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Medea Talks | Existential Media Studies

October 7, 2019 @ 15:1517:00

Amanda Lagerkvist

Medea Talks on October 7 with Amanda Lagerkvist, researcher in existential media studies and associate professor at Uppsala University.

The full title of the talk is Existential media studies: Towards ‘co-existers’ in shared terrains of digital-human vulnerability and automation.

See Amanda Lagerkvist’s presentation in the video player embedded below (or on YouTube)

Place: K3 Open Space on floor 5, Niagara, Malmö University

Free of charge, but please sign up!

Gramophone music starts at 15:00 and the lecture at 15:15.

ABSTRACT | In this Medea Talk I will introduce key contours of the emergent field of existential media studies (see e.g. Lagerkvist 2016, 2017, 2019, Ess 2019). I will be moving through three steps.

I will discuss, first, how existential media studies returns to existential philosophy to bring it to bear on our contemporary technologized culture and addresses questions about digital-human vulnerability. I will also show how the existentialist universe of thought and some of its key concepts may be brought into conversation with both critical data studies and more posthumanist endeavors such as elemental media philosophy, co-existentialism and broader debates on contingency in feminist philosophy and the new materialism. It will be argued that existential media studies both remedies the existential deficit in media studies and furthers our understanding of (digital) media, with examples from the field of death online.

By pushing beyond the figure of the ’media user’ (and by reinventing ‘the Human’ after posthumanism) I will posit, second, the ‘co-exister’ as the key subject of media studies – a vulnerable, relational, responsible, stumbling, hurting, mortal, embodied, communicative yet silent, self-aware yet clueless, singular yet plural, being – who navigates the limit-situations of life (Jaspers 1932) in the digital age: the existential terrains of connectivity and increased automation.

I will also discuss, third, my new project that will take existential media studies in new and urgent directions, by addressing the pivotal and ever-growing role of biometrics – the use of measurement and statistical analysis of people’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics via AI – within the lifeworld.

Existential media studies, it will be argued in summation, is a philosophically motivated and empirically grounded approach with a normative aspiration to promote an inclusive and open future of techno-existential, ethical and ecological sustainability and anticipation, beyond the prospects and limits of the much heralded “next AI Century’.

The discussant in this Medea Talk is Maria Hellström Reimer, Professor of Design Theory at the School of Arts and Communication, Malmö University.

Amanda Lagerkvist is a media phenomenologist, an associate professor in media and communication studies, and a research fellow in the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University. Lagerkvist is principal investigator of the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence.

As Wallenberg Academy Fellow (2014–2018) she founded the emergent field of existential media studies. She is currently working on a two-year project financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation which focuses the broader merits of existential philosophy for media studies in the context of the increasing digitalization of death and automation of the lifeworld. In another new project starting in 2020 she will be studying biometric AI and voice and face recognition technologies.

Her monograph Existential Media is contracted with Oxford University Press, and focuses on Karl Jaspers’ concept of the limit-situation to address digital-human vulnerabilities and the co-existentialist imperatives of a virtue ethics of care and responsibility before the technologies we embrace and live with.

She chairs the interdisciplinary research network DIGMEX (see PDF:s ”Digital Existence: Memory, Meaning Vulnerability” and ”Digital Existence II: Precarious Media Life”) and is the editor of Digital Existence: Ontology, Ethics and Transcendence in Digital Culture (Routledge, 2019) with a foreword by John D. Peters.


October 7, 2019
15:15 – 17:00