Mirko Schäfer
Disrupting Humanities: The Data Turn and Entrepreneurial Scholarship

Methods Roundtable

Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner
Friction & Reflexivity in Digital Scholarship

Maarten de Rijke

Gerry van Klinken

Mike Kestemont
Workshop: Mining Digitised Texts

Dyah Pitaloka
New Narratives: Digital Story Telling, a space of disrupting the interruptions for the survivors and descendants of 1965 tragedy.

Mirca Madianou
‘Humanitarian Technologies’: myths and realities about social media in disaster recovery

Waruno Mahdi
The Role of Internet in Bringing Down the Soeharto Regime in Indonesia.

Rogier Creemers
Disrupting the State: China’s Internet Plus Agenda and the Reconstruction of the Information Order.

Adam Knight
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Content Control on the Chinese Internet.

Jingchao Peng
Understanding the contextual and ideological values underpinning news pushing services by mainstream Chinese media through social networks.

Bart Barendregt

Tingting Liu
The Productive Discourse of Romance in Contemporary China: an Online Love Story of a Rural-to-urban Migrant Couple.

Linnet Taylor
Big data, new visibilities: how the new data technologies are reshaping connections and divisions in Asia.

Linnet Taylor
Big data, new visibilities: how the new data technologies are reshaping connections and divisions in Asia.

Jack Qiu
Foxconn, Activists, and Digital Abolition.

Concluding Discussion
How relevant is the literature on internet studies for the study of Asian countries?

Jacqueline Hicks
Welcome and Introduction

Marina Svensson
The Networked China Researcher: Challenges and Possibilities in the Social Media Age

Hilde de Weerdt

Danie Stockmann
Towards Area-Smart Data Science: Critical Questions for Working with Big Data from China

Tobias Blanke
Doing Non-Positivist Digital Humanities

Sally Wyatt

Folgert Karsdorp
Twitter Scraping Workshop

Ridho Reinanda

Florian Schneider
Digital Nationalism in China: Who is Disrupting Whom?

Weixian Pan
Under the Dome: Capturing an Environmental and Political Enclosure in Contemporary China

Simon Philpott
This Stillness, This Lack of Incident…the War in West Papua and Social Media.

Asha Rathina Pandi
People’s Power: Social Movements, New Media and Minority Indians in Malaysia.

Dianlin Huang
Social Media and Activism of Grassroots NGOs in China: A case study of Love Save

Acep Muslim
Digital Religion and Everyday Religious Life in Southeast Asia: A case study of One Day One Juz (ODOJ) Community in Indonesia.

Susan Leong
Asian Disruptions of Digital Technologies.

Michael Keane
Digital China: from cultural presence to innovative nation.

Elisa Oreglia

Photo Credits: Fridus Steijlen









Digital Disruption in Asia: Methods and Issues

24-25 May 2016  |  KITLV, Leiden  |  Netherlands


How do digital technologies affect both Asian societies and the methods we use to study them?


With its decentralized network of peer-to-peer data sharing, the internet used to be seen as intrinsically anti-establishment or even apolitical.  But as research on the societal impact of the internet expands around the world, we have gained a more nuanced understanding of how it both supports and undermines the power of political and economic institutions, and shapes cultural practices.


As Asianists, we also encounter the politics of digital technologies as funding agencies promote the use of digital research methods such as text mining and social network analysis.  Usually, the development of these tools occurs in methodology-driven projects labelled as “digital humanities”, at some distance from those who analyse the effect of the digital on societies.


This conference brings together these two strands of the politics of digital technologies to equip Asianists with a more complete 360° view of what is involved in studying the digital.  We seek critical reflective papers and lively presentations which elaborate the politics of digital technologies both on Asian societies and the methods we increasingly use to investigate them.


  • How are internet technologies assimilated and understood in Asia compared to other parts of the world?
  • In what ways does the internet challenge or reinforce established political and economic institutions in Asia?
  • What effect does the everyday use of digital technologies have on the development of language, religion and popular culture in the region?
  • What are the implications of using digital methods for how we undertake and organize our scholarly work?
  • How do organizational and funding modalities for digital methods affect the kind of research we do?


Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Digital research methods
  • Social movement activism
  • Government surveillance
  • Online labour platforms/ crowd-work
  • Corporate ownership of personal data
  • Asian appropriations of digital technologies
  • Social media and online identities


Work can be on anywhere in South, Southeast and East Asia, as long as it considers the ways digital technologies undermine or support existing institutions and practices in Asian societies and/or how we study them.  Proposals from across the disciplinary spectrum are welcome.  The best papers will be published in a special issue of the journal Asiacape: Digital Asia.


