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CT seminar: "Media Nearby Death"

2019.05.31 | Yasmin Marie Jensen

Date Thu 20 Jun
Time 12:00 14:45
Location Nobel, building 1485, room 316


12.00 Welcome 

12.05-12.35 Bjorn Nansen, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne: 

‘Death by Twitter’: Understanding False Death Announcements on Social Media.
In this paper, I analyse false death announcements of public figures on Twitter and public responses to them. These false deaths are classified according to overarching types: accidental; misreported; misunderstood; hacked; and hoaxed. Patterns of user responses are also identified. These cycle through personal reactions from sharing the news, to grief, to uncertainty and disbelief; whilst more critical and cultural responses to such death announcements emerge in relation to the quality of digital news or the cultures of social media.

Bjorn Nansen is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at the University of Melbourne, and a member of the DeathTech Research Network. His research focuses on emerging and marginal forms of digital media use in everyday life, with current research projects explore children’s mobile media and digital play practices, the digitisation of death and memorialising, and the technological mediation of sleep spaces and practices. He is a co-author of Death and Digital Media (Routledge, 2018). 

12.35-13.05 Carsten Stage, Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University

Young cancer patients and social media as temporal technologies

Based on a recent study among young cancer patients in Denmark, this paper investigates young cancer patients’ general use of social media and their experience of the choices and dilemmas involved in using social media in relation to moments of existential crisis (Lagerkvist 2017; Andersson 2017). Based on a survey with 200 participants and 25 interviews with young cancer patients (age 15-29) the paper shows that more than one third of young cancer patients use social media “more” or “significantly more” after their diagnosis and that a majority has shared information about cancer on their profile and followed other patients’ social media profiles. The paper also argues that social media are engaged with by the patients for a variety of reasons (e.g. to feel part of a patient community, due to the therapeutic effects of communication, and to raise public awareness of cancer), but also that social media affect the temporal experience of living a life with cancer in multiple and often overlapping ways: E.g. by helping overcome waiting time or uphold everyday rhythms, by making the patients feel trapped in the past as the life of their network is experienced as “moving on”, by restoring a sense of a liveable future, or by saving time through networked coordination (Wajcman 2015; Baraitser 2017; Christensen & Sandvik 2013).

Carsten Stage (norcs@cc.au.dk) is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark. Recent publications include the monographs The Language of Illness and Death on Social Media (co-authored with Hougaard, Emerald, 2018), Networked Cancer. Affect, Narrative and Measurement (Palgrave, 2017) and Global Media, Biopolitics and Affect. Politicising Bodily Vulnerability (co-authored with Knudsen, Routledge, 2015) and the edited collection Affective Methodologies. Developing Cultural Research Strategies for the Study of Affect (co-edited with Knudsen, Palgrave, 2015).

13.05-13.20 Break


13.20-13.50 Sarah Schorr, visual artist, ph.d. in Media Studies from Aarhus University.

Visualizing Photography and Impermanence as Waves: Two Artworks. 
As an artist, my poet father was my first artistic mentor. After his death, I made two artworks: Fluid Boundaries (2018-present) and Saving Screens: Temporary Tattoos and Other Methods (2019) that grapple with his death from different angles. Through presenting these two artworks, I visualize the changing medium of photography in waves and reflect on photographic practice as a sense making method for understanding impermanence. 


13.50-14.20 Dorthe Refslund Christensen, Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University

Inventing rituals and studying them: an autoethnographic take on the production and sharing of grief-related rituals
Ritualisations are a very common way of dealing with loss and grief. Even though the academic study of loss- and grief-related practices often use the concept of ritualizations or rituals in the analyses of specific empirical practices, a more profound theoretical and empirical study of how ritualizations are conceptualized; produced, carried out and socially negotiated is missing. Through more than ten years of research – together with my partner and husband Kjetil Sandvik, we studied and wrote on bereaved parents’ griefwork after the loss of stillborn babies, including their use of rituals (see e.g. Christensen & Sandvik 2013; 2014; 2016; 2018; in press). After Sandvik’s sudden death in 2018, I have found myself, collegue and widow, inventing, keeping and maintaining ritualisations. And I have started to work autoethnographical to study these ritualisations more systematically in an attempt to understand: How are rituals produced? Why these specific rituals? What are the intricate relations between the life that was and how it is ritualized? What are the social and aesthetic choices and priorities and why? I have started out by exploring how the ethnographer becomes auto-ethnographer in the study of rituals and analyses a number of examples of practices with the ambition of coming up with some preliminary reflections.

Dorthe Refslund Christensen is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture, Aarhus University. Since 2008, together with my research partner Kjetil Sandvik, University of Copenhagen, I have analyzed parents’ bereavement practices after loosing a baby, prior to, during or shortly after birth. Our focal points are: which ritualizations, media and materialities do parents use in their grief practices and, not the least, in the continued performance of parenthood in everyday life. The results have been presented in a large number of articles and papers. I am editor in chief of two international bookseries, Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origins of Time (Routledge; with prof. Rane Willerslev) and Sharing Death Online (Emerald Publishing); co-founder of the international research network Death Online Research Network and leader of the research unit Cultures and Practices of Death and Dying, Aarhus Univertsity.


14.20-14.45 Round up discussion

Kulturelle Transformationer