Amanda Lagerkvist is Professor of Media and Communication Studies and a founder of existential media studies. Her current work focuses on disability, selfhood and datafication, biometric automation of human life and the Earth and futurological and apocalyptic socio-technical imaginaries of AI. She is the author of Existential Media: A Media Theory of the Limit Situation (OUP, 2022), which introduces Karl Jaspers' philosophy for media theory. http://www.im.uu.se/research/hub-for-digtal-existence
Nyckelord: automation existential media studies digital culture existential philosophy media and memory biometrics death online media theory media philosophy critical disability studies ai imaginaries
Amanda Lagerkvist is a senior lecturer and full professor of media and communication studies in the Department of Informatics and Media at Uppsala University. She is a founder of existential media studies, and the PI of the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence: https://www.im.uu.se/forskning/uppsala-informatics-and-media-hub-for-digital-existence/
Throughout her career Professor Lagerkvist has contributed to the humanistic, qualitative and phenomenological branch of media studies. She holds a PhD from Stockholm University in 2005 and her doctoral dissertation Amerikafantasier. Kön, medier och visualitet i svenska reseskildringar från USA 1945-63, is a cultural history of the media which places the relationship to the US centrally for understanding Swedish postwar media history, and offers a phenomenological investigation into the intersections of space, lived experience, mediation and traveling. During her postdoc years (funded by the Foundation of Anna Ahlström and Ellen Terserus 2005-2007, and as Research Fellow at SINAS: The Swedish Institute for North American Studies at Uppsala University, 2007-2010) she developed an overarching socio-phenomenological approach to media (and memory), exemplified in her monograph Media and Memory in New Shanghai: Western Performances of Futures Past (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
Between 2010-2013 she was Lecturer in Media and Communication Studies at Södertörn University where she became an Associate Professor of MCS in 2010. Professor Lagerkvist was appointed Wallenberg Academy Fellow in 2013 and between 2014-2018 she headed the research programme ”Existential Terrains: Memory and Meaning in Cultures of Connectivity” (http://et.ims.su.se) at Stockholm University, funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW) and the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation (MAW). The collaboration between KAW and the five Swedish academies within the Wallenberg Academy Fellows program, included a mentorship and leadership training program for ‘Research Leaders of the Future’.
Professor Lagerkvist is now heading the research program BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds (2020-2024) a project within WASP-HS, funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation: https://wasp-hs.org
Professor Lagerkvist also heads the RJ project Dismedia: Technologies of the Extraordinary Self (2023-2025): https://www.rj.se/en/grants/2022/dismedia-technologies-of-the-extraordinary-self/
She is a member of the national RJ Programme At The End of the World: A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Apocalyptic Imaginary in the Past and Present (2023-2028) headed by Professor Jayne Svenungsson at Lund University: https://www.rj.se/en/grants/2022/at-the-end-of-the-world-a-transdisciplinary-approach-to-the-apocalyptic-imaginary-in-the-past-and-present/
She is also member of the VR project INTIMATE AI: Young Women’s Self-perception and Embodied Knowledge in the Age of Automation (2023-2026) headed by Dr. Lina Eklund and with Dr. Matilda Tudor and Dr. Helga Sadowski: https://www.vr.se/soka-finansiering/beslut/2022-12-06-projektbidrag-for-forskning-om-digitaliseringens-samhalleliga-konsekvenser.html
In collaboration with the Department of Business Studies at Uppsala University, she received a grant for a WASP-HS Guest Professorship and for hosting Professor Mark Coeckelbergh from Vienna who heads the project AI Design Futures between 2023-2027.
Professor Lagerkvist has a sabbatical for the year 2023 at AI4Research at Uppsala University for the project Assistive AI, Disability and Norms of Being Human: https://www.uu.se/en/research/ai4research/
Lagerkvist is also a member of the FORMAS-funded project The Mediated Planet: Claiming Data for Environmental SDGs (2020-2025) headed by Dr. Sabine Höhler at KTH: https://www.kth.se/en/abe/inst/philhist/historia/forskning/higher-education-ins/the-mediated-planet-claiming-data-for-environmental-sdgs-1.1014650
Professor Lagerkvist was Visiting Scholar at King’s College, London for the academic year of 2018/19, invited by Professor Anna Reading, The Dept. of Culture, Media and Creative Industries.
She was invited to speak at the Into the Air Symposium, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada (the 20th anniversary of the publication of John Durham Peters’ seminal book Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication) where she gave a talk about its reception in Sweden and role in the development of existential media theory. Published here: http://journalcontent.mediatheoryjournal.org/index.php/mt/article/view/151
Amanda Lagerkvist served on the Board and Screening Committee of the Fulbright Commission Sweden (January 2019-December 2020), and was Chair of the Board of the network “Digital Humanities Uppsala”, now The Uppsala Centre for Digital Humanities, for two years (2019-2020).
