Dr Emma A. Jane (previously known as Emma Tom) is a cyberhate researcher based at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she recently completed her PhD. She is an award-winning journalist, author, and broadcaster, who once replaced the official Moscow Circus girl in the Globe of Death on a dare from a newspaper reader. Her previous life as a gonzo journalist also involved competing in a women’s only demolition derby (she was knocked unconscious), attending superbike school (some actual sparks came off her motorbike’s footpegs), and caring for a domesticated scorpion (it was about as exciting as watching slightly poisonous paint dry). These days, her thrillseeking is confined to riding a yarn-bombed electric push bike through Sydney traffic. Emma A. Jane is the author of seven books. The seventh – Modern Conspiracy – is co-authored with Chris Fleming and was published by Bloomsbury in August 2014.

NEW BOOK: Modern Conspiracy – The Importance of Being Paranoid - by Emma A. Jane and Chris Fleming
While conspiracy theory is often characterized in terms of the collapse of objectivity and Enlightenment reason, Modern Conspiracy traces the important role of conspiracy in the formation of the modern world: the scientific revolution, social contract theory, political sovereignty, religious paranoia and mass communication media. Rather than seeing the imminent death of Enlightenment reason and a regression to a new Dark Age in conspiratorial thinking, Modern Conspiracy suggests that many characteristic features of conspiracies tap very deeply into the history of the Enlightenment: its vociferous critique of established authorities and a conception of political sovereignty fuelled by fear of counter-plots, for example. Perhaps, ultimately, conspiracy theory affords us a renewed opportunity to reflect on our very relationship to the truth itself.

RESEARCH

Online misogyny, cyberbullying, and digital mobs are the current foci of Emma’s ongoing research into the social and ethical implications of emerging technologies.

Her current research project entitled Cyberhate: The New Digital Divide? observes that although the internet’s rapid growth has delivered countless social benefits, it also offers people new opportunities to attack each other with unprecedented venom and impunity. Emma uses the term “e-bile” to refer to the extravagant invective, sexualised threats of violence, and recreational nastiness that have come to characterise a dominant tenor of discourse in many parts of the cybersphere. In particular, her current research project investigates the threat posed to online participation and digital citizenship by the recent, marked increase in rape threats and sexualised vitriol directed at women online. It will culminate in an international cyberhate symposium in 2017, and aims to lay the foundations for future research which canvasses real-world solutions to the problem of cyberhate in forms as diverse as technology design, educational initiatives, and policy.

Emma’s work is interdisciplinary, informed by the fields of philosophy, cultural and media studies, internet studies, feminist and gender theory, discourse analysis, sociology, literary theory, and social psychology. Her research draws on her extensive skills in journalism as well as her rigorous academic training. During the first 25 years of her professional life, she achieved national prominence as a senior journalist, columnist, feature writer, and editor at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian newspapers. While working in journalism, she published two novels and four non-fiction books. In 2006, Emma transitioned into academia and completed her Masters (2007) and Doctoral (2012) dissertation while working full-time as a writer, and supporting her daughter as a single parent.

Emma received multiple awards for her journalism and fiction writing including the 1997 Henry Lawson Award for Journalism and the 1998 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Asia and the South Pacific for Best First Novel. In recognition of her expertise and exemplary standing in the profession, she also served on Australia’s Advertising Standards Board from 2003 to 2007. Her academic expertise was recently recognised by the Australian Federal Government when it funded her current research project through a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA). In 2013 the Australian Human Rights Commission invited her to deliver her research findings at a public forum on cyberhate. She is also frequently interviewed by the media about her academic research.

BOOKS IN PROGRESS

Emma is currently engaged in a substantial update of the fifth edition of the SAGE text Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice, after which she will be listed as an equal co-author with the current author, Chris Barker. She is also working on a book called Outsmarted: Cognitive Enhancement and the Unintended Consequences of Emerging Technologies with Associate Professor Nicole A Vincent from Georgia State University in Atlanta.

Photo of Emma A. Jane: Richard Weinstein