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.

Arjen Nauta | Governing Through Reality TV in China: The Case of Hunan Satellite TV

Arjen Nauta | University of Amsterdam, Department of Media Studies | Supervisors: Prof. Jeroen de Kloet and Prof. José van Dijck | January 2015 – February 2019 | apm.nauta[at] / a.p.m.nauta[at]

Governing Through Reality TV in China: The Case of Hunan Satellite TV
ChinaCreative, funded by the ERC (Consolidator grant), led by prof. Jeroen de Kloet

My research seeks to address the surge of reality television in China in the 21st century within strategies of governance. First, I analyze the political economy in which television makers operate. Then, based on one year of ethnographic research at HSTV in Changsha, I show how political and economic factors influence the daily labor of production. For example, what does the rapid expansion of digital media technologies mean for production? And what about censorship? Which constraints are placed on television makers and how do they deal with them? Secondly, I focus on the product (reality shows) and examine how reality TV diffuses and amplifies the government of everyday life, utilizing the cultural power of television to assess and guide the ethics, behaviors, aspirations, and routines of ordinary people. And thirdly, I seek to understand the tactics of consumption; how do individuals act in environments defined by governmental or institutional strategies? This research therefore hopes to shed light not only on processes of governance in contemporary China, but to show as well how media practitioners are not just political agents who superimpose official propaganda; they are imbedded in the governance of a media ecology shaped by a multitude of interlacing forces.



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:

Stefan Baack: Knowing what counts. How journalists and civic technologists use and imagine data

Stefan Baack | University of Groningen, Media Studies and Journalism | Supervisors: Prof. dr Marcel Broersma and Prof. dr Tamara Witschge | September 2013 – August 2017 | sbaack[at]

Knowing what counts. How journalists and civic technologists use and imagine data

My dissertation examines how the growing reliance on data and the steady quantification of social life affects democratic publics. It studies the practices and social imaginaries of two actors who facilitate the use quantitative techniques in key areas of public space: data activists and data journalists. As data activists, I describe activists in the open data and civic tech movements who develop projects that aim to make engagement with authorities easier for citizens, e.g. parliamentary monitoring websites that make parliamentary speeches more accessible. Data journalism is used as a label to describe all forms of journalism that work with quantitative data. Data journalists and data activists are relevant because they are so called ‘pioneer communities’ for the use of data within civil society and journalism, which means that they act as exemplars that provide orientation for others.

The thesis is based on three case studies and asks two research questions: (1) What is the role of data in the social imaginaries and practices of data activists and data journalists; and (2) how do the practices and imaginaries of these actors diverge and converge, and how does this shape the entanglements between them? The study shows, first, that the implications of data for democratic publics cannot be determined in an abstract way because they are socially and historically situated and, second, that datafication is creating new entanglements between actors who aspire to work in a public interest, which affects how classic democratic visions are being implemented.

Leonieke Bolderman: Musical Topophilia. A Critical Analysis of Contemporary Music Tourism

Leonieke Bolderman | Erasmus University Rotterdam, Department of Arts and Culture | Supervisors: Prof. dr Stijn Reijnders and prof. dr Susanne Janssen | 01 February 2013 – 01 February 2017 (defense date: 22 March 2018) | s.l.bolderman[at] (currently employed at the University of Groningen)

Musical Topophilia. A Critical Analysis of Contemporary Music Tourism
This research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the project ‘Locating Imagination. An Interdisciplinary Perspective on Literary, Film and Music Tourism’, grant number PR-11-77 (‘Vrije Competitie’).

Music tourism is an increasingly popular practice. Why would people be interested in visiting places related to music? How can something abstract like music lead to tourism, and what makes this activity meaningful to those concerned? In this dissertation these questions are answered by analyzing music tourism as a form of ‘musical topophilia’: creating, developing and celebrating an affective attachment to place through and with music. Interviews with tourists and participant observation of seven examples of music tourism across Europe support and refine this theory. Thereby, this dissertation captures the complex and often quite abstract ways music, place and tourism are connected in practice, showing how and why music literally moves people.