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.

Bas den Herder: A Question of Autonomy – The interview in France, England and the Netherlands, 1880 – 2005 (2008-2014)

Bas den Herder – A Question of Autonomy – The interview in France, England and the Netherlands, 1880 – 2005
Project: Reporting at the boundaries of the public sphere. Form, Style and Strategy of European Journalism, 1880-2005
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Department of Journalism
prof. Marcel Broersma
2008 – 2014 (expected)

Journalistic Autonomy and the Political Interview

The political newspaper interview was introduced in the American ‘yellow press’ of the 1830s and in Europe from the 1850s onwards. That makes it a relatively new journalistic genre. Initially, it was not generally accepted to quote someone’s words directly. Therefore, the interview met with cultural resistance and it was not until the 1950s that it became a widely accepted, ordinary form of journalism. Nowadays, interviews are inevitable: in every newspaper, several of them are published. Politicians have always maintained an ambivalent position towards the interview. On the one hand, it is a unique way of easily reaching out personally to a large audience. On the other hand, being interviewed poses the risk of revealing too much or of making a public gaffe. There is no question, however, that over the longer 20th century, politicians became much more approachable and media-friendly.

Research question and Hypothesis

What is the impact of the increasing use of the interview as a genre on the individual autonomy and mutual interdependence of the journalistic and the political field in the Netherlands, Great Britain and France?

Increasing economic and political freedom leads to greater autonomy of the journalistic field. On the other hand, politicians have become much more media-savvy. I consider the history of journalism from the perspective of a continuous struggle for power between politicians and journalists.

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.



Tim van der Heijden: “Memory Practices on the Move: Technological Innovations and User Generations in Home Movies” (2012-2016)

Tim van der Heijden: “Memory Practices on the Move: Technological Innovations and User Generations in Home Movies” (2012-2016)

January 2012 – January 2016
Maastricht University
NWO “Changing Platforms of Ritualized Memory Practices. The Cultural Dynamics of Home Movies”
Maastricht University, Department of Literature and Arts
Supervised by: Dr. Andreas Fickers, Dr. Jo Wachelder, Prof. dr. Maaike Meijer (promotor)

This project focuses on the changing practices of home movie making from a long term perspective. In general, it aims to study how changing technologies of memory production (film, video or digital camera) have shaped new practices and rituals of memory staging (screening in domestic or public venues) and thereby initiated processes of (re)negotiating user generations and (group) identities. The project aims at spanning the whole period from before the introduction of 9,5mm and 16mm for amateur filmmakers, via video to end up with digital and mobile technologies. The research will elaborate upon the multi-dimensional concepts of ‘dispositif’ and ‘user generations’ to analyze the impact of technological innovations on memory practices. It will address its technical dimension (focusing on innovations and the life cycle of products), social dimension (focusing on the family and/or peers as a social frame), and cultural dimension (focusing on archival desires and the construction and reconstruction of memories and identities). The concept of generations and the interactions in and between generations will be a central element of the analysis.