Dr Angharad Closs Stephens, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geography, Swansea University, will be travelling to Melbourne, Australia in February as a visiting fellow at the Emerging Technologies Research Laboratory at Monash University. The visit forms part of her Leverhulme Research Fellowship, studying the unfolding role of nationalism in global politics. Closs Stephens will be learning from global experts at Monash University about how digital technologies, especially social media, form a central part of the current political landscape and the rise in ‘populism’.

Angharad will be working with Director of the Emerging Technologies Research Lab, Professor Sarah Pink, a design anthropologist who holds guest professorships at Halmstad University, Sweden and Loughborough University, UK. The Emerging Technologies Research lab spans Monash University’s Department for Art, Design and Architecture and the Faculty of Information Technology. Angharad will also be working closely with Dr Shanti Sumartojo, Associate Professor of Design at Monash University, and a leading expert in the study of how digital technologies are intertwined in the practices of everyday life, especially ways of being together.

Sumartojo and Closs Stephens have also been working together on a project about how terrorist attacks in European cities are increasingly known and remembered through social media, and that this has political implications. For example, their study, funded by CHERISH-DE,  Swansea University’s Cherish Digital Economy Centre, of the digital commemoration of the Manchester Arena bombing on its one-year anniversary, examined how the ways we understand, engage and respond to terrorist attacks are changing with digital technologies. That project was carried out by Dr Closs Stephen (principal investigator) with Dr Shanti Sumartojo, Dr Martin Coward (Politics, Manchester University) and Dr Samuel Merrill (Centre for Digital Social Research, Umea University).

Dr Closs Stephens is especially interested in the role of moods, affect and emotion as part of the global politics of nationalism. Responses to terrorist attacks, along with refugee crises and political events such as ‘Brexit’ all form moments when we see a heightening of nationalist rhetoric, which is why it is important to study them. However, these are also moments when people develop alternative and critical expressions of togetherness, which is what Closs Stephens’ Leverhulme funded study identifies.

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit www.leverhulme.ac.uk