Biography, Cultural Studies, Historical Studies, Life Writing

Migrant Nation

30.11.17 | Permalink | Comments Off on Migrant Nation

‘Migrant Nation: Australian Culture, Society and Identity’, the new edited collection from Anthem Press, 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 December 2017:

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Biography, Cultural Studies, Life Writing, Literary Studies

Private Lives, Intimate Readings

08.05.15 | Permalink | Comments Off on Private Lives, Intimate Readings

In any attempt to report on the life of another, or even one’s own life, an inescapable ethical dilemma arises that relates to entering intensely private areas of experience and presenting intimate subject matter for the world to see. How much intimate material should be revealed? For what purpose? To whose benefit? At what risk? How?

In an era when millions of people are willing to share the minutiae of their individual daily lives via social media and the private lives of the famous are exposed routinely to mass audiences, such questions loom larger than ever. With easier access to private information—by governments, hackers, marketers, and private citizens—this area has become one of global concern in the context of the fundamental human right to privacy. Critical engagement with the private and the intimate has always been a key characteristic of life-writing studies, and this field has made a noteworthy contribution to contemporary reconceptualisations of the private and the public spheres and the intricate interconnections between them.

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Communication and Media Studies, Digital Scholarship, e-Research, Humanities

Advancing Digital Humanities

05.11.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Advancing Digital Humanities

Advancing Digital Humanities moves beyond definition of this dynamic and fast growing field to show how its arguments, analyses, findings and theories are pioneering new directions in the humanities globally. Sections cover digital methods, critical curation and research futures, with theoretical and practical chapters framed around key areas of activity including modelling collections, data-driven analysis, and thinking through building. These are linked through the concept of ‘ambitious generosity’, a way of working to pursue large-scale research questions while supporting and enabling other research areas and approaches, both within and beyond the academy.

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Cultural Studies, Digital Scholarship, e-Research, Humanities

Launch of HuNI Virtual Laboratory for Australian Cultural Data

01.11.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Launch of HuNI Virtual Laboratory for Australian Cultural Data

The Humanities Networked Infrastructure (HuNI) is a national Virtual Laboratory project developed as part of the Australian government’s NeCTAR (National e-Research Collaboration Tools and Resources) program. HuNI combines information from 30 of Australia’s most significant cultural datasets. These datasets comprise more than 2 million authoritative records relating to the people, organisations, objects and events that make up Australia’s rich cultural heritage. HuNI also enables researchers to work with and share this large-scale aggregation of cultural information. HuNI has been developed as a partnership between 13 public institutions, led by Deakin University. By providing researchers worldwide with access to the combined resources of Australia’s most important cultural datasets and information assets, HuNI is recognised as the first national, cross-disciplinary virtual laboratory of its kind to be established anywhere in the world.

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Biography, Cultural Studies, Life Writing, Literary Studies

Memory and Commemoration in the Digital Present

30.10.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Memory and Commemoration in the Digital Present

The first ‘Digital Death Day,’ held on 20 May 2010, brought together world experts in the fields of death studies, social networking and data management. Promoting the event, coordinator Jennifer Holmes commented, “The online memorial has already become the new grave” (Andrews 2010). How seriously should we take such a statement? Was this turn of phrase simply intended to indicate the increasing dependence on digital media for performing social rituals? Or has online memorialisation in fact created a new kind of ‘resting place’ for the deceased and if so what is the nature of that place and how do the living relate to it? Whether through intentional online memorialisation or through the unplanned bestowing of an afterlife on anyone who has had an active online presence in life, it is now indisputable that the digital world is being populated, at an exponentially growing rate, by the stories, images, traces and voices of the dead – so much so that this digital afterlife can be seen as a new kind of immortality.

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Biography, Cultural Studies, Life Writing

Framing Lives

05.10.14 | Permalink | Comments Off on Framing Lives

Never before in the history of representation have there been so many available ways for art to represent and to “frame” lives. At the same time, the explosion of biographical information that social media have enabled has demonstrated dramatically the illusionist basis of the enterprise of biographical containment. The very idea of “auto/biography” has in recent years broken out of its own conventional frames to enlist genres and modes of representation that have more commonly operated in other arenas or have played supporting roles, rather than taking center stage themselves, as they do in many of the biographical works considered in this collection of essays. Whether their focus is on cartoons, photographs, installations, graphic memoirs, films, games, or narrative texts, these essays rigorously explore and unravel the notion of “framing” as it applies to presenting and displaying lives.

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