PhD Defence Lianne Toussaint (Radboud University Nijmegen)

Photography by Roos van de Kieft

Wearing Technology
When Fashion and Technology Entwine

Date: Thursday, September 6, 2018 at 14.30 hours
Venue: Aula of the Radboud University, Comeniuslaan 2, Nijmegen.

On September 6, 2018 at 14:30, Lianne Toussaint will defend her doctoral thesis, Wearing Technology, When Fashion and Technology Entwine.

Tech Style

Since the nineties, fashion designers and engineers have been experimenting with the integration of technology into fashion. A robotic dress that protects your personal space, a shirt that sends hugs over distance, or trousers that help to correct posture; they now all exist in real life. Wearing Technology focuses on the emerging phenomenon of ‘techno-fashion’: garments that fuse technological functionalities with the socio-cultural role of fashion. Through a combination of literature study and interviews with designers and wearers, Lianne Toussaint explores the bodily, communicative, and ethical dimensions of techno-fashion. What does it mean to wear, rather than just use, technology? How does the integration of fashion and technology affect our physical relation to garments? The advent of techno-fashion is something to look forward to as well as prepare for. Its direct proximity to the body and powerful abilities urge an open yet critical stance towards its development and future implementation.


Pauline van Dongen,’Solar Windbreaker’ (2016)
Photography by Roos van de Kieft


PhD Defence Yu Sun

Engaging in politics: everyday political talk in online China

Date: 12th July, 2018
Time: 11:00
Venue: the Aula, Academy building (Broerstraat 5, University of Groningen)
Promotor: Prof. M.J. Broersma
Co-promotor: Dr T.S. Graham

On July 12, 2018 at 11:00,Yu Sun will defend her doctoral thesis, Engaging in politics: everyday political talk in online China.

Everyday online spaces may be the new and alternative places where people can talk about politics and engage in it. Accordingly, this study wonders how Chinese citizens’ everyday political talk in such spaces impacts their practice of citizenship and whether they will contribute to an active online public sphere in China.

This dissertation studies those small-scale interactions among ordinary citizens on the Chinese internet in the everyday life context. It shifts the focus to the citizen communications in internet-based everyday spaces beyond those traditional political spaces people join online. For this purpose, I study forums mixing politics with lifestyle issues or non-political online forums. Specifically, the study implies the approach of everyday political talk, which may serve as an alternative way to link Chinese citizens’ personal concerns to politics. Here, everyday political talk does not only imply mundane communicative practices per se but also bears the social-civic culture where those communicative actions take place. In other words, everyday political talk is situated in the local social-cultural context. By studying this, it is possible to probe into how citizens’ everyday life is interwoven with politics and how citizens think about and engage in politics in their lifeworld at the micro-level. Thus, it provides us opportunities to investigate the chances that everyday political talk opens up for the emergence of a public realm that cultivates and sustains a relatively autonomous space for new political formations in China.

PhD Defence Joëlle Swart (University of Groningen)

Date: June 28, 2018, 16.15hrs
Promotores: prof. dr Marcel Broersma (RUG) & prof. dr Irene Costera Meijer (VU); co-promotor: dr Chris Peters (Aalborg University Copenhagen)

On June 28, 2018 at 16:15, Joëlle Swart will defend her doctoral thesis, Haven’t you heard? Connecting through news and journalism in everyday life.

PhD defence Tom Slootweg (University of Groningen)

Resistance, Disruption and Belonging: Electronic Video in Three Amateur Modes

Date: Monday, April 9, 2018, 16:15
Venue: Aula of the Academy Building (University of Groningen), Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Promoters: Prof. H.B.M. Wijfjes and Dr. S.I. Aasman

On Monday April 9, 2018 at 16:15, Tom Slootweg will defend his doctoral thesis Resistance, Disruption and Belonging. The thesis returns to the period before the explosive rise of YouTube. The slow introduction of video as a consumer media technology, from the mid-1960s onwards, set in motion a long phase during which expectations were rife with video’s potential for everyday users in terms of participation and media democratisation. This particular era has been largely ignored in Dutch media history. In this thesis the gap is filled and it is revealed that video was able to capture popular imagination for a considerable amount of time during the second half of the twentieth century. By studying a wide array of sometimes forgotten sources, from official as well as private archives, a new picture emerges of a turbulent time in which the possibilities of video were understood in various ways. With three case studies of distinct historical amateur media practitioners, it is shown that video acquired meaning in terms of “resistance,” “disruption” and “belonging.” The thesis successively discusses a progressive video collective from The Hague, a traditional amateur film club in Groningen and a Dutch expat family in the Middle East. Whereas the idealistic collective claimed video to bring about socio-political change, and to give a voice to the under-represented, outspoken members of the amateur film club regarded the use of video as a threat to the cherished hobby and the spirit of community. The expat family, in contrast, saw many new possibilities in video to capture the dynamic of the family, in sound and vision, against the backdrop of a foreign environment that became their new, temporary home.

This doctoral research has been carried out in the context of the research project “Changing Platforms of Ritualized Memory Practices: The Cultural Dynamics of Home Movies”, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). It entailed a collaboration between Maastricht University, the University of Groningen and the University of Luxembourg, as well as various partners from the field of cultural heritage in the Netherlands and abroad.

For more information about this research project, see the weblog: You are cordially invited to attend the public defense, which will take place at the aula of the Academy Building (Broerstraat 5, Groningen). After the ceremony you are welcome for a drink at the Grand Theatre (Grote Markt 35, Groningen) between 17:30 and 18:30.

In case you have any questions, or would like to receive a digital copy of the thesis, please contact the paranymphs via:

PhD Defence: Rik Smit (University of Groningen)

Image: Sylvia van Schie, illustrator

Platforms of Memory: Social Media and Digital Memory Work

Date: 29 March 2018, at 16.00h
Venue: University of Groningen
Promotor: Prof. dr Marcel Broersma

On Thursday 29 March 2018, Rik Smit will defend his PhD Thesis Platforms of Memory: Social Media and Digital Memory Work.

People increasingly share their experiences and knowledge about the past on social media. Simultaneously, social media are enormous archives that contain vast amounts of audiovisual material from which the past is reconstructed. This study examines this ‘memory work’ by social media users and these platforms themselves by means of three case studies.

The first case study revolves around a chemical weapons attack in Syria in 2013. In the days after the attack, thousands of videos were uploaded on YouTube by various individuals and organizations with their own agendas. The research showed that especially videos edited by mainstream media gained popularity and visibility, instead of the material uploaded by witnesses. The main reason for this is that these media know how to curate footage well.

The second case study zooms in on the Facebook page Justice for Mike Brown. During and after the riots in Ferguson in 2014, this page was used for diverse types of memory work. Page users shared their personal memories of Michael Brown, reconstructed the shooting, created iconic and recognizable images and phrases, and made historical comparisons. Facebook’s technology played a guiding and shaping role in these practices, especially in terms of visibility and dominance of specific representations.

The final case study investigated the memory work behind the scenes of the Wikipedia page on MH17. Some editors have more power over how an event like the MH17 disaster is re-constructed on Wikipedia. They can also deny other editors from editing the page. This ultimately shaped the content of the wiki.

All three cases show that users as well as platforms themselves play an important part in the representation of the past in the present.

Image: Sylvia van Schie, illustrator