40 attendees from La Trobe University and the wider community, including members of Melbourne’s Pacific Studies Network, attended the Pacific Panel on Digital Technology and Social Media held at Glenn College LT on December 15. The panel event, held by the Institute for Human Security and Social Change, featured four Visiting Research Associates from the University of the South Pacific. Glen Finau, Romitesh Kant, Jason Titifanue and Jope Tarai spoke about the digital tools and platforms driving grassroots activism and advancing social change in the Pacific region.
The four also presented research papers at the event. Glen Finau presented an introduction to the research agenda and an overview of the USP research conducted to date on digital technology and social media; Jason Titifanue presented on Revisiting Bottom-Up Regionalism, with a particular focus on case studies of digital technology use in the Free West Papua campaign, Pacific climate change campaigns and digital feminist activism; Jope Tarai presented on digital politics in Fiji, exploring Fiji’s history of mainstream media censorship and the emergence of alternative media platforms for political debate and discussion, and Romitesh Kant presented on the dark side of digital technologies, particularly issues of cyberbullying, cyber harassment and cyber-shaming, drawing on recent debates about social media regulation.
The researchers have been working with Tait Brimacombe, who chaired the event, over the course of 2016 on a DLP-funded research project exploring Digital Feminism in Fiji. Through this ongoing relationship, the Institute was also pleased to welcome Jope, Jason, Romitesh and Glen on board as Honorary Research Associates. Additionally, the Institute was fortunate to receive funding from La Trobe’s Transforming Human Societies RFA to facilitate their Visiting Fellowship to Melbourne.
The event was a first step in establishing the Pacific Research Community (PaRC), which will bring together academics and students focussed on Pacific studies at La Trobe University for future collaboration. Stay tuned for more information in 2017.