IJCSPublishing with a print journal seemingly gives me permission and (slender) rationale to announce a publication a second time: ‘Re-locating media production’, a special issue published in the International Journal of Cultural Studies that I have co-edited with Helen Morgan Parmett, is now available in print (in Volume 21, Issue 1), meaning the online version now has proper pagination. I list (again) all the abstracts below, and include links to the journal page at which each article is available (subscription required).

Re-locating media production
Helen Morgan Parmett and Scott Rodgers

It was arguably easier in the past to pin down media production in medium- or content-specific locales, such as the studio, the newsroom or the set. Contemporary processes of media convergence have dramatically opened up the ‘what’ and ‘where’ of media production to include all manner of quotidian practices and ephemeral places. This special issue, however, pushes back against the idea that contemporary landscapes of media production have been flattened. Each of the articles collected here accounts for significant transformations in media practices near to those that we would conventionally associate with media production, yet which are also potentially left behind in the rush to describe, theorize, celebrate and critique trends such as ‘produsage’, ‘prosumption’ and participatory media culture. Taken together, the articles in this special issue provide new insights into the locations and relocations of contemporary media production across new and under-researched liminal and peripheral geographies, and around new and unexpected objects.

From ‘animation’ to encounter: Community radio, sociability and urban life in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Fabien Cante

Drawing upon ethnographic research on community radio in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, this article argues that tracking production practices outside of the studio allows researchers to better capture radio’s entanglements with everyday urban life. This spatial reconsideration mirrors a conceptual move beyond community media labels and normative criteria, towards a privileging of context. To illustrate both points, the article centres around ‘animation,’ the practice of enlivening social situations. Animation is central to community radio in Abidjan, but ‘animateurs’ also practise their trade in a multitude of venues and events around the city. Following animation’s movements between on- and off-air provides an understanding of how community radio is assembled as a porous ‘micro-public’, and insight into the particular kind of sociability that it produces. The article shows that while this sociability is tinged with the quest for status and social capital, it is mostly characterized by indeterminacy, and valued for the unforeseen encounters it can foster.

Emerging film cultures: Spotlight on post-disaster Haiti
Doris Posch

In the past decade, a new generation of filmmakers has committed to establishing a local film market via the film school, Ciné Institute, in Jacmèl, Haiti. Film production in Haiti today, grounded in a virtually non-existent cinema historiography, is particularly challenged by the neocolonial politics following the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Via lowest-budget productions, Haiti’s filmmakers are not only contributing to new modes of translocal media production but are also attempting to create economically viable exhibition networks and subsequent distribution infrastructures on a transglobal scale. This analysis draws on the local prolificacy and global orientation of Haiti’s emerging film cultures, and demonstrates that both aspects are influenced by and intervene in the broader contexts of geo-political debates in global cinema. Finally, this study considers the extent to which Haiti contributes to new configurations of film and media cultures in the Caribbean.

Site-specific television as urban renewal: Or, how Portland became Portlandia
Helen Morgan Parmett

This article addresses the rise of what I call ‘site-specific television’, where the dispersion of television production outside traditional centers results in shooting locations that also serve as the crux of the televisual narrative. I argue that site-specific television constitutes ‘TV renewal’, in which on-location shooting practices are constitutive of urban regeneration efforts that draw on local, alternative, and creative cultures of production to help promote, rebrand, and revitalize marginalized city spaces with, often, gentrifying implications. Taking up Portlandia as a case study of site-specific television, I argue its on-location production practices depend on decentralized and embedded practices of production that align with recent economic and cultural changes in the television industry and in the city.

Digital media reflexivities: The Axel Springer Campus in Berlin
Alexander Gutzmer

This article reads the notion of mediatization through a current example of architectural practice: the Axel Springer Campus in Berlin. Based on current theories of mediatization, it shows how this architectural project for a media firm finds new ways for architecture itself to function as a medium. It argues that architect Rem Koolhaas developed an architectural design that has the capacity to mediate images and interpretations of the productivity of media practitioners, of the relationship between media firm and urban environment, as well as of more general transformations of media work in the digital age.

Digitizing localism: Anticipating, assembling and animating a ‘space’ for UK hyperlocal media production
Scott Rodgers

This article presents an unconventional view of media production, not as the direct production of media content or forms, but the cultivation of spaces for media production taking place elsewhere. I draw on a close analysis of Destination Local, a program of UK charity Nesta, which focused on the implications of location-based technologies for the emergent field of ‘hyperlocal’ media. Although the first round of the program – the focus in this paper – funded 10 experimental projects alongside extensive research, my argument is that Destination Local was less a matter of enabling specific place-based hyperlocal media outlets. Rather, it was an attempt to anticipate, assemble and animate a broader UK hyperlocal media ‘space’, composed of both technical ecologies (e.g. data, devices, platforms, standards) and practical fields (e.g. journalism, software development, local government, community activism). This space, I argue, was anchored to a largely implicit political discourse of localism.