If you wish to have your paper considered for presentation, please send your abstract (up to 400 words) with a brief (one page) CV by February 15, 2016 via the conference website (http://www.kitlv.nl/digitalasia).  All proposals will undergo peer review and notifications of acceptance will be sent out by March 1, 2016.  Full draft papers are expected to be delivered by May 1, 2016 for circulation among presenters.


As part of the conference, there will also be an opportunity for participants to attend an afternoon hands-on workshop on how to employ digital methods for research.  Participants can choose an introduction on how to gather, prepare and analyse large quantities of digital text from either historical or online sources.  No coding experience is required. The conference and workshops are free, but places are limited.


If you would like to register for attendance without presenting a paper, please do so by May 10, 2016 via the conference website, stating whether you would like to attend either the historical sources or twitter workshop.


Authors who are interested in contributing their work to the special issue, but are not able to join the conference itself, can contact the special issue editor Jacqueline Hicks ([email protected]) or the journal’s managing editor Florian Schneider ([email protected]).


Any general enquiries can be directed to Jacqueline Hicks ([email protected]).

Studying Digital China’s Networks and Media Objects

Digital technologies are visibly ‘disrupting’ how our societies work (Owen 2015), and this also has profound implications for those of us studying Asia. Digital tools make it possible to assess vast amounts of data, systematically explore their patterns, and visualize the results in compelling new ways….And yet the use of digital tools for research has also attracted criticism.

Florian Schneider



Trailer for Werner Herzog’s New Film about the Internet

An Asianist’s Eye on the Digital

The deeper the internet infiltrates our daily lives, the more interesting it becomes to study. With universities now introducing courses in Internet Studies and Digital Culture, they are effectively defining a new digital ‘place’ that requires a unique set of skills and knowledge to understand it. But if the online environment really is a new place, where does that leave area studies specialists interested in the digital? Does it make our region-specific knowledge redundant? Or is it precisely the careful attention to power and place which defines area studies scholarship that this growing field needs?

Jacqueline Hicks



Internet + culture: rebooting China’s cultural power

Chinese culture is going global, powered by hit TV shows and an ambitious government-led Internet plan.

Michael Keane

24 May


08.30 – 09.00



09.00 – 09.10 Welcome: Jacqueline Hicks
09.10 – 10.00 Keynote: Mirko Schäfer
10.00 – 10.45 Methods Mini-Panel: Marina Svensson & Danie Stockman
10.45 – 11.15 Coffee Break
11.15 – 13.00 Methods Roundtable: Tobias Blanke; Marina Svensson; Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner; Sally Wyatt; Maarten de Rijke; Mirko Schäfer.
13.00 – 14.30 Lunch Break
Lipsius, 227 and 228
14.30 – 17.30 Twitter and Digitised Materials Workshops
25 May
09.15 – 10.30 Keynote: Florian Schneider
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break
Parallel Sessions
11.00 – 12.30 Panel One (Oranjerie) and Panel Two (Tuinkamer)
12.30 – 14.00 Lunch Break
14.00 – 15.30 Panel Three (Tuinkamer) and Panel Four (Oranjerie)
15.30 – 16.00 Coffee Break
16.00 – 17.30 Panel Five (Oranjerie)
17.30 – 18.20 Concluding Discussion (Oranjerie) – The Politics of Digital Technologies: Lessons from Asian Studies
18.20 – 19.30 Drinks

Tobias Blanke is a Reader in Social and Cultural Informatics in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London and director of the European Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH). He has played a leading role on several multi-disciplinary research projects. His interests are social and cultural informatics, dedicated to the critical understanding of the digital transformation of culture and society and the key role of information in it. Tobias has a mixed academic background in philosophy and computer science and works with a research team trying to teach computers to understand expressions of culture and society; a long-term goal which we are still far away from. Recently completed research includes work on open digital methods, social and cultural analytics, virtual research environments, graph databases, semantically enriched and intelligent digital content and the limitations of text analytics for historical corpora.

Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner is a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University of Munich. He received Master’s degrees in Comparative Literature and Science & Technology Studies (STS). In 2015, he finished his PhD at Leiden University (highest honors) with a thesis on the use of digital research tools in the humanities. Drawing on a combination of ethnographic methods and theories from STS, he has focused on the tensions that arise as scholars try to incorporate digital approaches into their established research practices, as well as on the reflexive work that is necessary to reconcile those tensions. At his current institution, the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS), he is working on a project that aims to better understand how changing academic working cultures and newly proactive science policies affect knowledge production in engineering and biotechnology.

