Faculty Colloquium Series: Cara Wallis

“Social Media and Marginalized Young Creatives in Beijing”

Tuesday, 19 September 2017, 4-5 p.m.
Glasscock Center Library, 311 Glasscock Building
The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu.

Cara Wallis | Associate Professor, Department of Communication, 2017-18 Glasscock Internal Faculty Fellow, Texas A&M University

Dr. Wallis studies the mutually constitutive nature of new media technologies, modes of power, and the intersections of multiple axes of identity, including gender, class, and place (urban/rural). She is interested in how uses and understandings of technology both reproduce inequitable power relations and open up spaces for individual and collective agency and thus, social change.
She primarily conducts research in China but has also studied such processes in the United States.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper explores how a group of marginalized young creatives in Beijing, who are not necessarily part of the established culture industries, pursue their creative endeavors, which they frame in terms of personal aesthetics, and how social media use is intricately connected to these pursuits. Dr. Wallis pays particular attention to the way that social media have become a conduit for news modes of desiring in contemporary China (Rofel, 2007) and for the imagination as a form of work and constructing the self (Appadurai, 1990). To do so, she focuses on how aesthetics is connected to three themes: cultivating knowledge; forms of taste, distinction, and hierarchy; and as an ethical imperative. This paper argues that understanding these young creatives sheds light on how individual transformations are constitutive of social transformations in China and that social media are a key factor in both processes.

The Faculty Colloquium offers faculty an opportunity to discuss a work-in-progress with colleagues from different disciplines. By long-standing practice, colloquium presenters provide a draft of their current research, which is made available to members of the Glasscock Center listserv. Each colloquium begins with the presenter’s short (10-15 minute) exposition of the project, after which the floor is open for comments and queries. The format is by design informal, conversational, and interdisciplinary.

The Glasscock Center extends a warm invitation to faculty and students to join in a discussion of Professor Cara Wallis’s work-in-progress. The paper is available to members of the Center’s listserv, or by contacting the Glasscock Center by phone at (979) 845-8328 or by e-mail at glasscock@tamu.edu. To join the Center’s listserv and receive regular notices of colloquia and other events, please register here.