Expanded places: Redefining media and violence in the networked age
Donatella Della Ratta

This article focuses on the relationship between violence and visibility as redefined by the combined action of warfare and networked communications technologies. Drawing on an ethnography of Syrian popular culture conducted at the theme park the Damascene Village, it proposes the concept of ‘expanded places’ to reflect on sites that have been physically violated, while at the same time they have been granted a new online life as a result of the manipulation and redistribution of their images on Web 2.0. The article investigates the dynamic of expansion by relating it to key practices that define internet participatory cultures, such as remixing; and to the theoretical framework of remediation, proposing to repurpose the latter in a networked media context. It discusses expansion in relation to the performance of violence, and reflects on the implications of involving the participatory dimension of Web 2.0 in replicating the latter.


Dr Lorraine Lim: some memories

by Scott Rodgers on September 18, 2017

Last week, Lorraine Lim, a Birkbeck colleague and friend, passed away surrounded by her partner and family in Singapore. I can still hardly believe, or accept, that I’m writing these words. And I’m not sure my blog is where I should be writing them. But over the last few days, as I’ve debated this in my head, I’ve concluded that this is a good place. Maybe it opens up a few more memories – albeit minor, fleeting and mostly work-related – to an indefinite public who knew Lorraine.

The first time I met Lorraine was when she and Sophie Hope joined me in a temporary shared office, on Tavistock Square; soon after, we were also joined by Stamatia Portanova. The four of us spent those few initial months getting to know one another, trying to figure Birkbeck out. Right away, Lorraine left an indelible impression. She was incredibly friendly and cheery. She was positive, decisive, confident and direct. She had ideas and trajectory. I could see even then that she was going to have a big impact on our then very young department.

Soon after, I had the opportunity to work with Lorraine on a project. Along with Sophie Hope, we organised a postgraduate workshop on ‘doing research amongst technologies’. We took the approach you might expect from keen early career academics: we put an awful lot of work into it. It was fun, though from my recollection, Lorraine and I also butted heads, here and there. Our ways of being in the world overlapped in some respects: we were both strong willed. But Lorraine also had a way of just cutting to the chase, of cutting out the bullshit. Something I certainly lack myself at times. The resulting workshop was a success, and it was strongly influenced by Lorraine. It’s worth linking to the workshop website and blog, because it testifies to Lorraine’s insistence that the workshops needed to have a life beyond the face-to-face sessions. She was instrumental in ensuring that the website could be a resource for others, distant and after the fact. This was a general quality that I will always remember about Lorraine: her strong sense that the academy ought to have some utility. Not utility in terms of immediate practical or commercial ends, but responsibility to think about the uses of what we do. More than most, Lorraine recognised that academics work from a privileged position of relative autonomy, and felt we should make something of that.

Lorraine was well known for her research, which sought to understand cultural policies, institutions and work through its myriad contexts, particularly in cities and in East Asia. Those of us who worked with Lorraine, though, also knew a multidimensional and deeply committed colleague. She was committed to the widening participation mission of Birkbeck. Alongside her extensive work on the postgraduate arts management programme, Lorraine spent years developing and defending the Foundation Degree in Arts and Media Management, aimed at students who otherwise would not have an opportunity at higher education. She was committed to students’ futures. Based on a very well-run student workshop, Lorraine developed a superb website aimed at preparing students for work in the cultural and creative industries (which she also late wrote about in The Guardian). She was committed to labour politics. I can remember, like it was yesterday, Lorraine quite rightly giving me a stern talking to on the steps of Gordon Square, when the fact of it being a strike day had passed me by. Suffice to say, I promptly joined the union, and the next time we were on strike, I was there in solidarity with her and others. Above all, however, I remember Lorraine as committed to ensuring that her work life had a social side, most often one involving food and drink. She was often the first to take the initiative in organising departmental drinks, or to lead us on a Szechuan dinner. She was a true Singaporean.

In the past week, my colleagues and I in FMACS (as we call our department) have been exchanging our memories of Lorraine over email, telephone, and in the corridors of Gordon Square. Her passing has underlined the ways in which our small department is like family, one which has lost a most dear sibling. Thankfully, at least one of us – Simone Wesner – was able to travel to Singapore for the funeral, to express to Lorraine’s familiar and friends how important she was to us.

Through social media, the past week has also delivered many new memories of Lorraine. People with whom I’m unacquainted, tagging Lorraine’s name, adding thoughts and images. I feel as if I’m learning about new and other sides of Lorraine, about just how wide her network of friends was, how much she was loved, and the fun things she go up to outside of academia. But it’s the images, arriving like waves, which are most haunting.

