Emma A. Jane (previously known as Emma Tom) is a cyberhate researcher and media lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, where she recently completed her PhD. She is also 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), caring for a domesticated scorpion (it was about as exciting as watching slightly poisonous paint dry), and conducting a nude interview with the feminist porn star Annie Sprinkle (she thinks journalists should always do their best to ensure their interviewees feel at ease). These days, her thrillseeking is confined to riding a yarn-bombed electric push bike through Sydney traffic. Emma A. Jane is the author of six books. The seventh – Modern Conspiracy – is co-authored with Chris Fleming and will be published by Bloomsbury in August 2014.
By Emma A. Jane and Chris Fleming
Modern Conspiracy attempts to sketch a new conception of conspiracy theory. Where many commentators have sought to characterise conspiracy theory in terms of the collapse of objectivity and Enlightenment reason, this book 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 see in conspiratorial thinking the imminent death of Enlightenment reason, and a regression to a new Dark Age, Modern Conspiracy contends that many characteristic features of conspiracies tap very deeply into the history of the Enlightenment itself: among other things, its vociferous critique of established authorities, and a conception of political sovereignty fuelled by fear of counter-plots. Drawing out the roots of modern conspiratorial thinking leads us to truths less salacious and scandalous than the claims of conspiracy theorists themselves yet ultimately far more salutary: about mass communication; about individual and crowd psychology; and about our conception of and relation to knowledge. Perhaps, ultimately, what conspiracy theory affords us is a renewed opportunity to reflect on our very relationship to the truth itself. Currently in production with Bloomsbury.
Emma’s principle research involves tracking hostile discourse on social media platforms and the internet. She became interested in this topic after mapping the gendered invective directed at cheerleaders for her doctoral thesis. She uses the term ‘e-bile’ to describe the extravagant invective, the sexualised threats of violence, and the recreational nastiness that constitute a dominant tenor of discourse in many parts of the cybersphere. She is particularly interested in the way rape threats are currently being deployed online. Emma’s media interviews on e-bile can be found here and here. Her media commentary on digital cultures and the ethics of new technology include newspaper columns on recreational nastiness, scam-baiting, safe sexting, cyber-schadenfreude and Facebook as panopticon. Other research interests include: mob formation and behaviour in cyber domains; the intersections between fetish theory and media studies; the changing nature of power flows on the internet; moral panic; conspiracy theory; cheerleading; and Barbie.
Areas of Expertise
Philosophy of information technology; philosophy of media; social and political philosophy; critical theory; gender studies; feminism; digital cultures.
Photo of Emma A. Jane: Richard Weinstein