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When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
Wild Tides articulates the ways in which the circulatory logics of contemporary capitalism are mapped within the Republic of Ireland (Ireland) through the spatial lens of media industries and their infrastructures. Building upon existing critical research on media infrastructure, financialization, and logistics, the dissertation unpacks the shifting cultural and economic policy logics in Ireland since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The effects of this crisis in the country revealed the extent to which Ireland’s political, economic, cultural, and environmental futures were tied to the turbulence of global financial markets and trade. The dissertation addresses this post-crisis environment through three case study chapters: 1) creative industries and media production environments around Dublin (film studios, post-production hubs, urban formations, peripheral industries and infrastructures); 2) media and cultural policy across urban and rural spaces (media production funding, tax breaks, transnational agreements, labour conditions); 3) media infrastructures and the technology industry (data centers, tech industry clusters, pro-business planning, environmental discussions).
The dissertation builds on research emphasizing the integral role that infrastructure plays within the social and spatial environments of contemporary life under global capitalism, contributing insights relevant to media industry studies, infrastructure studies, science and technology studies, and human geography. Responding to formative media studies questions as to the cultural role of media within contemporary transnational capitalism and the decline of nation-state governance, the dissertation applies political economy and critical geography to expand understandings of the emplaced role of labour, communities, and landscapes within media and its infrastructures. Drawing on extensive site-specific fieldwork in Ireland, policy and discourse analysis, and an interdisciplinary theoretical grounding, my approach, as well as looking inside the media infrastructures to see how they work, also looks at intensities and externalities: the edges of governance, where local culture interacts with sites of infrastructural development.
The dissertation finds that the infrastructures of production and circulation of culture and media in Ireland are deeply intertwined via financial and business policy arrangement in the Irish government both before and after the crisis, revealing entanglements of the state and transnational corporations and implications of their complex cooperation on-the-ground. The interlocking operations of the Irish state and transnational corporations effectively naturalize the role of foreign direct investment (FDI) in determining Ireland’s spatial, political, cultural, and economic futures. The thesis unpacks these financialized logics of corporate and cultural development as they are enacted and lived in an environment of widespread economic austerity and more recent recovery. The concluding chapter of the dissertation unpacks the cultural politics of data centers in Ireland and the role of the tech industry within global climate change. Speaking to the role of media infrastructure in Ireland’s present and future, it proposes ways to think about infrastructure that do not play into the shifting tides of the global economy and contribute to ongoing environmental damage.