About the Symposium

Selfie Subjectivities Research Symposium, 5-6 April 2018

RMIT University and Swinburne University of Technology

Organisers: Associate Professor Anne Harris, RMIT University & Professor Kath Albury, Swinburne University of Technology

Co-sponsored by Creative Agency; Swinburne University of Technology Social Media Research Group; Design & Creative Practice ECP Platform (RMIT); and Digital Ethnography Research Centre (RMIT).

Online practices, platforms and communities / networks have changed the way we understand story and share subjectivities. The performance of self has never been so agile, so interpersonal and so material as it is in online selfie production.

Whether ‘self-promotional’ or for ‘fun’, selfie constructions are thoroughly relational. The ‘imagined other’ is always present in a selfie, and this gathering interrogates the contingent subjectivity of selfie as a performance, rather than an artefact. Platform affordances – from Snapchat’s flower-crown to FaceApp’s ‘Ageing’ filters – explicitly invite us to technically augment and re-present our sexed, raced and gendered selves in relation to others.

Selfies exist in a larger autoethnographic surround; subjectivities are constructed amidst curatorial concerns including food, self-promotion, aesthetics, (eg the all-black-and-white selfies, the organisation of the selfie wall /‘story’). Every selfie-maker is an autoethnographer, in their attention to positionality, subjectivity and cultural assemblage.

Selfie culture contains an implicit cultural critique that goes beyond superficial charges of narcissism. Fitbit culture, cruelty free makeup practices, healthy food selfies, etc all contain within them the ‘of the world/in the world’ commitments of autoethnography (and particularly critical autoethnography and digital autoethnography) which call us to always address self and culture as co-constructed.

This invitation-only symposium draws together interdisciplinary researchers from the emerging field of selfie studies who are working with (and interrogating) selfie subjectivities and the selfie as method.

Dr Crystal Abidin’s participation is supported by a Swinburne Visiting Fellowship.

“Selfie” by Luisen Rodrigo  and “Selfie” by Steve Walker Photography are both licensed under CC by 2.0


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