Blogtalk Downunder
   May 19-22, Sydney

Blogtalk Downunder

Ben Hoh: What’s in the Box? Modulating vocabularies of trauma and mundanity in refugee blogs

Ben Hoh is a web designer and occasional community cultural development worker who has just started work on a postgraduate thesis about the blogging of cultural difference and trauma, and the implications of this for design and political theory. Former design clients include Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Disney. Future clients will include non-evil people. He is currently working with, around and through “young refugee/migrant people and technology”, and his coolest blog-related experience was mixing it up on stage with Salam Pax at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in 2004. He blogs at

What’s in the Box? Modulating vocabularies of trauma and mundanity in refugee blogs

[Read the complete paper (.doc)]


What happens when stories of suffering collide with details of the mundane in blogs? Reading the writings of refugee bloggers in a recent community cultural development project called “Storybox” as a kind of allegorical labour, this paper explores the ways in which the accretive and fragmentary aspects of the medium contribute to the shifting modulation of “occult” vocabularies that transgress notions of the public and private. This suggests a mode of culture whose basis is somewhere other than “everyday life”. Cinematic and comic-book allegories for this mode are also considered, as are the relationships of the Storybox project and trauma to aporias of design (and) literacy.

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