[Air-L] Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies hosts five international research fellows in the field of critical digital & social media studies

Christian Fuchs christian.fuchs at uti.at
Tue Aug 2 04:33:06 PDT 2016

The Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies hosts five international 
research fellows


Five scholars have been awarded fellowships at the Westminster Institute 
for Advanced Studies (IAS) during the academic year 2016/17: Dr Arwid 
Lund (Sweden), Dr Bingqing Xia (China), Dr Claudio Celis Bueno (Chile), 
Dr Ergin Bulut (Turkey), Dr Lynete Lusike Mukhongo (Kenya). All five are 
experts in the research field of critical digital and social media studies.

The Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies is an academic space for 
independent critical thinking beyond borders at the University of 
Westminster in London - http://www.westminster.ac.uk/wias Its primary 
research focus is on critical digital and social media studies.

Professor Christian Fuchs, Director of the IAS, comments: “Digital and 
social media have become ubiquitous in everyday life and society. 
Critical studies of data and digital media’s role in society’s power 
structures are much needed today. The IAS is excited to be able to host 
five distinguished international experts in critical digital media 
studies during the academic year 2016/17. The research fellows’ projects 
focus on various economic and political aspects of digital media in 
global society. They show the importance of critical thinking and 
critical research about the Internet in the information age”.

Dr Claudio Celis Bueno is a postdoc researcher at Diego Portales 
University in Chile. His fellowship project will start on 5 September 
2016, and will focus on the analysis of the role of digital media in the 
movies of the filmmaker and video artist Harun Farocki. He comments: “My 
research focuses on the relationships between images and power in 
contemporary society. The work of Harun Farocki offers a powerful tool 
in order to analyse the current role of images in contemporary society. 
Farocki explores the role of the visual in labour processes and how new 
algorithmic machines replace both manual labour and information labour. 
I will examine the role of operative images in Farocki’s documentary 
films and video installations. An operational image is a type of image 
that is part of a technical operation. Examples include images intended 
for surveillance, medical, industrial, logistic, or military purposes”.

Dr Bingqing Xia, who is an assistant professor at Macau University of 
Science and Technology, will commence her IAS fellowship on 12 December 
2016. Her research topic is the study of the Chinese Internet economy in 
context of crisis tendencies. Dr Xia describes her fellowship project: 
“In 2015, the number of Chinese Internet users had reached 670 million. 
Since 2015, when the Chinese economy slowed down, much attention has 
been given to the Internet industries. The Chinese Internet industry at 
the moment especially has a focus on O2O (online to offline) services 
and big data. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT) are the three largest 
Internet companies in China. BAT planned to invest a lot in new O2O 
services. My research asks if the Chinese Internet economy is a big 
bubble or not and what role low-level technical labour plays in it”.

Dr Arwid Lund, from Uppsala University in Sweden, is studying discourses 
on open knowledge during his IAS fellowship. He completed the first part 
of his stay in July 2016 and will commence the second part on 3 April 
2017. He comments: “The movement for Open Knowledge is a broad movement 
spanning new publishing models in science, commons-based ways of 
producing software, knowledge and design, e-governance and big data 
analytics. My project conducts a detailed analysis of what the open 
knowledge movement’s ideological landscape looks like. It asks: How does 
the movement understand its political position and mission? How do open 
knowledge activists assess commercial social media and big data services 
and the commercial digital economy in general?”

Dr Lynete Lusike Mukhongo is a senior lecturer at Moi University in 
Kenya. Her fellowship research, that will start on 17 May 2016, will 
study how Kenya’s announcement that it wants to leave the International 
Criminal Court has been discussed on social media. Dr Mukhongo says 
about her IAS fellowship project: “The International Criminal Court 
(ICC) was established by the Rome Statute which came into force in 2002. 
Its jurisdiction is to prosecute international crimes against humanity. 
Kenya signed the Rome statute in 1999 and ratified it in 2005. There 
have been calls by the African Union for withdrawal from the 
International Criminal Court. The study aims to undertake an analysis of 
how users in Kenya communicate about this political issue. The study 
wants to identify diverging views among Kenyans on Twitter on themes 
related to justice, accountability, imperialism, emancipation, 
Africanness, postcolonial identity, and African states’ threats to 
withdraw from the ICC”.

Dr Ergin Bulut is an assistant professor at Koc University in Turkey. He 
will start his IAS fellowship on 1 June 2017. It will focus on the 
analysis of labour conditions in the video game industry. Dr Bulut 
comments on the importance of studying the digital game industry: “There 
is much hype regarding the potentials of creative economy and creative 
production. Young people tend to regard video game development as a 
dream job. Our society also preaches that young people should do what 
they love and be ready to work for free if they really want to have a 
job in the video game industry or other creative industries. An inquiry 
of the game industry enables us to understand both the pleasures and 
pains of game development and interrogate the politics of this ‘dream 
job’ discourse”.

Prof. Christian Fuchs
University of Westminster,
Director of the Westminster Institute for Advanced Studies

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