Dissertation Defense: Ozge Calafato, Posing for the Republic. Making the Modern Turkish Citizen in Vernacular Photographs from the 1920s and 1930s

Posing for the Republic. Making the Modern Turkish Citizen in Vernacular Photographs from the 1920s and 1930s

Supervisors: Luiza Białasewicz, Esther Peeren. 25 November 2020, 13:00 hrs.

This research project focuses on photographic representations of the urban middle classes in Turkey in the 1920s and the 1930s in the context of a society undergoing rapid secularization and modernization. The project investigates the ways in which middle classes used portrait photography in and outside the studio to perform a new national identity following the foundation of the Republic in 1923. This dissertation looks at the role that photographic representations played in negotiating a desired identity for the newly minted Turkish citizens through a focus on the relationship between photography and gender, photography and body, photography and space as well as photography and language. It also explores the role of circulation of photographs with regard to the making of a modern citizen.

Dissertation Defense Nadia de Vries: Digital Corpses: Creation, Appropriation, and Reappropriation

Nadia de Vries | University of Amsterdam | Digital Corpses: Creation, Appropriation, and Reappropriation

Supervisors: Prof. Esther Peeren and Prof. Ellen Rutten

Now that everyday human life, including dying, is increasingly intertwined with digital technologies and online cultures, it is important to understand how this entanglement affects existing social norms, including those that relate to death. These social norms do not only pertain to our mourning practices (the honoring and remembering of lost loved ones on Facbook and Instagram, for example) but also to the ways in which we encounter – and engage with – images of death. Due to the large-scale shareability and malleability of online images, however, such images of death are also vulnerable to various forms of abuse. This research project focuses on three forms of such abuse – creation, appropriation and reappropriation – and investigates the power dynamics between living bodies and dead bodies that these forms of abuse reveal. Who, for instance, is the owner of a dead body once that dead body is turned into a digital image? Who is responsible for what happens to this dead body – as ‘corpse-image’ – as a result of its digitization? And what does the ease with which such a ‘digital corpse’ is created, appropriated or reappropriated say about the agency that the dead themselves have in a digital context? Through an analysis of six digital images of dead and dying bodies, found on social media and online shock sites but also in contemporary art and journalism (such as the infamous Falling Man image that was published in the aftermath of 9/11), this dissertation offers an answer to these questions.

Defense date:

Wednesday 2 December 2020, 14:00, Aula – Oude Lutherse Kerk (Singel 411), University of Amsterdam

Nadia de Vries is a writer and cultural researcher. Between 2016 and 2020, she conducted her PhD research at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). She is the author of the critical memoir Kleinzeer (Uitgeverij Pluim, 2019; in Dutch) and the poetry collection Dark Hour (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018; in English). She also frequently writes essays, poems, and stories for a variety of literary platforms. Her debut novel will be published by Uitgeverij Pluim in 2021.

Dissertation Defense Nadia de Vries: Digital Corpses: Creation, Appropriation, and Reappropriation

Now that everyday human life, including dying, is increasingly intertwined with digital technologies and online cultures, it is important to understand how this entanglement affects existing social norms, including those that relate to death. These social norms do not only pertain to our mourning practices (the honoring and remembering of lost loved ones on Facbook and Instagram, for example) but also to the ways in which we encounter – and engage with – images of death. Due to the large-scale shareability and malleability of online images, however, such images of death are also vulnerable to various forms of abuse. This research project focuses on three forms of such abuse – creation, appropriation and reappropriation – and investigates the power dynamics between living bodies and dead bodies that these forms of abuse reveal. Who, for instance, is the owner of a dead body once that dead body is turned into a digital image? Who is responsible for what happens to this dead body – as ‘corpse-image’ – as a result of its digitization? And what does the ease with which such a ‘digital corpse’ is created, appropriated or reappropriated say about the agency that the dead themselves have in a digital context? Through an analysis of six digital images of dead and dying bodies, found on social media and online shock sites but also in contemporary art and journalism (such as the infamous Falling Man image that was published in the aftermath of 9/11), this dissertation offers an answer to these questions.

Defense date: Wednesday 2 December 2020, 14:00 | Aula – Oude Lutherse Kerk (Singel 411) | University of Amsterdam

Nadia de Vries is a writer and cultural researcher. Between 2016 and 2020, she conducted her PhD research at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA). She is the author of the critical memoir Kleinzeer (Uitgeverij Pluim, 2019; in Dutch) and the poetry collection Dark Hour (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2018; in English). She also frequently writes essays, poems, and stories for a variety of literary platforms. Her debut novel will be published by Uitgeverij Pluim in 2021.

Living with Censorship: The Political Economy and Cultural Politics of Chinese Gay Dating Apps

Living with Censorship
Dissertation Defense Shuaishuai Wang

Living with Censorship: The Political Economy and Cultural Politics of Chinese Gay Dating Apps

Supervisors: Jeroen de Kloet and Rachel Spronk.
19 November, 10:00 hrs., Agnietenkapel.

This dissertation studies the political economy and cultural politics of Chinese gay dating apps, namely, Blued, Aloha, and ZANK. Unlike their Western counterparts such as Grindr and Jack’d whose functionalities are concentrated on location-based browsing, Chinese gay dating apps frequently integrate new features into their basic dating structures. Examples of which include live streaming, gaming, shopping, and overseas surrogacy consultation. Drawing on internet ethnographic data and interview data with their founders and users, this dissertation addresses two major questions. First, how do businesses based on gay dating apps develop amid close state surveillance? Second, how do users’ sexual and intimate desires shape and transform China’s digital pink economies and homosexual cultural politics? As China continues to problematize homosexuality in terms of obscenity and pornography in its regulatory documents, the booming economy of gay dating apps provides an entry point for rethinking the role of censorship in shaping Chinese gay lives. Using censorship as an analytical tool, I first show that Chinese gay dating apps can manoeuvre censorship in their favour to carry out economic activities. In this process, gay dating apps and the government become interdependent in the aspects of economic development, HIV/AIDS prevention, and internet security. I then examine how censorship has been woven into the everyday use of gay dating apps. As censorship increasingly disciplines users’ dating and live streaming activities, it has also inspired creative ways to satisfy their same-sex sexual/emotional needs in a regulatory environment. Together, this study shifts the focus in thinking about China’s homosexual cultural politics from identity formation, community organization, and media (mis)representation to the everyday sexual and emotional desires and related personal and bodily performances afforded by gay digital platforms.

Clocked! Time and Biopower in the Age of Algorithms

Clocked! investigates what algorithms are, how they operate, and how they evade our human perception through their machinic speeds of microtemporal processing. The study examines the influence of past and current technologies on human perception of time through the proposed concept of ‘techno-chrono-biopolitics’, and analyses how bodies are subjected to biopolitical control through time-related technologies. Highlighting the technological and chronological aspects of biopower, the works of Michel Foucault and his contemporaries are discussed to show how theories of discipline and biopower could be updated for the digital era. Against the ephemerality and invisibility that define our wireless internet, the work turns the focus back to bodies and the material dimension of technologies. From clock- use in colonisation and slavery to tracking algorithms on the Apple Watch and Quantified Self devices, the book traces how technology mediates time and inaugurates regimes of biopower on a planetary scale.

The abstract can be found here: https://dspace.library.uu.nl/handle/1874/373435 and here’s an even shorter summary: