Friday, October 28, 2005

The first edition of the Ericsson Catalague 1886

Cover of Katalog
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Yesterday I went to the Föreningan Stockholms Företagsminnen (Centre for Business History in Stockholm) - a very interesting place. They have collections from some of Swedens largest companies including an archive they call the "The Ericsson Files". I went through Ericsson's very first catalogues from 1886 through to 1925, the early days of the telephone when its form was still being conceived and imagined. I felt like a cross between an industrial spy, researcher, detective and maybe ecclesiastical monk as I sat in this completely sealed basement with these very ancient "manuscripts" and gingerly turned their pages which revealed beautiful hand illustrated expressions of what a telephone could be - they were extraordinarily elegant creatures - but also a little monstruous.

Telephone Apparatus

Originally uploaded by Juzza.
What is a phone? Was it a piece of furniture, pipe organ, treasure chest, church altar? And where did this hybrid creature live? On a wall, on a desk, on the floor, inside a cabinet? What parts of its workings should be hidden and what should be revealed? It was all up for grabs as this entity came into being, not quite something old or something new...I made lots of photocopies and am going back next Thursday to do more research.


large switch
Originally uploaded by Juzza.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Literary Meme

Feeling a little wobbly after a big day yesterday and night out afterwards. The post doc scholars and myself have been very looked after by ACSIS. We were taken out for dinner after the seminar and then met some other PhD students at "The World Bar" around the corner from the University. Great night!!!

On a slightly different matter, I have been invited to participate in a meme by Mac over at Stone in the Field, she keeps a great blog and one that I visit regularly.

A meme, for those who haven't heard of one before, is a replicating "form". It is like a memory trace in evolutionary terms and has been developed by various people like Stephen Dawkins to try to connect evolutionary theory with cultural and behavioural patterning. Memes, like this one, constitute a series of rules and some applied content. They spread like viruses but in fact are not necessarily self-replicating and can require human involvement/agency for the meme to spread. For this meme, I brought limited fiction books over to Sweden with me so I am putting this meme together with the non-fiction books that I'm currently reading for my PhD.

The meme rules are:

1. Take first five novels from your bookshelf.
2. Book 1 -- first sentence
3. Book 2 -- last sentence on page 50
4. Book 3 -- second sentence on page 100
5. Book 4 -- next to the last sentence on page 150
6. Book 5 -- final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.
8. Feel free to "cheat" to make it a better paragraph.
9. Name your sources
10.Post to your blog.

Here's the result:

A philosopher to another philosopher observed, "There is a mystery. You are very well known and yet very unknown. Your fellow philosophers scarely read you."

The philosopher replied; "It is a matter of moving toward the world, making it mobile, bringing it to the site of controversy, keeping it engaged, and making it available for arguments.
Only then, I think, can we learn to appreciate that the respect for me as an individual need not run counter to respect for others (in general), but that each is a condition of the other. On the other hand there are still those that are primarily interested in the social influence of the media, mainly the news."

The first philosopher comments, "Another area in which such bonds are evident is in wartime and postwar commemoration.

The books in order are:

1. Michel Serres with Bruno Latour: Conversations on Science, Culture and Time translated by Roxanne Lapidus
2. Pandora's Hope: Essays on the Reality of Science Studies by Bruno Latour
3. British Cultural Studies: An Introduction by Graeme Turner
4. Moves in Modernity edited by Johan Fornäs and Göran Bolin
5. Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Seminar day

ACSIS is holding a number of seminars today by the visiting post doc students. I'm looking forward to hearing more about their work. I'm attending the seminar day and have been invited to join them afterwards for dinner. I'm crashing on A.'s floor in Norköpping since it's such a long trip back to Stockholm. Better dash...gotta catch the X2000 this morning.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Halloween on Drottningatan

Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Can you see the ghost? Maybe Halloween is celebrated in Sweden. Attempts to import this North American holiday into Australia haven't been very successful but there is a lot more "Halloween presence" in Stockholm. Maybe I'll get a door knock - must remember to buy some lollies except they probably won't last until Oct 31st.

Boots, boots and more boots

Boots and boots
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
It's the time of year to buy boots in Sweden. There's plenty to choose from but these fluffy, white ones looked particularly warm and comfy. I've been tempted too but I can't imagine they'll get much wear in Sydney.

Autumn fashion in Stockholm

Autumn fashion in Stockholm
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Notice the mits on the model on the left. I'm glad her hands will be warm but what about the legs of the model on the right? I haven't seen anyone wearing skirts in Stockholm recently. I'm shivering at the thought. The model centre stage, on the other hand, does seem to have a look that I've spotted among the younger set - the close fitting jeans and long boots. An alternative to purchasing new jeans to keep up with this trend is to put rubber bands around your ankles thus achieving the same narrow jeans look. I kid you not. I discovered it observing fashionable travellers on the T-bana and then tried it out on a drafty train trip. In addition to it being trendy, it keeps the warm air around your legs. Tricky.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Now, my dog is called Qwerty and my cat Pixel, so my appreciation of the world of computing is well signposted but a Swedish couple have gone much further and called their newborn child "Google". As you may read there is a very tenuous link to "Google" actually meaning something. A Googol means 1 followed by 100 zeros but you can imagine the company is pleased as punch. They are reported to have announced that they are "delighted at the news of the first Google baby."

“We wish him long life and good health, and hope his schoolmates aren't too hard on him,” writes the company’s in-house blogger.

Cafe Copacabana

Met one of Helene's friends and a friend of hers for afternoon tea/coffee in Hornstull. Quite a trendy innercity area of Stockholm. The cafe Cafe Copacabana is on Hornstullsstrand 3, Stockholm and is situated on the waterfront. It was a rainy and grey day but we had a wonderful time chatting and wiling the afternoon away. We strolled about Hornstull afterwards and I bought a cinammon pastry from an Italian cafe (to eat later - hah! It smelt so good I ended up eating on the train platform) and then caught the T-bana back to Asspuden. Now I have made home made pizza for dinner and it's in the oven.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Steaming fruit

Steaming fruit
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
In the deli section of the Söder shopping market in Medborgarplatsen. The fruit and vegies are steamed to keep the air moist since it is usually very dry.

Living on the water

Living on the water
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Walking towards Södermalm along the waters edge, I passed a number of marine residences.

A place to sit and be still

A nice place to sit
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
I happened upon this quiet spot walking in the forest park of Långholmen. I like the painted blue seat and flower planter box, it looked like someone's special place, cared for and loved.

Autumn cover

Autumn cover
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Walking the forest trails of Långholmen, an island in Lake Mälaren, adjutting Södermalm. The island, like Pinchgut in Sydney Harbour, used to house a prison called Kronohäktet. The autumn cover of leaves is thick and extensive, the ground not even peaking through...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Research inroads

Yesterday and today I focused on the field work aspect of my exchange to Sweden. For my research project I proposed interviewing staff at Ericsson or Sony Ericsson about the companys role in envisaging future work practices, particularly in relation to the office. These acts of imagining the future are a significant dimension of "high tech" companies. They contribute to the shaping of particular technologies as they emerge as material entities. This does not mean they are closed off at this point. Their "nature" is not sealed into a cultural and material form by these ideational exercises but they do nevertheless contribute to their becoming - what a technology might be or not be, who will use it or not use it etc. This speculative conceptualisation is a process that probably intersects with many staff, departments and practices of the company (or companies as they case may be). I am interested in crossing some of these paths as a researcher/student, to discover more about these practices of speculation and how staff reflect on them.

From Australia, I contacted the staff listed on the Swedish version of Ericssons web site. Not surprisingly the staff listed work in Corporate Communications. While their initial response appeared to be quite positive and suggested they were sending my email on to suitable staff, unfortunately I have not heard from them since despite my follow up emails. However, on my first day at ACSIS I was introduced to a senior researcher in the Department of Computer Science and Informatics at Linköping University. I found out he used to work for Ericsson and he was very encouraging of my research. He emailed me with a number of Ericsson and Sony Ericsson contacts yesterday and this morning I contacted them by email.

Research has much in common with travel I think, probably highlighted by the merging of the two in this exchange experience. The places or objects of study are vague, amorphous entities with little form but act as a kind of screen for the projection of ideas, feelings and expectations. Ericsson is such a place or site. As I encounter Ericsson, it is not, as you might imagine, a confrontation or meeting, a sort of front on collision between subject and object. There is no clear line that is traversed, that separates the place where I was with the place where I want to be but instead a process of encountering this place or thing called Ericsson from many partial connections and perspectives. The research object starts to come into view through these partial connections and perspectives that take place over time. And not just into view, since this privileges the visual encounter as the primary and single mode of knowledge. The 'site' gains definition through all my proprioceptive capacities mediated by the technologies through which I encounter it.
Ericsson does not become immediately present to me but becomes a place or a site as a series of names, a person I meet, a phone call, an email address...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Boarding the X2000 to Stockholm

Boarding the X2000 to Stockholm
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
I caught the X2000 from Norrköping back to Stockholm this afternoon. It takes just over an hour. I did some readings on the train journey but felt a little queazy when the train tilted into the corners.

A. and myself!

A and me!
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
A. is on a Post doc here at ASCIS for 8 weeks and is from Belgium. At lunch time we talked about the representation of female subjectivity in films.

E. and myself!

E and me!
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
It's grand to be at ACSIS with E. and A. while they are here on Post doc grants. E. is also here on a Post doc from Essex in the UK. She showed me some of the sites of Norrköping when I first arrived.

Post Doc Students at ACSIS

Post Doc Students at ACSIS
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
A very Bridget Jones moment!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Arbetet Museum

Arbetet Museum
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
The Museum of Work where ACSIS is located is surrounded by water. I am on the fourth floor on the right hand side.

Narrow lane

Narrow lane
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Yesterday I strolled through Gamla Stan, the Old City of Stockholm. I happened upon this very narrow lane off a side alley.

Looking west

Looking west
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
A cold day out in Gamla Stan.

Clock in Gamla Stan

Clock in Gamla Stan
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Here is another clock or two to add to my Stockholm Clock Collection. This one is in a little side street in the Old City.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

More Stockholm wonders

Today I woke pretty late, about 11am. One of Helene's friends I met at the French restaurant my second night in Sweden invited me for a drink last night. We met at Slussen on Göttgaten and then walked down the hill and stopped at a small boutique bar. It was a mixed gay and lesbian bar with a very relaxed and cosy atmosphere. The room was tiny and in space-smart Swedish style, a piano had been perched on top of a loft leaving space for the bar beneath. The room comfortably fit about six or seven people and by the end of the night there were about 30 in the bar, most standing. Somehow the night just flew by, as time seems to have done since arriving in Sweden. One minute we were getting our first drink and settling in for a chat and next minute we were all being booted out of the bar at 2am. Our conversation meandered over such topics as Swedish politics, our research projects, the gay and lesbian scenes in France, Sweden and Australia and identity politics. When we emerged from the bar in the early hours of the morning, the temperature had dropped greatly. It was really cold and we shivered our way back up the hill to Slussen station to part.

Today after a lazy breakfast and warming phone call from my girl friend in Australia I went into town and booked a Canal Tour on the waters around Stockholm. A perspective of Stockholm from the water was a good way to get a sense of the topology of the city, although still far from complete. It's a stunning city and the weather today, despite being very chilly, was again clear and crisp. I put the headphones on during the canal tour and flicked through the guided recordings in other languages before settling on English. The narration was light with long gaps filled with Nordic music - some classical songs and a number of well known Abba tracks. The description swung between in depth statistical figures of such things as population and number of bridges and islands in the Stockholm area and brief snippets about the history and sites of the harbour. The tour ended with a story of the capsizing of the ship "Wasser" only twenty minutes after it was launched. It is now housed inside Wasser museum - the entire ship - and the building is literally moulded around the ship with the masts popping through the ceiling towards the sky.

I received an SMS on the canal tour from one of the Post Doc students at ACSIS. I will call her A because unlike Helene, I have not asked her permission to use her name in my blog. A is from Belgium and speaks an impressive number of languages fluently including Swedish. I feel a bit envious of the ease with which she communicates here in Sweden.
She invited me to join her to see an exhibtion at Liljevachs Konsthall which is showing a retrospective of Helen Chadwick's work. I didn't know anything about Helen Chadwick but thought it would be enjoyable to join her. We met and walked up to the gallery. The leaves were golden and dropping and swirling about in the wind. Kids walked past and kicked up the piles of leaves in the gutters and they fell lightly to the ground again. It was so beautiful.

The exhibition reallly blew me away. I hadn't heard of Helen Chadwick but she is a British artist (now passed away). She was a feminist artist and explored interesting juxtapositions of different materials and technologies, including her own body. There was one exhibition of a large pool of bubbling chocolate with a phallic font in the centre spitting out chocolate. It reminded me of one of the sulphur pools in Rotorua in New Zealand except the whole room smelt like rich, dark chocolate. It was delicious but also repulsive and looked like faeces and when you went up close you could see the bacteria in the brown, bubbling and boiling pool. I felt a twinning of emotion; repulsion and temptation in equal doses, neither overcoming the other but sharing an uncomfortable balance. I am very thankful to A. for inviting me along - a very special experience. Thankful seems to be a permanent state for me recently. I feel brimming with it, a light bubbly feeling that just gets richer and stronger every day.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Hornsgaten in Mariatorget

Hornsgaten in Maria Torget
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
A typical street scene on Hornsgaten, literally Horns Street. I've started a collection of "clock shots". I have never seen such an array of public clocks in a city before. One never need to keep one's own time in Stockholm. The time is always on display...


Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Wandering the streets of Mariaberget in Södermalm.

Södermalm at night

Södermalm at night
Originally uploaded by Juzza.
On my second night in Stockholm, Helene and I walked around Södermalm on the way to a French restaurant to meet some of her friends and have dinner. The restaurant was a creperie called Fyra Knop which means Four Knots, and the crepes were divine.


Originally uploaded by Juzza.
Apparently this is one of the world's first neon signs dating back to the 1890's. Helene pointed it out to me. It's just next to the Södra Teatern.

Day out and about in Södermalm

Today was my first day relaxing and settling in since arriving in Sweden. I've had an amazing few days since arriving in Stockholm but what a whirlwind of activity! Today I took it easy and did a bit of settling in. I mastered the washing room arrangements in the basement of the apartment block. In Stockholm, the apartments have a shared washing room with free washing machines, dryers and a drying room for all the residents. There is a booking system whick took me a little while to decipher. The set up seems so much more sensible that the individualistic approach in Australia: each apartment with their own washing machines and dryer, costing plenty, taking up room and just sitting there, probably only being used once or twice a week at the most. What a waste! It took me a while to work out the buttons on the washing machine. The instructions were only in Swedish and the icons were unfamiliar to me. After making the machine beep at me a few times, I eventually got it to start. I learnt a bit more Swedish this morning while waiting for my washing to run its cycle.

I went out this afternoon armed with my brand new phrases semi-stored in memory and headed off to Södermalm. Södermalm is a big island in the waters that wind in and around Stockholm and is also the highest point of the city. It is also one of the oldest parts of town and very groovy. Lots of little cobblestone lanes with elegant street facing buildings and cute boutiques, cafes and bars. I made a number of transactions; asking for a tea in Tully's Cafe and an English-Swedish dictionary at a book store. Both times I completed the entire transaction in Swedish. The other transactions I stumbled over my broken Swedish and was rescued by the shop owners, all of who speak very reasonable English. Everyone I have come across here is very friendly and helpful. Most are pleasantly amused to interact with a tourist/overseas visitor attempting to speak Swedish when they speak perfectly good English but are encouraging nevertheless. The weather is still beautiful, mild and clear at about 14 degrees during the day. It gets cold in the shade though and as the sun goes down. I've started carrying around my scarf and hat in case I get caught after dark. The sun is setting at about 5:30pm or maybe even 6pm but will soon be setting earlier as Winter approaches.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

view from office

Originally uploaded by Juzza.

my office

Originally uploaded by Juzza.
This is my office at ACSIS in Norrköping. I can't believe I have my own office - very cool!

First day at ACSIS

This is my first morning at ACSIS in Norrköping and I am sitting in my allocated office which looks out to the old industrial buildings that have been restored and the Norkköping river which surrounds the centre. I caught the X2000 (extremely fast) train from Stockholm and sat next to Johan, the Director of the centre, on the train. He drew me a very detailed organisational map of the university and its various departments and academics and their interrelations with ACSIS on a piece of paper while we sped through the misty landscape at about 200Km an hour. Yesterday was my first day in Sweden and Helene showed me around Stockholm. She has been exceptionally generous and kind to me and I met some of her friends (all PhD students) last night. One of them is doing her research on mailing lists and gender on the Internet.

For someone who is interested in systems, Sweden is a very interesting place to visit. I have been fascinated by all the systems they have here - for managing people and everyday life - in the train station
and in the apartment buildings, tourist bureau and offices. There are also a lot of clocks in Stockholm too. I have never seen so many clocks, on buildings and walls around town. I was also delightfully surprised on my first day here to see many dogs with their owners catching trains on the Underground (Tunnelbana). Like France, pets are allowed on public transport and in apartment buildings.

Tomorrow I will be giving a brief presentation during the monthly secret event. I have brought with me all the bits and pieces (caps, pens and publications) to hand out and will say a little bit about myself and CCR.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

In the air in a few hours

Four hours to go before I head off to the airport. I just went for a walk to stretch my legs and grabbed some fresh juice. It's super windy today. Last bit of packing to do and then to Sweden I head...Mix of sadness and excitement at the thought of leaving.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Part 1: cultural studies in my home town

The student exchange I'm about to embark on is a joint program organised by the Centre for Cultural Research (CCR) at UWS where I'm studying and the Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden (ACSIS). Professor Johan Fornäs, Director of ACSIS, has invited myself and some Post doc students who are visiting ACSIS to participate in an exercise of reflecting on the state of interdisciplinary and critical cultural research in the context of our home countries with particular attention to the following:

- Current developments in the field, concerning research policy, resources and/or intellectual trends
- Most pressing threats and dangers to the field
- Best arguments for cultural studies and cultural research

He has suggested that we write this in two parts - a short essay at the beginning of the visit and a final essay towards the end which would build in any insights from the period of stay in Sweden.

This exercise is a very timely one for me for a number of reasons. Starting my Phd at the beginning of this year has also meant a return and re-engagement with 'cultural studies' after many years away from University. Over the last six months I have actively (and sometimes passively) been making connections and building bridges between my past and current experiences to understand what cultural studies is now, how it has changed and what it means in relation to my own project.

So, with some trepidation and a bout of nerves, I am tackling this exercise in my blog. Why blog it? Well, partly because this journey to Sweden (and the various exercises, meetings, expeditions, contacts and nights out that it may comprise) is a pivotal dimension of my PhD experience and the original raison d'etre of this blog. I have a practical motive too. A blog entry is an effective marker representing the starting point for my reflections on this topic and a point to return to later when I write up the second essay. There is another reason why I'm blogging this exercise and that's because I would love to hear from other bloggers, be they students or not, in Australia or elsewhere, with their views on these questions about 'cultural studies'...