Existential Terrains

Duration: 2014 – 2018

What does it mean to be a human being in the digital age? How are those classic existential questions about our finitude and the afterlife, about time, space, ‘meaning’, selfhood and sociality, negotiated and understood in cultures of connectivity? Our communication culture, as an existential terrain, offers new spaces for exploring the profundity of life, but at the same time raises new existential predicaments and vulnerabilities.

This project examines the basic issues and big questions of our digital existence. With a particular focus on death, as the key existential given, it interrogates how we should conceive of our media ontology when digitalization now pervades our entire material lifeworld and the human condition.

Drawing on existential philosophy and combining approaches from death studies, memory studies and the field of media, religion and culture we are studying posthumous memory work, mourning online, the digital afterlife, after death communication, trolling and blogging about terminal illness. Focusing mainly on Sweden, we are also analyzing developments in the Global North, in particular in the UK, USA, Finland and Russia.

The research programme constitutes a national resource centre for the study of digital media and existential issues. In our international research network DIGMEX we are organizing a seminar series, workshops on digital media ethics and conferences. The programme collaborates closely with our international advisory board and affiliated team of researchers. We are also working with a reference group of stakeholders, state authorities and NGOs.

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