PhD defence: Rashid Gabdulhakov – Erasmus University Rotterdam

Digital vigilantism in Russia: Citizen-led justice in the context of social change and social harm

Thursday 7 Oct 2021, 10:30 – 12:00
Location: Campus Woudestein | Senate Hall

On 7 October 2021, Rashid Gabdulhakov is scheduled to defend his PhD dissertation “Digital vigilantism in Russia: Citizen-led justice in the context of social change and social harm”. The defence will take place at 10:30 CET at the Senate Hall of Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Promotor: Prof. dr. Susanne Janssen
Co-promotor: Dr. D. Trottier

This dissertation describes four years of scientific inquiry into the phenomenon of digital vigilantism. Focusing on Russia, it investigates a unique case where the ruling elites are negotiating a relationship with some digitally savvy citizens while censoring the digital domain and otherwise controlling online self-expression.

The PhD defence can also be followed via livestream. A direct link to the livestream can be found here soon.

Critical Humanities 2021-2022: Keywords for the Never-Normal

Image: No Going Back (Amsterdam 2020)

—Image: No Going Back (Amsterdam 2020)—

Radboud University Nijmegen

Semester 1: October 5, November 9, December 7
Semester 2: TBA

Niels Niessen (
Jeroen Boom (


In times of crisis in which life wavers between old and new normalities, it is important to keep a keen eye for what connects the “old” and the “new,” the ideological structures driving all that normalizing. This year’s Critical Humanities program continues the group’s ambition to think through cultural objects and phenomena that at once express and emerge from crisis (ecological, socioeconomic, cultural, identitarian). A crisis is a cut, a rupture of the ordinary. At the same time, every crisis is also a bridge, a window in time between inseparable eras. Crises, after all, do not happen to capitalism, they are inherent to its very modus operandi. Crises are very normal.

So how to think through crisis? With reference to the group’s mission statement, we continue to engage this question with angles at once acute and long-historical, theoretical and experimental. While doing so, the program takes inspiration from Raymond Williams, one of the founders of cultural studies as an interdiscipline that never takes “normal” for an answer. But Williams was also an historian, which makes his perspective a suited point of reference for this group, which also brings together historical and cultural-studies approaches. In his seminal book Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society from 1976, Williams explores how the definitions and meanings of words in the English language (“culture,” “family,” “ordinary,” to name a few) have shifted according to their cultural and historical contexts. We ask, what if this text was written in our current affective, political, and ecological climate of covid lockdowns, carbon capitalism, big tech, liquid (post)modernity, and also ongoing pressure on academia in general and the humanities in particular? What would be some of the words—at once familiar and strange—that allow us to de-normalize and queer shifting truths in contemporary discourses? The keywords proposed here (“new normal,” “awkward,” “burn-out,” “parasite,” “breathing,” “regenerative,” “touch,” “orientation”) could of course have been different, but we believe they are some good entries to parse the material spirit of our shared present. We will examine how these words occur in different disciplinary ‘dialects’, how they traverse different realms and fields of knowledge.

Sessions will for now be organized in hybrid on-site-online form with a surveillance-capitalism-proof connection for those who cannot attend on campus.

Are you interested in joining one or more sessions, or to be added to the mailing list, please send an email to Niels Niessen ( or Jeroen Boom (


Semester 1:

Normal (October 5, 15:30, Erasmusgebouw 9.14)

Do we really need a new “normal” in times of climate catastrophe, surveillance capitalism and queer and Black Lives Matter activism?

Facilitators: Niels Niessen and Jeroen Boom


  • Carolyn Pedwell, Revolutionary Routines (2021)
  • Timothy Morton and Dominic Boyer, Hyposubjects: On Becoming Human (2021)
  • Raymond Williams, “Ordinary” (in Keywords)
  • Maria Moran, “Keywords as Methods” (2021)


Awkward (November 9, 15:30, Erasmusgebouw 9.14)

What new social discomforts, offline and online, does the “new normal” bring?

Facilitator: Yosha Wijngaarden

Readings (preliminary):

  • Adam Kotsko, Awkwardness (2010)
  • Melissa Dahl, Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness (2018)

Burn-out (December 7, 15:30, Erasmusgebouw 9.14, in collaboration with the Open University’s ‘Critical Thinking in the Humanities’ group)

When did exhaustion (of the planet, of people, also in academia) become normal?