Professor Lagerkvist's current work and development of existential media studies (EMS) applies and updates classic phenomenological resources in the philosophy of existence to contemporary stakes of digital media and automated media technologies. The overarching aim of EMS is to explore what it means to be human in the digital age, in light of the fact that digital media are both ontologically 'the infrastructures of our being' (as John D. Peters puts it, 2015) and anthropological sites of the limit situations of human life where individuals and groups explore, tackle, and cope existentially (Jaspers 1932/1970). With a particular but not exclusive focus on death online, she developed a theoretical framework for existential media studies, focusing on digital-human vulnerabilities of online mourning, commemoration, and the digital afterlife. The Existential Terrains programme which she headed between 2014-2018, made headway in contributing with an existential approach to digital culture in media studies, while simultaneously contributing to the two subfields death online research and digital memory studies. The programme was the first media studies project in the world that researched the existential dimensions of digitalization, both empirically and theoretically.
The Existential Terrains program also initiated the DIGMEX network, an interdisciplinary research network which is constituted by over 180 scholars from all over the world. DIGMEX members work in for example media and communication studies, media philosophy, software studies, the philosophy of technology, digital media ethics, internet research, cyber sociology, digital culture studies, feminist STS, media religion and culture and digital memory studies. The network organizes seminars, workshops on digital media ethics, a lecture series and has hosted two successful international conferences: ”Digital Existence: Memory, Meaning Vulnerability” October 2015 (http://et.ims.su.se/files/Program-Digital-Existence.pdf) and ”Digital Existence II: Precarious Media Life” October 2017 (http://et.ims.su.se/activities/#2017-11-01). The main outcome of the conference events is the anthology Digital Existence: Ontology, Ethics and Transcendence in Digital Culture (Ed. A. Lagerkvist, Routledge 2019), which introduces the field and has a foreword by John Durham Peters from Yale University.
Professor Lagerkvist is now taking existential media studies in new and urgent directions, by heading the research program "BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds" (2020-2024), a project within WASP-HS, funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Foundation: https://wasp-hs.org She is the PI of the Uppsala Informatics and Media Hub for Digital Existence: https://www.im.uu.se/forskning/uppsala-informatics-and-media-hub-for-digital-existence/
In her monograph Existential Media: A Media Theory of the Limit Situation (Oxford University Press, 2022), Lagerkvist introduces existential media studies through a re-appreciation of Karl Jaspers' philosophy, and his concept of the limit situation. The book theorizes media of, at and as limits; it also offers a reframing of digital media culture through centering empirically on mourning practices and experiences at the limit.
Lagerkvist recently received a three-year grant from Riksbankens jubileumsfond (RJ): ”Dismedia: Technologies of the Extraordinary Self.” (Funkismedier: Det extraordinära självets teknologier”) (2023-2026). As co-applicant she also received a six-year grant from Riksbankens jubileumsfond (RJ) for the national research programme: “At the end of the world: A Transdisciplinary Approach to the Apocalyptic Imaginary in the Past and Present” (”Vid världens slut. En transdisciplinär utforskning av apokalyptiska föreställningar i dåtid och nutid”) (2023-2028) headed by Professor Jayne Svennungsson, Lund University. Additionally, she has received a five-year grant from WASP-HS (The Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation) in a joint venture with Dr. Magnus Strand, the Department of Business Studies, UU for the WASP-HS Guest Professorship Mark Coeckelbergh, University of Vienna, and project: “AI Design Futures” (2023-2027).
Lagerkvist is also a member of the FORMAS-funded project "The Mediated Planet: Claiming Data for Environmental SDGs" (2020-2025) headed by Dr. Sabine Höhler at KTH: https://www.kth.se/en/abe/inst/philhist/historia/forskning/higher-education-ins/the-mediated-planet-claiming-data-for-environmental-sdgs-1.1014650
Lagerkvist’s work has also appeared in for example New Media & Society, AI & Society, Media Theory, Feminist Media Studies, The New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, Journal of Digital Social Research, Thanatos, Television & New Media, The Sociological Review, The International Journal of Cultural Studies, European Journal of Communication, Journal of Visual Culture, Senses and Society, and Space & Culture. She has also contributed to the collections Digital Memory Studies: Media Pasts in Transition (Ed. A. Hoskins, Routledge 2017) and to A Networked Self and Birth, Life, Death (Ed. Z. Papacharissi, Routledge 2018) and Digital Religion 2.0 (edited by Heidi Campbell and Ruth Tsuria, Routledge, 2021).
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