Aarhus University Seal

Research workshop on beauty / wellness / work / wellbeing

Cultural Transformations invite all to presentations and discussions of two research projects: Jennifer Whitney: Glow: Exploring the Discourse of Beauty and Wellness and Nadia Hakim-Fernández: Emergent forms of work: knowledge workers, mobile ICTs, and subjective well-being.

Info about event


Tuesday 15 May 2018,  at 10:00 - 12:00


10.00: We meet for coffee and bread (rundstykker)

10.15: Jennifer Whitney: Glow: Exploring the Discourse of Beauty and Wellness

11.00: Nadia Hakim-Fernández: Emergent forms of work: knowledge workers, mobile ICTs, and subjective well-being

11.45: Sum up


Jennifer Whitney and Nadia Hakim-Fernández are both in Aarhus to attend ARTS’ workshop for Marie Curie postdoc applicants and will present the research projects they plan to carry out in the context of Cultural Transformations (when/if they get the grant).

All are welcome – but in order to provide enough coffee and rundstykker, please sign up for the workshop (aekbe@cc.au.dk).


Short overviews of the projects:

Glow: Exploring the Discourse of Beauty and Wellness
Jennifer Whitney

This research project seeks to explore the current cultural landscape of wellness from an intersectional and interdisciplinary feminist purview. The research will be further informed by an engagement with biopolitics and neoliberalism. Through the textual analysis of aesthetic and popular culture examples—from advertising, art, and fashion, to narrative and social media—the project’s aim is to identify how and why a discrete discourse of wellness has grown out of ideologies of (mental) health and beauty, and the conflation of the two. The emphasis of this project will be on the cultural politics, production, and circulation of wellness as both a feminised and feminist issue—and the roles of care and labour, commodification and consumption, and industry and entrepreneurship therein. This project’s focus is on contemporary examples, however, its objective is to identify, trace, and analyse a cultural legacy as well, arguing that there is a precedent for such a discursive commingling located within the Western philosophical tradition. Sample questions include:

  • How might the rhetoric of ‘glow’ — a key signifier of twenty-first century wellness — work to perpetuate Enlightenment ideals of white subjectivity (and supremacy)?
  • Does the nineteenth century spiritualism movement play a role in creating a modern audience for tropes of new age healing (that promise holistic betterment)?
  • What might the eugenics movement of the early-twentieth century (and its relationship to beauty pageants and hygiene) reveal about present-day anxieties around wellness, and its privileged containment? 

The output objectives of this project include a monograph and/or academic journal publications and public outreach and engagement initiatives, which will involve such creative and participatory methods as festival events, podcasts, workshops, and/or digital storytelling. These methods will, in turn, be filtered back into the research project for analysis.


Emergent forms of work: knowledge workers, mobile ICTs, and subjective well-being.
Nadia Hakim-Fernández

This project deals with the relation between mobility, digital technologies (laptop PCs, smartphones and softwares, platforms and apps), and well-being in the context of knowledge work.

Digital technologies have changed the way we work, the reach and speed of connections, and they contribute to how boundaries between private and public, paid and unpaid work, production and consumption are redrawn.  Also, labour within organisations has become complex as labour especially in creative and knowledge-based activities are not performed in physically self-contained organisations but in the connection between people, projects, and different workplaces. On the other hand, self-employment, portfolio work and collaborative work are atypical forms of work that are becoming the model for flexible and innovative, attractive labour markets. These entail not working for a single employer, short-term contracts -both formal or informal-, among other characteristics. The characteristics of knowledge and creative work have both positive and negative effects. This project seeks to place the human dimension in the still emergent ways of organising flexible work and the workplace, including online and offline technologies and infrastructures, and to bring a balance between the positive and negative aspects of flexibility and flow.  Therefore, the main objective for this project is to create solutions that meet both the needs of knowledge workers and organisations who wish to embrace the transformations mentioned.

Specific objectives might include:

- To analyse the strategies that these workers use to increase the positive aspects (creativity, collaboration, life-long learning) and balance the negative aspects of their jobs (excessive blurring of the private and the public, instability and precariousness), and study their potential to be incorporated as part of organisational and technological designs in other contexts within universities and beyond.

- To analyse the strategies of organisations that explicitly acknowledge and embrace the flexible ways of working of ICT-based work and seek ways to improve them and design a model that can be extended to other contexts.

- To suggest technological and organisational solutions to enhance the positive aspects of collaborative, project-based work in organisations open to innovation. To suggest a design for technologies that enable feelings of stability, visibility and belonging.

To be able to understand mobile practices, (work)places and flow, I will focus on networks of knowledge workers and workplaces. This project will use qualitative and quantitative methods of research. Qualitative methods and namely an ethnography will guide the project as it is important to gain thick data from these workers, with the support of quantitative methods, namely network analysis, to contextualise the findings from the ethnography -a concurrent embedded strategy-. The qualitative part consists of a multi-sited ethnography that started 2 years ago with an ongoing auto-ethnography.