I research digital technologies, fiction and zines using ethnographic and creative qualitative methods. Across these projects, I focus on on cultural meaning, aesthetics, DIY practices and storytelling.
Digital Platforms and Technologies
Living with Personal Data
“Living with Personal Data: Australians’ Understandings and Practices” (DP190100959) takes a sociological approach to exploring how Australians in various social groups make sense of and ‘live with’ their personal digital data – the digitised information generated when they go online, use mobile devices and apps, smart home technologies or move around in public spaces embedded with digital sensors. Led by Prof Deborah Lupton (UNSW) and Prof Mike Michael (Exeter), this project uses innovative methods including virtual ethnographic home visits, mapping and speculative/creative writing prompts to explore people’s understandings of and engagements with their personal data and data futures.
Queering the Map
Focusing on cartographic archiving and participatory crowdsourcing, the “Mapping Queer Histories, Designing Queer Community: A sociological study of Queering the Map” project explores peoples’ experiences with Queering the Map, a micro-storytelling map-based website. QTM is a platform where individuals anonymously geolocate their queer experiences, memories and histories on an online global map. Working with Dr Emma Kirby, Dr Brady Robards, Dr Brendan Churchill and QTM founder Lucas LaRochelle, this project uses innovative online video interviews and thematic analysis of QTM contributions to analyse the ways people make (queer) sense and meaning with the site.
Fiction in/as Research
This program explores the mutually generative relationship between creative writing and sociology. Taking a critical approach to the sociological imagination and creative approaches to public engagement/research translation, key outputs of this work include the forthcoming special issue of Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal of which Ash is an invited co-editor collaborating with Dr Jessica Gullion, and Ash’s sociological fiction novel Into the Sea (Brill, 2020) and research articles in Cultural Sociology (2016) and Sociological Research Online (2020).
Short Story Series: Fiction @ The Sociological Review
Ash is the invited inaugural Fiction Editor for The Sociological Review. TSR seeks high quality fiction that is considered, reflective and attuned to sociological sensitivities, and is sociological in style, scope and sensibility – work that imaginatively extends sociology’s study of society into fiction. TSR is seeking submissions of short stories that critically and creatively explore the social as well as the politics and consequences of sociology itself for publication on their online platform.
Taking a cultural sociological approach to zines (small, independent creative publications), this project with Prof Andy Bennett explores the meaning, materiality and reading cultures of contemporary zines. With an initial Australian case study involving qualitative interviews and a thematic analysis of a zine collection, this project investigates the salience of the materiality of the zine, as an DIY, anti-mainstream and anti-profit publication, considering the contemporary print and digital publishing landscape.
Ash regularly leads in-person and online zine workshops for scholarly and public audiences. Most recently this includes invited workshops at the Just Data Lab, Princeton University, at the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University.
So Fi Zine
Ash is the creator and editor of So Fi Zine (ISSN 2209-3028), a sociological fiction zine for people who want to write creatively and make art based on their studies and research. Standing against the exclusive practices of academic publishing, the zine is free to read online and also offered in a DIY print format. The zine has contributions from writers and artists around the world, including invited pieces by Patricia Leavy, Howard Becker, Les Back, Nirmal Puwar, Raewyn Connell, Michael Burawoy, and Deborah Lupton. Editions of So Fi Zine have featured at the London Radical Bookfair, the National Young Writers Festival Zine Fair, Other Worlds Zine Fair, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Zine Fair, Sydney.
Feminist Arts/Research Methods Series
Affect, Knowledge and Embodiment is an ongoing workshop and zine project exploring contemporary developments in critical feminist arts/research methods. With Dr Laura Rodriguez Castro and Samantha Trayhurn, this series explores ways of practically extending critical and feminist social research with art — specifically with participatory visual methods, sociological fiction, found poetry, collage and zine making. These arts practices are valuable for opening up how we critically explore, analyse, collaborate on, and share experiences and understandings of the social world.