ECREA Conference in Prague next week

e34109_a894f728926943c1ac5bcd07469a9d87mv2I look forward to the ECREA conference in Prague. It has been 7 years since my first ECREA involvement in the PhD summerschool in Estonia in 2009, which is a long time ago! I am stepping up to be elected as Chair of the Digital Culture and Communication Section this year, after 2 years tenure as Vice Chair and another 2 years as YECREA Representative prior to that.

I am also excited about our panel session Imagining Data Futures: Mediated (Dis)Continuities in Everyday Life and the Lab (on November 11th, 16:00 – 17:30, Meeting Hall 4/A), with Ryan Burns and Maria Sourbati, and with Stefan Baack. Prof Helen Kennedy (Sheffield) will be respondent.  

Join us in Prague, and if you are a parent maybe you are interested in the Academic parents group and information that we set up for the conference with Tereza.

Imagining Data Futures: Mediated (Dis)Continuities in Everyday Life and the Lab, on November 11th, 16:00 – 17:30, Meeting Hall 4/A

Chair: Helen Kennedy, United Kingdom
Panellist:  R. Burns, United Kingdom
Panellist:  M. Sourbati, United Kingdom
Panellist:  A. Fotopoulou, United Kingdom

Thinking about self-tracking, wearables & biopedagogy

fitbitDelighted that the article I wrote with Kate O’Riordan (as part of our EU-funded EPINET project) on wearable sensors and fitness tracking has now just been published online in the academic journal Health Sociology Review  here. It is part of a special issue on self-tracking, edited by Deborah Lupton, and I can’t wait to read the cutting edge work of other colleagues in this same volume. The article is called ‘Training to self-care: fitness tracking, biopedagogy and the healthy consumer’ and it is  based on research around Fitbit, a wearable sensor device, through two complementary analytical approaches: auto-ethnography and media analysis. Drawing on the concept of biopedagogy, which describes the processes of learning and training bodies how to live, we focus on how users learn to self-care with wearable technologies through a series of micropractices that involve processes of mediation and the sharing of their own data via social networking. Our discussion is oriented towards four areas of analysis: data subjectivity and sociality; making meaning; time and productivity and brand identity. We articulate how these micropractices of knowing one’s body regulate the contemporary ‘fit’ and healthy subject, and mediate expertise about health, behaviour and data subjectivity.

You can download the article here http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14461242.2016.1184582

Autumn 2014 update!

There has been so much going on during the last few months and so little time to update the blog! After coming back from the States (my activities there are summarised in this report:  AFotopoulou_Nemode End of Placement052014 –Tracking biodata: Ownership & sharing, research placement output, RCUK Digital Economy NEMODE), I’ve been busy writing up a bunch of articles. My research in San Francisco was only partly about the Quantified Self (there is plenty of ethnographic research being done by anthropologists at the moment, such as Dawn Nafus), and it has resulted in a rather sociological approach to the phenomenon – which got published recently in Open Democracy. Here I raise some questions about the political potential of formations that engage with data policy in some way or another (such as the Quantified Self), and propose that this experimental engagement (a bit geeky, technical, but at the same time involving storytelling and meeting offline) might signify a new type of public, what I heuristically call ‘smart publics’. Of course this idea, and a theorisation of ‘smart publics’, is developed more clearly in an academic article (forthcoming, watch this space!).

At this point, priority for me has taken writing about cultural understandings of data sharing, and the underlying discourses that circulate in the media, particularly in fiction. I have been exploring how circulating ideas of ‘data utopia’ (a utopia of data abundance and a particular vision of democracy) informs user practices. I happily completed a draft of the article, with a working title ‘All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data’ and due for submission any time now, during a three-day writing retreat at Forrest Hills, in Lancaster, organised by the Department of Sociology. Of course I’ve been testing these ideas since February this year, first in an invited talk at the Center for Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz, and then at Crossroads 2014,  the Cultural Studies Conference, in July in Finland, in a panel on Permeable Boundaries: Bodies in Science, Medicine, and Culture.

