Festival Welcome and Opening key note: Fiction as Social Inquiry


Bio: "Dr Ash Watson is a sociologist of technology and fiction with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society at UNSW Sydney. Her research uses arts-based and qualitative methods to explore the socio-cultural impacts of emerging technologies as well as the kinds of futures that are opened or closed off by current trends. She is particularly interested in the visions and practices of 'DIY' collectives, including startups and queer archives. Ash’s debut novel Into the Sea (2020), published in Brill's award-winning Social Fictions Series, is ‘an experiment in sociological imagination.’ Drawing on ethnographic research, the story follows a group of young adults through a year of the mundane and extraordinary to consider what it means to live the so-called 'Australian way of life'. Ash is the creator/editor of So Fi Zine (sofizine.com), an open-access publication for sociological fiction, poetry and visual art. She is also Fiction Editor of The Sociological Review, heading the journal's short story series, and an Editorial Board member of Qualitative Research. She recently co-guest edited a special issue of Art/Research International on Fiction as Research. Prior to her current position, she was an ARC-funded Postdoctoral Fellow on the Discovery Project ""Living with Personal Data"", working with Prof Deborah Lupton and Prof Mike Michael, based at the UNSW Vitalities Lab. During her doctoral studies she was awarded an Endeavour Research Fellowship which she undertook at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her PhD in Sociology was awarded by Griffith University in 2018."

Mark Elliot, University of Manchester

Why and how can we do social research with fiction? In this keynote I trace some of the many forms fiction takes within contemporary social inquiry to consider what creative writing offers as a medium and method for research. Bring along something to write with.

Watch the video of this keynote speech.