Hi everyone! I’m Nele (she/her), and while I’ve been involved with Fanhackers for a long time, it’s been years since I actually said hello by name. So, intro post for me too.

I’m unjapanologist on Twitter and Tumblr. I live in Belgium and have two jobs: research support specialist at a local academic library, and Japanese to English translator. Fannishly, I started out with Jurassic Park and Elfquest in the nineties, then fell into a long list of Japanese classics from Zetsuai 1989/BRONZE to Fushigi Yuugi and Gundam Wing. These inspired teenage me to choose Japanese studies at university. (Thank you, boys’ love manga and old-school yaoi fandom, for my career.) I later had the unavoidable Harry Potter phase and have been cycling through a range of fandoms since. My current fixations are Dragon Age and IT.

I encountered fan studies just as I was gearing up to start a PhD in Japanese studies. For me, the field was a source of endless inspiration, fun, and encouragement from other scholars and fans who were excited about my research on Japanese dojinshi creators and happily supplied both support and concrit. I loved both the welcoming people in fan studies and the endless variety of perspectives that they offered. Studying fan cultures meant that I had to learn about copyright, community formation, the technical underpinnings of tools like websites and social media, how our economic system influences what people do with media, and so much more. Fan studies gave me the opportunity to really dig into many topics that are crucial for understanding our (digital) world.

It also pushed me to develop an interest in how and why people create and exchange works just for fun, without wanting to profit off of them. I got the chance to publish some early musings on that in Transformative Works and Cultures, the open access academic journal of the OTW. Learning more about the open access movement helped me realize that fannish publishing is weirdly reminiscent in many ways of academic publishing—especially in the sense that it’s people with non-profit motives trying to get stuff out there while navigating a fundamentally for-profit publishing system. That interest in academic publishing led me to keep volunteering for the OTW on Fanhackers, and also to my spanking new job: I just started working at a university library in a team that supports researchers in doing and publishing open, accessible, and collaborative research, with a focus on research data.

So! For Fanhackers, I’ll be working on the OTW’s fan studies bibliography and talking a lot about the practicalities of how fans can participate in research on fan culture. Where can we find existing research on fans? How can we access articles that seem to be behind a paywall, so we can use them for our own research? Where and how can we publish our writings on fans? If an academic somewhere is doing interesting stuff on something we know a lot about, how can we get involved? And so on. If you have any questions on that, drop us a note via our website or Tumblr.

Meet the volunteer: Nele
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