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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) News

ICOG welcomes new PhD candidates

03 November 2022

This month, six new PhD candidates are beginning their research projects at ICOG. It is our pleasure to welcome them to ICOG, and to introduce them to you.

Theresa Atutu

Theresa Atutu

Theresa Atutu is a PhD candidate in Environmental History. She is working on the AFREXTRACT comparative study project on the diversity of cultural and political responses to environmental change in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.

Her BA is in History. During this, she developed a particular interest in contemporary history, and in cultural and political responses to resource extraction. Her dissertation was on a comparison of social, economic, political and environmental legal frameworks in the Soviet Union during the Stalin and Gorbachev era. She used Kazakh identity and livelihood as a case study. This research venture developed her competence and interest in environmental history by examining policies' impact on social, economic and environmental sectors.

Theresa’s MA is in Global Environmental History. This was a multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary programme centred on understanding topics that focused on sustainability, anthropology, historical ecology, political ecology and development studies. She wrote her thesis on an assessment and exploration of oil management in the Niger Delta and the cultural, economic, environmental and political responses to this.

Theresa is passionate about history, sustainability and cultural studies, and would like to continue to research and have conversations in academia regarding these.

Nathalie Fridzema

Nathalie Fridzema

Nathalie Fridzema wrote her Master Thesis on YouTube's algorithmic recommendation system, specifically looking into how it changed in terms of symbolization and materiality during the COVID-19 pandemic. After graduating from the Research Master Arts, Media and Literary Studies, she worked as a research assistant and junior lecturer in the department for Media Studies and Journalism at the University of Groningen. Whilst working together with Prof. Dr. Susan Aasman on a preliminary web project, Nathalie delved into internet provider XS4ALL and personal homepages. These pilot studies formed the foundation for her ICOG proposal.

The objective of the PhD project is to create a cultural history of web practices before web 2.0, specifically in the Netherlands between 1994 and 2004. This period of the preliminary web – characterized by idealistic initiatives adhering to utopian ideals like participatory democracy, freedom, and accessibility – is often overshadowed by the swift development of platforms and social media. In this project, Nathalie will take a critical look into this influential period, focussing on the everyday user and website maker. The project adheres to an interdisciplinary approach using quantitative and qualitative methods whilst also borrowing elements from the fields of web anthropology, -archaeology, and -archiving. Her supervisors are Prof. Dr Susan Aasman, Dr Rik Smit, and Dr Tom Slootweg (University of Groningen), as well as external supervisor Prof. Dr Clemens Apprich (University of Applied Arts in Vienna).

Orfeas-Anastasios Koidis

Orfeas-Anastasios Koidis

Orfeas-Anastasios Koidis has for a long time been infatuated with the concept of law as well as power politics and the complex dynamic of the international system. This passion guided him in obtaining his Master’s in International Trade and Investment Law at the University of Amsterdam. Before this, he studied International Relations at Panteion University of Athens where his studies revolved around International Law, International Economics, and Negotiation.

So far his research has been involved with how the concept of sustainable development clashes with the traditional structure of international organizations and law interpretation. Orfeas is constantly drawn from the contemporary and the unknown, while innovation and creativity are attributes that he wants to define his work. His research project at ICOG evinces exactly this, as it explores the impact that cryptocurrencies have on the ability of states and institutions to impose international economic sanctions. Specifically, Orfeas is interested in assessing the ability of states to utilize cryptocurrencies as an avenue for sanctions evasion and in exploring the impact of the absence of a universal regulation on cryptocurrencies on the international system. This research project sits at the crossroads of International Relations and law. The interdisciplinarity of the project gives rise to questions of both legal nature, such as the impact of cryptocurrencies on fundamental rights and jurisdiction as well as of socio-political nature pertaining to more complex concepts such as the utilization of cryptocurrencies as a weapon against western supremacy and the dynamic balance of the international system of states.

Marije Miedema

Marije Miedema

Marije Miedema graduated from the Research Master Arts, Media and Literary Studies in 2021 and worked as a Seminar Instructor at the Centre for Media and Journalism Studies. She also obtained a Fine Arts degree from Academy Minerva specializing in site-specific art installations. Her time at CMJS and especially the collaboration with Prof. Dr Susan Aasman sparked the idea to develop a PhD project connected to the recently created Aletta Jacobs Chair of Digital Humanities.

Marije will study and co-create the future of our personal digital past as an interdisciplinary PhD candidate at the Centre for Digital Humanities (Faculty of Arts) and the Knowledge Infrastructures Department (Campus Fryslân) and is supervised by Prof. Dr Susan Aasman, Prof. Dr Anne Beaulieu, and Dr Sabrina Sauer. The theoretical and methodological framework of her project is positioned between Science and Technology Studies and Digital Humanities. It takes a practice-based socio-technological approach, mapping the constraints and affordances of personal digital archiving practices.

Personal digital material is currently mostly preserved through commercially driven technologies. This is worrying, for although it may seem that these privately-owned cloud services are spaces where our precious pictures will exist forever, long-term sustainable archiving practices are not these service providers’ primary concern. This research project explores an alternative approach to sustainable everyday archival data management; establishing a public-private-civic collaboration to co-create a dynamic and commonly governed open-source infrastructure, securing our personal memories.

Tholithemba Ndaba

Tholithemba Ndaba

Tholithemba Lorenzo Ndaba is a PhD candidate in the AFREXTRACT project, specializing in Environmental Histories of Resource Extraction in Johannesburg. He is from Meadowlands, one of the townships in Soweto, in Johannesburg, South Africa. There, he is surrounded by gold mine dumps, and growing up, he used to confuse these dumps to mountains, until a few years ago he read a newspaper article, which suggested otherwise. It is through this discovery that he wanted to know more about these mine dumps and the effects they have on human beings that reside next to them.

AFREXTRACT will allow him the opportunity to investigate these gold mine issues extensively. Working in the AFREXTRACT under the guidance of Dr Iva PeŇ°a, he will be analyzing and explaining the diversity of cultural and political responses to environmental change caused by gold mining in Johannesburg between the periods of 1950 to 2020. By being a part of this project, he hopes that he can help share the stories of those people who are staying next to gold mine communities in Johannesburg, in a just manner. He wants the reader’s minds to travel through time, and with the aid of the music/poetry/ novels that will be used in the study, he wants to enrich their understanding on the issues of environmental extractions in Johannesburg.

Maud Rebergen

Maud Rebergen

After obtaining her bachelor's degree in Media Studies and her (research) master's degree in Arts, Media and Literary Studies, Maud Rebergen is taking a new step in her academic career as a PhD candidate at ICOG.

Her work as a junior researcher at the Centre for Media and Journalism Studies and the Digital Inclusion Lab at the University of Groningen, where she did research on digital literacy amongst citizens and entrepreneurs in (Eastern) Groningen, laid the foundation for the hypothesis she formulates in her PhD research, namely that digital exclusion leads to social exclusion.

Based on her concept of ‘marginalizing machines’, (digital) technologies that relegate individuals or groups to the margins of society, Maud aims to examine how increased use of digital technologies by the Dutch government may lead to social marginalization of those who find themselves unable to use these technologies. Throughout her work, she denounces the meaning of democracies when a significant subset of the people is sidelined by its government.

Last modified:03 November 2022 11.25 a.m.

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