Acclaimed anthropologist and filmmaker Professor Jennifer Deger has recently joined Charles Darwin University (CDU) as Professor of Digital Humanities at the Northern Institute.
Working in the intersection of art, anthropology and environmental studies, Prof Deger focuses her research on the ways digital media is transforming how we see, know and care about the world.
As a filmmaker, curator and writer, Prof Deger brings an innovative approach to social research reflecting her background in anthropology and communications.
“Art, films and exhibitions are fantastic ways to reach a wider public with insights and ideas that would otherwise be buried in academic journals,” Prof Deger said.
With her new position at CDU, Prof Deger is excited to draw on the uniqueness of the Northern Territory and to extend her deep-rooted connections with Yolŋu in Arnhem Land.
“Researching with Yolŋu communities and cultural leaders has transformed my approach to scholarship. My Yolŋu collaborators are amazingly innovative. They inspire and guide our on-going experiments with producing knowledge in different forms,” Prof Deger said.
“Although many people worry that digital screens disconnect us from the so-called ‘real world’, our work explores how we might strengthen relationship with other people and places by digitally activating forms of care and connection.”
As a founding member of the Arnhem Land-based arts collective, Miyarrka Media, Prof Deger joins CDU with a commitment to expanding the potential of transdisciplinary and co-creative scholarship with her Yolŋu research partners.
“My Yolŋu colleagues and I founded Miyarrka Media with the goal of bringing our different worlds to into relationship. Our guiding motto is ‘we share life’. I’m continually struck by the deep generosity in the work we do together,” Prof Deger said.
Miyarrka Media’s book Phone & Spear: A Yuta Anthropology won the Gregory Bateson Book Prize by Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Best Artist-led Publication Prize by the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand in 2020.
“Moving to CDU opens a new chapter for this research. The Northern Institute is leading the way in terms of innovative Indigenous research collaborations. I’m excited to contribute to this energetic and future-focused research environment.”
One of Prof Deger’s current projects is Raŋipuy, a Yolŋu digital art of renewal that seeks to enrich Australians’ understanding of the beach as a critical zone of Indigenous history, identity and environmental knowledge.
The project builds on Prof Deger’s growing interest in environmentally focused research. She recently co-curated the website Feral Atlas: The More-Than-Human Anthropocene, which brings together more than 100 scientists, artists, humanists and activist and explores the “feral ecologies” that arise when nonhuman entities get tangled up with industrial and imperial infrastructure.
This innovative online publication from Stanford University Press won Gold Medal for Best Adult Non-Fiction by the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2021.
In 2020, the Feral Atlas Collective were ranked Top 15 on ArtReview’s Power100 list of international art world influencers.
With a passion to learn more about the artworld in here the Northern Territory, Prof Deger said she was especially excited to become involved with CDU’s Art Gallery.
“CDU holds an incredibly rich and important collection of Indigenous and regional Northern Territory art. It has great potential as a research resource, especially perhaps for the relatives and descendants of artists whose work is held in the collection. I’m hoping that Miyarrka Media might exhibit some of our new work there too down the track. Watch this space”.
To learn more about Prof Deger’s research, visit cdu.edu.au/northern-institute/our-teams/jennifer-deger