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Wednesday 17 September 2014 12:27pm

Anne Begg Vijay Devadas
Dr Anne Begg and her inspiration, Dr Vijay Devadas

A bit of professional development was all Anne Begg was expecting from enrolling part-time at the University of Otago back in 1998, but she says what she got changed her world.

Instead of just a few papers, Anne has amassed a BA in Communication Studies, a PGDipArts in Film and Media Studies (Dist) and an MA in Communication Studies. In December 2012 she crossed the stage in an Otago graduation ceremony for the third time, collecting her PhD in Communication Studies.

“I didn’t plan this pathway,” Anne says. “I returned to teaching at the Otago Polytechnic in 1998 (after leaving to have a family) and worked as a part-time tutor in the Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) degree, teaching Communication Studies. It was then I enrolled at the University part-time, as part of my professional development. By 2001, however, once I got more idea of the options available, I decided to take a leap of faith and become a full-time university student.”

Anne’s first degree enabled her to widen her horizons and follow varied areas of interest including Media Studies, Film Theory, Linguistics, English, Maori Studies, and Computer Science.

Anne lays the inspiration for what followed, her PGDipArts, MA and PhD, at the door of her supervisor for all three - Media, Film and Communication Head of Department, Dr Vijay Devadas.

“My passion for learning has been driven, to a great extent, by Vijay. His passion for academic scholarship encourages students to read widely and to learn to think critically. His enthusiastic support gave me the confidence to embark on postgraduate study.”

In 2003, Anne won the University of Otago Graduates’ Association Aotearoa New Zealand Prize for her PGDipArts dissertation. Anne was also awarded University of Otago scholarships.

“Each time I was offered a scholarship Vijay said to me, ‘This is a privilege, you’ve really got to go with this and see where it takes you’, and that’s precisely what I did. [In fact] I could not have continued without the financial support provided by these scholarships.”

Anne says her PhD thesis ‘Brand New Zealand: Media Governmentality and Affective Biopower’, examines the impact of media culture and brand marketing in today’s society, “especially as they combine to influence norms and shape people’s desires and aspirations”.

“It concludes that brands and brand identities dominate and distort all concepts of self and community and that media plays a key role in producing an exploitative market society.

“This particular area interests me because it links philosophical issues and critical analysis with the social, cultural and political development of Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Anne’s immediate plans include tutoring and guest lecturing in the Media, Film and Communication Department and working as assistant editor for the e-journal borderlands (a virtual intellectual space for new forms of thought and writing in the humanities and social sciences). On the recommendation of her thesis examiners, she also aims to prepare her PhD thesis for publication in book form.

Find out more about Communications Studies at Otago.