Joining the Department of Sociology in Lancaster University, on September 1st, has of course been absolutely thrilling – it’s a top department and a great fit for my work – especially because of the Centre for Science Studies and the Gender & Women’s Studies Centre (with current directors Imogen Tyler & Celia Roberts, and former directors Jackie Stacey, Sara Ahmed, Celia Lury, Bev Skeggs, Gail Lewis, Lynne Pearce, Anne-Marie Fortier, Vicky Singleton and Maureen McNeil). I have now the opportunity to complete my monograph ‘Feminist activism and new media: digital and networked by default?’, which will be published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2016. This is based on my PhD thesis but will include some new research and a refined theoretical framework. I pose a question in the subtitle, which many people have found intriguing – and I explain why I pose the question in the article Digital and Networked by default? Women’s organisations and the social imaginary of networked feminism, coming out any day now in New Media & Society. (So watch this space too!)

July also brought about the publication of the special issue on Queer feminist media praxis, which I co-edited with Alex Juhasz and Kate O’Riordan in  Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No.5. And the launch of  SusNet – the CCN+ funded network which brings together feminist cultural production, art and activist practices and enables exchanges between different researchers, activists, artists and aims to contribute to knowledge exchanges across these areas and beyond.

 

So a lot of research activity and productive interactions this Autumn – but I’m also looking forward to teaching Media and Cultural Studies courses. This term I’m teaching the 101 course in Media and Cultural Studies with Adam Fish, and Critical Cultural Theory with Debra Ferreday. Good stuff!

 

The Quantified Self community, lifelogging and the making of “smart” publics | openDemocracy

The Quantified Self community, lifelogging and the making of “smart” publics | openDemocracy.

My latest article about the QS, published in Open Democracy, where I examine the political potential of self-tracking communities. I am developing the idea of ‘smart’ publics further in a forthcoming academic article.

my paper Quantifying the Self at XR2014

My paper Quantifying the Self: All these emotions, all these yearnings, all these data

Aristea Fotopoulou

at Crossroards in Cultural Studies in Tampere Finland is in

SESSIONS H Wednesday 15:45–17:15 H1 Permeable Boundaries: Bodies in Science, Medicine, and Culture

(Chair: Michelle Iwen, Arizona State University, United States).

Paper abstract

This paper examines the emerging culture of the Quantified Self movement, whose
practitioners undertake a range of practices of data collection, management and analysis, in order to produce knowledge about the self. The movement has been recently understood in terms of surveillance (Phillips) and the Panopticon (Bossewitch and Sinnreich). Drawing from fieldwork with San Francisco and London-based quantifiers, this paper focuses instead on what people do with the new technologies, what tracking means for them and how it gets embedded in their everyday lives. The analysis engages with media (Couldry, Hepp), sociological and anthropological work (Durkheim, Goffman) on rituals, to approach Quantified Self as a media culture that performs ritualistic reconstructions of the Self, and shows how the movement constantly reinvents itself and its position in existing social structures through the narratives that it produces and circulates in the media.

Panel Abstract

This panel will present papers that look at how science, medicine and culture construct,
regulate and/or challenge physical bodies and their borders. More specifically, we will
examine the problematic nature of a normalized “self”, complicated by issues of bodily
excretions and the prevalence of nonhuman biological material within the human body.
This concern for a human “self” is troubled in 18th century Enlightenment discourses of theinterior/exterior bodily boundary and issues of a gender binary, secreting organs, anddisturbances of mood. Moving the body into the 21st century, these same concerns over interior/exterior boundaries resurface in the narratives of bodies in outer space, as concerns about excretion and reproductive capacity unfold along gendered lin
es in biomedical research beyond the bounds of our planet. Finally, we will examine how the idea of a traditionally bounded “self” is potentially challenged by contemporary
immunology/microbiology and explore the subsequent consequences for health practices.