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Biography, Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Life Writing

Migrant Nation

05.04.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on Migrant Nation

‘Migrant Nation: Australian Culture, Society and Identity’ provides a rich understanding of the complexity of contemporary Australian society – its politics, culture and identity.

The essays in ‘Migrant Nation’ explore the gap between Australian image and experience, telling stories of individuals and groups that offer fresh insights into identity construction. In this way this collection casts light onto the hidden face Australian identity and pays respect to the experiences of a wide variety of people who have generally been excluded, neglected or simply forgotten in the long-running quest to tell a unified story of Australian culture and identity, a story that is rapidly unravelling.

Whether in terms of language, history, culture or personal circumstances, many of the subjects of these essays were foreign to the settler dream. The stories reveal their efforts to establish a sense of legitimacy and belonging outside of the dominant Australian story. Drawing upon memories, letters, interviews, documentary fragments and archives, the authors have in common a commitment to give life to neglected histories and thus to include, in an expanding and open-ended national narrative, people who were cast as strangers in the place that was their home.

Published January 2018:

Tags: , , , , , ,

Communication and Media Studies, Digital Scholarship, Museum Studies

Engaging Collections and Communities: Technology and Interactivity in Museums

01.03.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on Engaging Collections and Communities: Technology and Interactivity in Museums

The uptake of Web 2.0 services at the start of this century has brought new freedoms in terms of museums’ relationship with the public. Historically, museums, like so many institutions, have understood their role as containing, controlling and regulating public interaction with a protected and guarded resource. Authority has been generated through this controlled interaction. The very notion of mediated access rests on the intermediary role of curators and institutions. However, social media now facilitates far greater dialogue between experts and the public, levelling the traditional hierarchies and moving from the one-way information flow to a two-way relationship. Today online communities of interest give new value to the electronic dimension of institutions, sustaining the interest base and attracting visitors through the door. The changing nature of museums, bringing with them shifting notions of curatorship, has prompted radical changes in museum practices. Museums are not only guardians but are entrepreneurs – linking, facilitating and marketing collections.

Tags: , , , , ,

Communication and Media Studies, Digital Scholarship, Literary Studies, Postcolonial Studies

Digital Postmodernism and Postcolonialism

05.01.18 | Permalink | Comments Off on Digital Postmodernism and Postcolonialism

Digital interactivity has triggered a transformation whose impact is greater than that of any other innovation in the history of technologies of communication. According to a 2016 Ericsson Mobility Report, over 90% of the world’s population will be covered by mobile broadband networks by 2021. “The world has been redrawn,” claims the Internet critic Andrew Keen, “as a distributed network.” It is becoming evident that we too are being redrawn as human beings, as individuals, and as citizens. At the heart of the change from analogue and print to digital is the capacity for connectedness that information technology brings – connectedness of information in and between databases, between experts and the public, between communities across the world, and between the arts and the sciences.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Communication and Media Studies, Digital Scholarship, Humanities, Postcolonial Studies

Things Fall Apart: Identity in the Digital World

12.10.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Things Fall Apart: Identity in the Digital World

We are in the midst of a data revolution that has penetrated the daily life of most of the world’s population so suddenly and deeply that it is impossible to grasp the extent of its impact on the concepts of self and identity. At the same time as accessing the ever-expanding realm of data via our networked devices, we are also contributing to it with every click or touch and generating a new kind of self in the free and open space of the Internet – ‘the world’s largest ungoverned space’. Can the new inclusiveness that digital technologies have given us be understood as the fulfilment of campaigns waged by critical theories in the late twenty-first century against the authority and centrality of mainstream narratives and the visions they promulgated of the world and ourselves? Or are we facing a new kind of imperialism as we fall under the spell of algorithmic culture?

Tags: , , ,

Biography, Communication and Media Studies, Digital Scholarship, Life Writing

Data Portraits: Identity, Privacy, and Surveillance

30.04.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Data Portraits: Identity, Privacy, and Surveillance

“Our pasts are becoming etched like a tattoo into our digital skins,” wrote J. D. Lasica in 1998. Since then, developments relating to online identity and privacy have progressively borne out his provocative assertion. Today, mass surveillance of our lives has become commonplace and endemic, leading to what Andrew Keen has described as a “catastrophe of abundance” of personal data.

When Time named its 2006 Person of the Year as “You,” it was signaling a global trend toward deep integration of data and algorithmic culture into our lives with the rise of social media. On its front cover, a computer screen displaying the word “You” served as a reflective mirror. “Yes you,” the caption explains, “You control the Information Age,” and “you” are responsible for “founding and framing the new digital democracy.” The mirror symbolically captured the open-endedness of the Internet and its readiness to be filled with reflections of ourselves while the “you” defined this moment in terms of individual empowerment.

Tags: , , , , ,

Biography, Communication and Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Life Writing

Coda: Data Generation

20.09.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Coda: Data Generation

Auto/biography is just one of many disciplines that have been deeply influenced by advances in digital media and computing, and that have required new theoretical approaches to help understand the changes. As I have argued elsewhere, however, it may be that the digital revolution has had a more profound effect on biography and life writing than on any other branch of literature, perhaps any branch of the arts. In the 1990s, personal web pages and chatrooms offered new modalities for public and private expression that greatly facilitated life writing; this was a transformational period, opening up possibilities that have been multiplying ever since. In today’s era of ubiquitous computing and an increasingly data-driven global society, the Web has evolved to be an interface to a deeper layer of stores and flows of data that can be made manifest in many ways, in different views, and on any number of devices.

Tags: , , , , ,

Cultural Studies, History, Life Writing

Material Memory and the Digital

19.05.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Material Memory and the Digital

Over the past two decades, memory, understood as both the act of remembering and a means of storing memories, has been relocating itself. In its daily usage it has been moving from the mind to the computer—from neurological systems to digital technologies—as people increasingly outsource memory to digital devices. In this essay I focus on the changing nature of remembering—and forgetting—in the digital era. With an emphasis on personal stories I ask: How is intergenerational memory transfer changing as a result of digital media technologies? Specifically, what are the implications of the shift to digital storage and communication processes for the way we retain, pass on, or receive private and intimate material? How has this changed the way we see ourselves and view our lives, and allow others to see ourselves and our lives?

Tags: , , , , ,
« Previous Entries

Paul Arthur is Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Research Fellow and Chair in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia. He speaks and publishes widely on major challenges and changes facing 21st-century society, from the global impacts of technology on communication, culture and identity