Mirca Madianou is Reader in the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London where is also co-directs the Centre for Creative and Social Technologies. Previously she was Newton Trust Lecturer in Sociology and Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge and Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester. She has directed two ESRC grants: Humanitarian Technologies and Migration, ICTS and transnational families which have led to several publications on the social consequences of new communication technologies among marginalised or migrant populations. Her approach is transnational, ethnographic and comparative while her work makes theoretical and substantive contributions to the areas of migration, disaster recovery, humanitarian relief and their intersection with digital technology. She is the author of Mediating the Nation: News, Audiences and the Politics of Identity (2005) and Migration and New Media: Transnational Families and Polymedia (2012 with D. Miller) as well as editor of Ethics of Media (2013 with N. Couldry and A. Pinchevski). Mirca is currently the Vice-Chair of the Philosophy, Theory and Critique division of the International Communication Association (ICA).

Jack Linchuan Qiu is associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he serves as deputy director of the C-Centre (Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research). His publications include World’s Factory in the Information Era (Guangxi Normal University Press, 2013), Working-Class Network Society (MIT Press, 2009), Mobile Communication and Society (co-authored, MIT Press, 2006), some of which have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Portugese, and Korean. He is on the editorial boards of 10 international academic journals, including six indexed in the SSCI, and is Associate Editor for Journal of Communication. He also works with grassroots NGOs and provides consultancy services for international organizations.

Maarten de Rijke is full professor of Information Processing and Internet in the Informatics Institute at the University of Amsterdam.  He leads the Information and Language Processing Systems group, one of the world’s leading academic research groups in information retrieval. During the most recent computer science research assessment exercise, the group achieved maximal scores on all dimensions. His research focus is on intelligent information access, with projects on self-learning search engines, semantic search, and social media analytics.  With an h-index of 55 he has published over 650 papers, published or edited over a dozen books, is editor-in-chief of ACM Transactions on Information Systems, co-editor-in-chief of Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval and of Springer’s Information Retrieval book series, (associate) editor for various journals and book series, and a current and former coordinator of retrieval evaluation tracks at TREC, CLEF and INEX.  He is the director of Amsterdam Data Science and of the University of Amsterdam’s Ad de Jonge Center for Intelligence and Security Studies. He’s a former director of the Intelligent Systems Lab (ISLA) and of the Center for Creation, Content and Technology (CCCT).

Mirko Tobias Schäfer is Assistant Professor for New Media & Digital Culture at the University of Utrecht and director of the Utrecht Data School. With research interests revolving around the socio-political impact of media technology, his publications cover user participation in cultural production, hacking communities and the politics of software design and communication in social media. He is co-editor and co-author of the volume Digital Material. Tracing New Media in Everyday Life and Technology (Amsterdam University Press, 2009) and author of Bastard Culture! How User participation Transforms Cultural Production (Amsterdam University Press 2011).  Mirko was organizer and co-curator of [d]vision – Vienna Festival for Digital Culture.  He is a member of the advisory board of SetUp Utrecht, a curator for the Centre for Humanities-Impakt Festival Fellowship and co-curator of the Utrecht New Media Evening at Impakt. In 2012 and 2013 he was appointed research fellow at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where he is affiliated with the Artistic Technology Research Lab. http://mtschaefer.net/

Florian Schneider is Lecturer for the Politics of Modern China at the Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University.  He is the author of Visual Political Communication in Popular Chinese Television Series, which was awarded the 2014 EastAsiaNet book award. He is managing editor of the academic journalAsiascape: Digital Asia. His research interests include questions of governance, political communication, and public administration in China, as well as international relations in the East-Asian region. A recent project has dealt with staged mass-media events in mainland China, such as the Beijing Olympics, the 60th Anniversary of the PRC, and the Shanghai Expo. Currently, he is conducting a three-year research project titled ‘Digital Nationalism in China’, funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), in which he analyses how Sino-Japanese history is presented and discussed on China’s web.

Nishant Shah is the Co-founder and was the Director – Research (2009- 2014) of the non-profit, autonomous research and policy think tank Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore, India, that works on questions of openness, access to knowledge, digital activism, and inclusion through South-South collaborations. He continues his affiliation as a member of the governing board and advisor for new research projects. He is a Professor at the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media, Leuphana University, Germany, where he teaches courses in Digital Humanities, Computer-Human Interaction, and Information and Communication Technologies for Development. Also at the University, he serves as the Academic Director at The Digital School building new Mentored Online Open Courseware for non-traditional learners. He is an Affiliate with the Digital Cultures Research Lab supervising community based research projects on ‘Digital Citizen Action in the Asia and Latin America’ and ‘Making Methods for Digital Humanities’. As a Knowledge Partner, with the Dutch Development Aid Agency, Hivos, Nishant has initiated and built the Knowledge Programme on ‘Civic Explorations’ that looks at mobilising communities in emerging society towards civic action, intervention, and learning since 2009. He initiates research as well as engages with effective monitoring and evaluation systems and multi-stakeholder knowledge production for research application. His new book ‘Making Change: Towards a vocabulary of digitally mediated practices’ examines the new frameworks of imagining the future of change practices and discourse in the networked societies of the Global South.

