Ari Purnama: The Historical Poetics of Contemporary Southeast Asian Cinemas: Film Styles, Modes of Production, and Social Conditions (1997-present) (2012-2016)

Ari Purnama: The Historical Poetics of Contemporary Southeast Asian Cinemas: Film Styles, Modes of Production, and Social Conditions (1997-present)

University of Groningen, Department of Arts, Culture and Media— This research is a part of The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG)
Prof. Dr. E.J. (Liesbeth) Korthals Altes
Dr. Julian Hanich
September, 2012—August, 2016

This research project investigates fiction filmmaking in five Southeast Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines, since 1997 up to the present. The core focus of the study is to look at the interplay between aspects of film style, modes of production, and social conditions that surround the filmic works by approaching it from the ‘historical poetics of cinema’ framework. As such, the project examines the creative choices that the new generation of Southeast Asian filmmakers made and the enabling circumstances that accommodated their choice-making actions given the following constraints that they face in these historically and politically complicated nations: cultural taboos; strict government censorship; lack of infrastructure; non-existing government support; monopolized production and exhibition practices; competition with Hollywood films;  technological limitation; artistic traditions. The study tackles a threefold inquiry. First, at the stylistic level, it asks: How is the filmic medium (film style) employed to transform thematic materials? Second, at the historical-contextual level, it asks: What is the interplay between the films’ stylistic features and the contexts where the films are located (e.g. infrastructural conditions, regulatory frameworks, artistic conventions, critical reception, cultural traditions, and social dynamics)? Third, at the comparative-theoretical level, it asks: Are there shared commonalities and regularities among the films? What can these commonalities and regularities tell us about contemporary Southeast Asian fiction films in aesthetics terms? Moreover, what can they tell us about the artistic accomplishments of contemporary Southeast Asian fiction filmmakers and their positions in the globalized cinematic cultures today?

The study has several objectives. First, it seeks to generate fine-grained explanations on the poetics of these seemingly “culturally distant” and “exotic” films. Second, it attempts to expand and advance the scholarship of Southeast Asian cinemas by incorporating an objects-centered and historically sensitive approach to film study, i.e. ‘the historical poetics of cinema’, as its conceptual and methodological framework. Thirdly, it aims to contribute to the theorizing of Asian Cinema as a broader field of inquiry, and to generate knowledge about the complexity of film artistry and creative practices in Asian cinematic cultures.

Alex Gekker: Digital maps as objects of playful-casual power (2012-2016)

Alex Gekker: Digital maps as objects of playful-casual power

PhD candidate and researcher in “Charting the Digital” European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) / ERC Grant  agreement n° 283464.
Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON)Media and Performance Studies
Promoters and Supervisors: Prof. Joost Raessens (Utrecht University), Dr. Sybille Lammes (University of Warwick) and Chris Perkins (University of Manchester).
September 2012-August 2016


My research looks into the interrelations of digital maps, power, technology and interfaces, asking how is power (or attempts of it) being exerted through mutable reconfiguration of geographical signs on screens and the databases behind them. I examine this through ethnographic case studies, Actor-Network Theory and software studies.

Challenging the notion of the map as an objective depiction or as a scientific image has led to a renewed understanding of historic maps and their contemporary counterparts, but it was still bound to the unchanging, unyielding immutable mobiles (Latour 1988) paper maps created to keep the territory stable while being moved about.

That changes with the introduction of the digital map, a mutable mobile (Lammes 2009), consisting of a complex composite of materials, software and practices. The digital map is present in our phones, our navigational equipment, our games and our apps. It mundanely changes our relation to our environment and has an aspect of co-creation between the map maker and user largely absent from previous mapping practices. The map becomes a habitual practice, and there exist an increasingly growing cultural capital of usage and interaction with such maps.

This poses a new set of question, and, coupled with trends in contemporary cartography, allows for a re-examination of digital maps’ roles in the politic and power relations. If we take mapping as a navigational rather than mimetic practice, agreeing that the map does not resemble the territory but serves as a series of referents which assists a user in reaching a certain goal (November, Camacho-Hübner, and Latour 2010) then from an Actor-Network Perspective (Latour 1987; 2005), the digital map can be understood as a translational actor that allows effective combination of people, locations, objects, practices and policies to create change.

Arno van der Hoeven: Popular music heritage, cultural memory, and cultural identity (2010-2014)

Arno van der Hoeven: Popular music heritage, cultural memory, and cultural identity (2010-2014)

September 2010 – September 2014
Erasmus University, Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Culture and Communication
Promotor: Prof. Dr. Suanne Janssen

My research is part of the HERA-funded research project ‘Popular music heritage, cultural memory, and cultural identity’, which examines the increasing importance of popular music in contemporary renderings of cultural identity and local and national cultural heritage. For example, last year the Centraal Museum Utrecht dedicated an exhibition to punk. This demonstrates how the musical rebels of the past now have become museum pieces and are cherished as cultural heritage.

Drawing upon interviews with bloggers, curators, archivists, DJs and audiences, I examine the various ways by which popular music is remembered and invokes cultural memories. This ranges from the preservation of music artifacts in museum and archives, to online fan communities making available digitized recordings of pirate radio stations from the past. Furthermore, in a recently published article I examine how the sounds of subcultural genres are preserved at nostalgic dance parties.

In my research I find that the places where popular music is consumed are pivotal in the construction of popular music heritage and cultural identity. Local museums and archives present how global phenomena such as punk and rock ’n ’roll resounded into specific localities. In my dissertation I aim to explain what these cultural memories mean to local communities and the people who grew up with these sounds.

Daniëlle Bruggeman: The Performance of Identity through Fashion (2010-2013)

Daniëlle Bruggeman: The Performance of Identity through Fashion

Dutch Fashion Identity in a Globalised World (NWO)
Radboud University Nijmegen, department of Cultural Studies (Algemene Cultuurwetenschappen)
Prof.dr. Anneke Smelik (RUN) & prof.dr. Ulrich Lehmann (University for the Creative Arts, Rochester, UK)
January 2010 – December 2013

This research is part of the larger NWO-programme Dutch Fashion Identity in a Globalised World and explores the dynamic relationship between fashion and identity. The central question is how the theoretical notion of ‘cultural performance’ can help us understand how fashion and dressing function in the construction of individual and national identity.

The project looks at two levels of performance. First, the artistic performance as it takes place on the stage of the fashion show and in the medium of fashion photography. The main question here is how Dutch fashion brands create a specific identity in these media over a period of time. Second, the cultural performance of identity through fashion. Through the analysis of different visual media the hypothesis that fashion is an important way of performing one’s identity will be tested. This project aims at understanding the dynamics of identity as it is expressed through fashion as a creative performance.

The research project Dutch Fashion Identity in a Globalised World has four subprojects and is funded by the programme “Cultural Dynamics” from NWO (Netherlands Organisation of Scientific Research), Artez College of Art Arnhem, Saxion Universities Enschede, University of Amsterdam, Mr. Koetsier Fund for Fashion Industry, and the Premsela Fund for Dutch Design and Fashion.