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

Caring for Cosmologies: Making Living Maps for West Miyarrka

This project aims to develop a new kind of digital mapping to document endangered forms of knowledge along a coastline under threat from climate change. The project expects to draw on unique Yolngu knowledge practices and representational systems - with traditional owners and managers guiding digital media experts, rangers and artists. Expected outcomes include: 1) expanded Indigenous research capacities and digital expertise; and, 2) access to novel resources for a new generation of Indigenous leaders. Benefits include: enhanced intergenerational and intercultural knowledge transmission and negotiation; methods adaptable to other Indigenous contexts; and greater national recognition of Indigenous seeing and caring for country. Funded by the Australian Research Council with CIFAE colleagues Mr Gawura Wanambi, Mr Paul Gurrumuruwuy Wunungmurra, Ms Joy Bulkanhawuy, Professor Michael Christie, Dr Michaela Spencer and Mr Benjamin Ward.

Heart Openings: The Experience and Cultivation Of Love In Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam. 

Scholarship has not responded satisfactorily to the current crisis of interreligious misunderstanding, sectarian strife, and rising fundamentalism. Ethical attempts to respect difference have resulted in reifications and the encouragement of difference. The project specifically focuses on the experience and cultivation of love in religious, spiritual, and contemplative practice; first among Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims in Denmark; secondly in Nepal, Papua New Guinea, and Egypt. Through audiovisual and microphenomenological methods of experiential elicitation, the project will examine in minute detail the synchronic and diachronic structures of concrete experiences of love – including the complex sensory and emotional qualities of such experiences and the micro-acts and micro-events that may be involved as they unfold. Furthermore, through participant observation and life history interviews the project will examine how such experiences of love impact upon and emerge from people's everyday practices, how research participants themselves understand the ways in which such experiences shape their lives, and how different life trajectories may relate to particular experiences. Funded by the European Research Council 2021-2025), Ethics Advisor.

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 - The John Collier Jr Award for Still Photography, honorable mention: Phone & Spear (2021)
  • 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

  • Smithsonian NAtional Museum of NAtual History, Research Associate (2021-2024)
  • Sydney Environment Institute Fellow (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