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Prof. Larissa Hjorth

Artist/Digital Ethnographer

School of Media & Communication, RMIT University, Melbourne (AU)

«Selfie-as-eulogy: Affective witnessing, intimate publics and the mobile punctum»

In this talk I want to argue that the selfie can be understood as a tool for and of digital intimate publics. In particular, I want to focus upon the selfie as a site for misrecognition (Wendt 2015) as well as a vehicle for understanding trauma and grief. I will draw from the traumatic events of the South Korean ferry disaster of 2014 whereby over 250 high school children died. In this disaster (called “Sewol”) we see the power of the selfie to not only remind us that media has always been social, but that mobile media is challenging how the social is constituted by the political and the personal.

Here social media isn’t just a dissemination or publicity tool. It is part of the multiple seams that bind and unbind the personal to the political, the intimate to the public. While intimacy has always been mediated—if not by media, then by language, gestures and memory—we can see particular manifestations of continuities and discontinuities in and around mobile media practices. In particular, the Sewol disaster demonstrates the role of the selfie-as-eulogy.

In this paper I discuss a few key points in relation to the selfie-as-eulogy phenomenon. Firstly, this paper will consider a working definition of digital intimate publics and the role of affective witnessing (Papailias 2016). Secondly it considers Roland Barthes’s notion of the punctum (1981) in terms of the self-as-eulogy phenomenon.

Acknowledgment: This chapter is part of a broader study with Katie Cumiskey exploring the role of mobile media in processes of loss.

Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth is an artist and digital ethnographer in the School of Media & Communication, RMIT University. She studies the socio-cultural dimensions of mobile media and play in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, Hjorth’s work focuses upon intergenerational and cross-cultural approaches.

Hjorth has over twenty years’ experience working collaboratively upon interdisciplinary projects in the Asia-Pacific region. She combines ethnography with creative work to probe everyday mobile media practices. She also originally trained as an analogue photographer and has watched her four year degree become a filter on Instagram.

Dr. Adi Kuntsman


Department of Languages, Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University (UK)

«Thinking selfies politically»

The talk will bring together materials from my recently published book (with Rebecca L. Stein), Digital Militarism, on the phenomenon of “selfie militarism” – the use of selfies by soldiers on and off battlefield, and my new work on “selfie citizenship” which examines political uses of selfies in various locations, their global circulation, and their changing currency.

Adi Kuntsman’s work lies at the intersection of cybercultures/digital and social media; anti-colonial and feminist scholarship; queer theory; and social research on war, nationalism and colonialism. Adi’s fields of geographic and thematic interest are broad and diverse: she has written on queer racisms in Israel-Palestine; on sexuality and class in Gulag historiography; on digital horizons of hatred in post-Soviet diaspora; and on social media in militarized settings across the world. The common thread in all of her work is her interest in violence – its affective economy and its cultural imageries, its seductive power and its bargaining value. More specifically, Adi explores the political effects of living with violence as a perpetrator, a spectator, a bystander, or a complicit beneficiary.

Adi is the author of Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Mingranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond (2009), and the co-editor of Queer Necropolitics (with Jin Haritaworn and Silvia Posocco, 2014); Digital Cultures and the Politics of Emotion: Feelings, Affect and Technologica Change (with Athina Karatzogianni, 2012); and Out of Place: Interrogating Silences in Queerness/ Raciality (with Esperanza Miyake, 2008). Adi’s new book, DigitalMilitarism: Israeli Occupation in the Social Media Age (co-authored with Rebecca L. Stein) , has just come out from Stanford University Press. It examines mobile technologies and social media as tools, sites, and languages of Israeli militarist violence in its ordinary, everyday forms.

Prof. Amparo Lasén

Professor of sociology

Departamento de Sociología I, Complutense University of Madrid (Spain)

«Digital Self-Portraits and the Modulation of Intimacy»

Drawing on empirical research about the production and sharing of digital self-portraits, carried out with adults (25-45 years old) in Madrid, this talk discusses how self-portraits practices and their display and exchange entail three different and interrelated aspects: presentation, representation and embodiment, involved in contemporary ways of creating, sustaining and modulating intimacy.

Amparo Lasén, holds a Ph.D. from the University Paris V-La Sorbonne. She is Professor of Sociology at the University Complutense de Madrid and member of the research group Sociología Ordinaria Her research focuses on the social implications of the usages, practices and presence of ICT especially in relationship with affectivity, the configuration of contemporary subjectivities and intimacies, and everyday life. Prior to her current position, she was the Vodafone Surrey Scholar at the DWRC of Surrey University, where she conducted cross-cultural research on mobile phone uses and practices. She has been academic visitor at the Department of Sociology of the LSE and researcher of the CEAQ (Centre d’Études de l’Actuel et du Quotidien) Paris V-La Sorbonne.