Linnet Taylor is a Marie Curie research fellow in the University of Amsterdam’s International Development faculty, with the Governance and Inclusive Development group. Her research focuses on the use of new types of digital data in research and policymaking around issues of development, urban planning and mobility. Previously she was a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute on the project ‘Accessing and Using Big Data to Advance Social Science Knowledge’. Linnet studied a DPhil in International Development at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex where she was also part of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. Her doctoral research focused on the adoption of the internet in West Africa. Before her doctoral work she was a researcher at the Rockefeller Foundation where she developed programmes around economic security and human mobility.

Sally Wyatt is Programme Leader of the eHumanities Group, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and Professor of ‘digital cultures in development’, Maastricht University. She originally studied economics (BA McGill, 1976; MA Sussex, 1979), but later did a PhD in science and technology studies (Maastricht, 1998), which focused on different ways of transmitting data over networks. Her current research interests include digital media in the production of knowledge in the humanities and the social sciences, and the ways in which people incorporate the internet into their practices for finding health information. On the latter, she has a new book (together with Anna Harris & Susan Kelly) called CyberGenetics. Health Genetics and New Media, published this spring by Routledge. In 2015, she co-edited with Delia Dumitrica a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Communication, called ‘digital technologies and social transformations, what role for critical theory?’ She is also the Academic Director of theNetherlands Graduate Research School for Science, Technology and Modern Culture.

Twitter Workshop

The objective of this workshop is to showcase the use of the programming language Python for scraping tweets from Twitter. Twitter data has become an interesting source of data for various disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The large amounts of data, however, pose challenging problems that need to be dealt with automatically. In this workshop participants will learn how to automatically scrape tweets from the Twitter stream and process them for further analysis. The workshop will be fully interaction-based and is an absolute beginner’s course, thus no previous programming or scripting experience is required. Participants will need to bring their own laptop, running a recent version of Windows, Mac OSX or Linux, with the software installed which is needed for this course. Detailed installation instructions will be made available on this website.


Instructions for Twitter Workshop Downloads

For this workshop, there are a couple of installation instructions which you should follow closely (that is: extremely literally!), to make sure that all goes well. These steps involve:
1. Installing Python
Please install the Anaconda distribution of Python, which is a package which comes with most of the functionality etc. which you will need for these workshops. Direct your browser to http://continuum.io/downloads#py35 and download the graphical installer. Double-click the downloaded file and install the Python distribution system-wide. Make sure that you download Python 3.
2. Downloading the workshop materials etc.
Direct your browser to the following webpage: https://github.com/fbkarsdorp/twitter-workshop
from Click on the button which says “Clone or Download”. From the dropdown menu select “Download ZIP”. Unpack the zip-file in the Desktop folder of your computer.
3. Installing a decent, cross-platform text editor. 
We recommend Sublime Text which is downloadable from https://www.sublimetext.com/3
4. Register for Twitter !!with phone number!!
Please create a Twitter account and update your profile to include your phone number. The phone number is required to create our development application during the workshop.

Digital Texts Workshop

The objective of this workshop is to showcase the use of programming language Python for the computational processing of digitised texts. Computational Text Analysis is an increasingly popular research topic across many fields in the Humanities, which typically have an important textual component. In this workshop participants will learn how to computationally preprocess, cluster and visualize a large collection of digitized texts. The workshop will be fully interaction-based and is an absolute beginner’s course, thus no previous programming or scripting experience is required. Participants will need to bring their own laptop, running a recent version of Windows, Mac OSX or Linux, with the software installed which is needed for this course. Detailed installation instructions will be made available on this website.


Workshop Leaders

Mike Kestemont is a research professor in the field of Digital Text Analysis in the department of Literature at the University of Antwerp. He specializes in computational text analysis for the Humanities, in particular stylometry or computational stylistics. He has published on the topic of authorship attribution in various fields, such as Classics or medieval European literature. Mike actively engages in the debate surrounding the Digital Humanities and attempts to merge methods from Artificial Intelligence with traditional scholarship in the Humanities. His website (www.mike-kestemont.org) contains pointers to his recent scholarly activities, including an open access scientific documentary about stylometry and Hildegard of Bingen (vimeo.com/70881172).

Folgert Karsdorp is a PhD candidate at the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he is involved in the Tunes & Tales project. He is affiliated with Radboud University and the eHumanities Group of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). His research interests lie in computational text analysis in the context of ethnology, anthropology, literary theory and cultural evolution. See also www.folgertkarsdorp.nl.

Conference Hashtag: #DigitalAsiaConf
Organising Committee

Bart Barendregt (Leiden University)

Jacqueline Hicks (KITLV)

Florian Schneider (Leiden University)


Jacqueline Hicks ([email protected])

Yayah Siegers ([email protected])


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*Photo used with permission from

the Nam June Paik Estate.