Facilitator: Sarah de Mul (Open University)

Readings (TBA)

Semester 2

Parasite (January 2022, TBA)

How to embrace the figure of the “parasite” and the “viral” as forms of productive resistance and disorder?


Breathing (February 2022, TBA)

What different and shifting meanings does the term “breathing” bear within discourses of Black Lives Matter, mass extinction, and also mindfulness?


Regenerative (March 2022, TBA)

What critiques of “sustainability” do we find in discourses on regenerative culture (as they circulate for example in Extinction Rebellion)?

Touch (April 2022, TBA)

How has the era of social distancing (understood in a long-historical context) affected our capacity to touch and being touched?

Orientation (May 2022, TBA)

What orients our everyday experience, our “normal” lives?

We are live: check out the first episode of our new podcast ‘In Media Res’!

Have you ever wondered what happens after obtaining a PhD in Media Studies? In this podcast series, the RMeS PhD council interviews various media doctors that either work in or outside academia to hear from their experiences.

In the first episode, Bartosz Zerebecki (EUR) interviews Roel Lutkenhaus, who obtained a PhD in Media Studies in 2020. After researching entertainment in education, Roel stepped out of academia and founded New Momentum – a start-up in the South of Rotterdam that develops digital research methods to create (public) media campaigns in collaction with participatory audiences. Listen to the first episode of In Media Res on Spotify here, on Apple Music here, on Google Podcasts here, and on Reason here.



Congratulations to our first RMeS director José van Dijck for winning the Spinoza award!

— Image: José van Dijck Beeld NWO, fotografie: Studio Oostrum —

José van Dijck is Professor of Media and Digital Society at Utrecht University. Her research investigates the impact of digital media on our social lives. Her work has laid the foundation for our research school and our field of Media Studies more broadly.

She has contributed to an understanding of the societal impact of new media technologies that she analyses in groundbreaking interdisciplinary research. The Spinoza award is a well-deserved recognition of her great work and scholarship.

RMeS RMa course: Arts, Life Science and Digital Culture

When? Winter/Spring 2022, exact dates TBA
Where? Leiden University
Coordinator? Dr. Ksenia Fedorova
Organisation? RMeS
For? First and second year RMa students in Media Studies, who are a member of a Dutch Graduate Research School (onderzoekschool). Students who are members of RMeS will have first access.
Registration will open September 2021.

In this course students examine ethical and humanistic dimensions of life sciences through art and explore the possibilities of the usage of digital methods. From the onset of medical research in history, the cultural worlds of art and science have interacted. More recently, artists have been directly inspired by genetic and biomedical sciences. The science-art relationship has become an exciting and dynamic field where controversial ethical issues, societal consequences of science, and the art of science itself are being addressed. How do artworks provoke new ways of thinking about science and the world? What moral and critical dilemmas are involved in the intersections between science and society and how can art play a role in this? The usage of biofeedback tracking and other digital technologies invites yet another series of questions about the impacts of algorithmization on our relation to the body and knowledge about physical and organic processes in general. Finally, looking at the biological entities in terms of their agency will allow a discussion about the shift towards the posthumanist paradigm in today’s humanities and science studies.

Course objectives

The student will:

  • Learn to reflect on the life sciences by discussing contemporary art;
  • gain insights into social and cultural consequences of the life sciences by study of art works;
  • be able to signal ethical issues and controversies in science addressed by art;
  • broaden his/her perspective on science by working in interdisciplinary groups of Science and Art students.


  • will be given an opportunity to articulate their moral attitudes, and explore during meetings other reasoned arguments that challenge their existing assumptions and ethical positions.
Mode of instruction
  • Seminar
  • Excursion
Assessment method

Art History students (10 EC)

  • participation in discussions, presentations and reports site visits (25%);
  • presentation of proposal for digital exhibition (25%);
  • written paper of 4500 words (50%).
  • each ResMA student must fulfil an extra assignment per course, in order to demonstrate their ability to work with more advanced theoretical and disciplinary questions beyond the normal MA level, to be decided by lecturer and student.

The final grade is the average of the three grades (25%, 25%, 50%). A student passes the course if the weighted average is a 6.0 or higher (marks under 5.0 are not allowed) and the paper is a 6.0 or higher.


There is a re-sit for every assessment.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The booktitles and / or syllabi to be used in the course, where it can be purchased and how this literature should be studied beforehand.
The reading list will be made available through Brightspace.