Only a few of the images coincide with the time during and around her treatment for cancer; how she looked when she came back to FMACS, so very briefly, for a party we threw to celebrate her return. An affair of sparkling wine, and chocolates, which we’d laid on as a surprise – and in hindsight, hopeful – welcome home. She didn’t drink, she couldn’t, due to the medication she was on at the time. And she had someone to meet that night, so couldn’t stay as long as she’d have liked either. It was the last time I saw her in person. She soon returned to Singapore for further treatment.

Most of the images I see on social media, though, resemble the Lorraine I knew as a colleague and friend. For now, these images conjure up the stubborn unreality of her passing away. Like the rest of my colleagues, I knew Lorraine was unwell, but the London-to-Singapore distance seemed to mean her absence, and the reasons for it, were sometimes experienced more abstractly than they might have otherwise. Now we must come to terms with this sad, and profoundly unfair, loss. Alongside my colleagues, I hope we can find ways to make sure Lorraine’s memory endures. Rest in peace, friend.


Media,_Culture_&_SocietyI have a new journal article published today in Media, Culture and Society, titled ‘Roots and fields: excursions through place, space, and local in hyperlocal media’. I’m really pleased to have something appear in MCS. Before I became more immersed in media and cultural studies, it was the one journal I really looked to as embodying the field a whole – and I still feel it does, even with a broadened awareness of the field. The abstract for the article (which can be accessed at Sage OnlineFirst) is below. The official version requires a subscription, of course. The accepted manuscript version is freely accessible via BIROn, Birkbeck’s open-access repository.

Roots and fields: excursions through place, space, and local in hyperlocal media

Scott Rodgers

In 2012, UK charity Nesta announced Destination Local, a program focused on future developments in ‘hyperlocal media’ based on location-based technologies. The program’s first round funded an experimental portfolio of 10 small projects. In this article, I present vignettes drawn from walking interviews with four of the project leaders, putting these into dialogue with phenomenological and practice-centered media theory, as well as growing interests in the geographies of media. My argument is that practices of so-called hyperlocal media should be understood via a phenomenological duality. On one hand, as activities rooted in place: conducting media work though situated environments. Yet, on the other hand, as inhabitations of field spaces: geographically dispersed social and technical worlds. This analysis suggests we step back in order to consider the conceptualization of place, space, and the local itself in studies of ‘hyperlocal’ as an emergent form of media production.

digital media, field theory, hyperlocal media, journalism, local media, phenomenology, place and space, walking interviews


CFP AAG 2018: Platform Urbanism

August 24, 2017

It’s hard to believe that AAG CFP season is starting already. Susan Moore and I have begun advertising a CFP for the 2018 AAG conference in New Orleans, USA. The set of paper and panel sessions will focus on the theme of ‘Platform Urbanism’, co-sponsored by the AAG’s Digital Geographies Specialty Group, Media and Communication […]

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Infrastructure, platform, locality: A response to Motta and Georgiou (IAMCR slides)

July 14, 2017

Tomorrow I depart London for my first ever visit to South America; specifically, to Cartagena, Colombia, for the 2017 IAMCR conference. I have the honour of being the respondent to Wallis Motta and Myria Georgiou’s ‘Deep mapping communication infrastructure in super diverse London’ which has won the 2016 IAMCR Urban Communication Grant. The paper is […]

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Ordinary Digital Humanities: Video of symposium with Lesley Gourlay, Grace Halden and Tim Markham

June 5, 2017

An edited video is now available for the ‘Ordinary Digital Humanities’ symposium that I organised during Birkbeck Arts Week in mid-May 2017. The event asked what might it mean to think about the digital humanities as ordinary, and focused on the implications of digitisation at the level of everyday academic life – beyond, or perhaps […]

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Re-locating media production: IJCS special issue now online

June 1, 2017

After a slightly confusing spate of digital publishing and then re-publishing, I can finally announce that ‘Re-locating media production’, a special issue in the International Journal of Cultural Studies that I have co-edited with Helen Morgan Parmett, is now available online. I list all the abstracts below, and include links to the OnlineFirst page at […]

Read the full article →

Louise Amoore talk at Birkbeck 7 June 2017: Cloud futures

May 24, 2017

On Wednesday 7 June 2017, Birkbeck Interdisciplinary Research in Media and Culture and the Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology will be co-hosting a talk from Professor Louise Amoore on the subject of ‘Cloud Futures’. The event – details of which are pasted below – is free and open to all, but booking via […]

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Satellite research seminar: ‘openness’ in education

May 16, 2017

Next week I have the pleasure of hosting another very interesting research event – a presentation from my colleague Leo Havemann, a sharp Learning Technologist at Birkbeck. Leo will be speaking about just what we might mean when we invoke the idea of ‘open’ in higher education, and in particular how we tend to fall […]

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Urban change: BIMI-PITT research workshop 10-12 May 2017 (with urban media tour 13 May 2017)

May 3, 2017

Next week sees the second edition of the biennial research workshop organised by Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) and Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. It takes place between Wednesday 10 May to Friday 12 May 2017 – and extends into Saturday 13 May with a version of my well-wrought urban media […]

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