Jennifer Deger

BA, MA (Prelim.), MA, PhD

Professor of Digital Humanities

Jennifer Deger works in the intersections of art, anthropology and environmental studies. Her research is concerned with the ways that digital media transform the ways we see, know—and care about—more-than-human worlds.

Trained in anthropology and communications, Jennifer brings an innovative approach to social research as a filmmaker, curator and writer. She has held a number of fellowships including an ARC Future Fellowship and visiting positions at the Center for Culture and Media at New York University and the Eye & Mind Lab at Aarhus University, Denmark. Most recently she co-curated Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene, a custom designed website that brings together more than 100 scientists, artists, humanists and activists to explore the “feral ecologies” that arise when nonhuman entities get tangled up with industrial and imperial infrastructure projects. In 2019 Jennifer served as President of the Australian Anthropological Society.

As a founding member of the Arnhem Land-based arts collective, Miyarrka Media, Jennifer joins CDU with a commitment to furthering the potential of transdisciplinary and co-creative scholarship with her Yolŋu research partners. Their current ARC project sets out to activate a Yolŋu digital art of renewal for threatened coastlines and beaches.

Research Interests

  • Art and visual culture in the Anthropocene
  • The blue humanities
  • Yolŋu Sea Country
  • Co-creative and non-traditional research methods
  • Experimental film and ethnography
  • Digital life
  • More-than-human worlds

Current Research Projects

Raŋipuy: a Yolŋu digital art of renewal The Yolŋu word raŋipuy means coming from the beach. This collaboration with Yolŋu researchers seeks to enrich Australia's understanding of the beach as a critical zone of Indigenous history, identity, and environmental knowledge. Concerned that they face a devastating tipping point, participants seek to use co-creative methods to document endangered songs, stories, and beach environments. New knowledge will be produced about Indigenous observations of - and responses to - environmental threat. Outputs will include a website co-designed by ritual and digital experts. Funded by the Australian Research Council with PIs Paul Wunungmurra and Yangipuy Wanambi (2021-224).

AAS Curatorium Curatorium has been established as an initiative of the Australian Anthropological Society to support the flourishing of media/arts research in Australian anthropology. It is envisaged as a shared experiment in collegiality and creativity, spearheaded at the outset by an intergenerational collective of anthropological makers, Jennifer Deger, Lisa Stefanoff, Victoria Baskin Coffey and Sebastian Lowe. In forming Curatorium we seek to hold open a new collective space for working towards new forms of anthropological research, training, collaboration, and new forms of ethnography for a variety of audiences, both with and beyond our discipline.

Supervision

  • Sebastian Lowe (JCU) Sebastian’s research project, Playing with a Crumbling World, is a cross-cultural exploration of taonga puoro (traditional Māori instuments) along the Whanganui River. Playing to the environment alongside tangata whenua (people born of the land) in Whanganui opens spaces to reimagine and reconfigure our relationships to the world. Through playing together and sharing breath, the project explores understandings of the relationships between humans, non-humans and their environment. Working in collaboration with his colleagues and local communities, Sebastian’s work entangles histories and cultures to give rise to new ideas about how we might live in a crumbling world. 
  • Victoria Baskin Coffey (JCU) is a visual anthropologist with an enduring interest in the ways that images make the world. She is currently completing a PhD looking at the digital-visual image practices amongst transgender, gender non-binary & gender variant communities of India.
  • Alicia Wheatley (JCU) studies an experiment-in-practice known as ‘regenerative design’ which attempts to create sustainable conditions in the context of ecological and civilisational crisis. Using ethnographic and multimodal research methods, the aim is to document and analyse the ways that regenerative design works to transform 'a mindset and practice of extraction to one of regeneration'. More broadly, this project will critically contribute to the emerging literature in anthropology on designing sustainable futures. 
  • Bard Aaberge’s PhD research (JCU) investigates the Ancestral influence in the dreams of Kuku Yalanji elder Roy Gibson and the role such dreams play in shaping traditional knowledge and Dreaming stories. Temporal aspects of Dreamtime stories are explored via the dreamer’s avowed contemporaneity with Ancestors and temporally distant events.
  • Fiona Wirrer-George (JCU) utilizes autoethnographic reflection and multimodal live performance. Her research demonstrates a form of Voice depicting the on-going challenges and intergenerational responsibilities of contemporary life for a Wik and Wikway researcher navigating academia. The resulting Arnya Lecture gives form to a new genre of First Nation Voice.

Recent completions

Sounding the reef: comparative acoustemologies of underwater noise pollution / Pejling af revet: komparativ akustemologi af undersøisk støjforurening. 2021 Dean’s Award for Higher Degree by Research Excellence (2020, PhD, Primary Advisor)

Wayfaring: place and painting in the tropical far north (2018, PhD, Secondary Advisor)

Awards

  • 2021 - Gold Medal, Best Adult Non-Fiction Informational E-Book for Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene,  Independent Publisher Book Awards
  • 2020 - Gregory Bateson Book Prize, Society for Cultural Anthropology for Phone & Spear: A Yuta Anthropology.
  • 2020 - Feral Atlas Collective ranked 15 on ArtReview’s Power100 list of artworld influencers
  • 2020 - Best Artist-led Publication Prize 2020 for Phone & Spear, Art Association of Australian and New Zealand
  • 2020 - Sydney Environment Institute Fellowship (postponed to 2021)
  • 2019 - Commendation, Advisor of the Year, James Cook University
  • 2017 - Visiting Filmmaker Taiwan International Ethnographic Film Festival
  • 2017/18 - Visiting Professor, AURA (Aarhus University Research on the Anthropocene)
  • 2016 - Visiting Professor in Visual Anthropology, Eye and Mind Lab, Aarhus University
  • 2015 - Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival Best Short Film Award for Ringtone
  • 2015 - Commendation, Material Culture category Royal Anthropological Institute Film Festival for Ringtone
  • 2015 - Flaherty Professional Development Fellow, Flaherty Seminar NY
  • 2015 - CHASS Australia Prize Honourable Mention for Miyarrka Media’s exhibition Gapuwiyak Calling
  • 2012 - Margaret Mead Filmmakers Prize, Special Commendation for Manapanmirr, in Christmas Spirit
  • 2011 - Visiting Fellow New York University, Centre for Religion and Media
  • 2005 - Shimmering Screens shortlisted for Stanner Prize, AIATSIS
  • 2004 - Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for PhD Thesis of Exceptional Merit

Memberships & Awards

  • Sydney Environment Institute Fellowship (2020-21)
  • President Australian Anthropological Society (2019)
  • ARC Future Fellow (2012-16)
  • ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow (2008-11)
  • Macquarie University Research Fellow (2005-8)  
  • Member, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
Jennifer Deger

Contacts

T: +61 8 8946 7365
E: Jennifer.deger@cdu.edu.au

Darwin, NT

CDU Research Webportal