The Role of the Technology in the Making of a Thesis Whisperer

Jodie-Lee Trembath (Author)

Australian National University

Inger Mewburn (Author)

Australian National University


This paper explores the notion of the human-technology hybrid, seeking to understand how ‘smart’ technologies are enmeshed with humans in their fleshier forms to assemble different identities from moment to moment. One participant - the Director of Research Training (DRT) at a high-ranking research-intensive university - was shadowed as she interacted with the human and non-human actants within her network to produce and sustain various identities. The goal of the study was to illuminate aspects of the DRT’s working day that are not accounted for in her job description or performance plan, but are crucial to her success in her role; that is to say, the ‘invisible work’ that she undertakes, and the ways in which she enrolls, translates and works with or against various technologies - and they, her.

In exploring three forms of invisible work – a) where the employee is visible but the work is invisible, b) where the employee is invisible but the work is visible, and c) where both work and employee are invisible – we argue that it is critical for university administrators to understand the invisible work that human/smart technology hybrids are doing within academic environments in order to best manage their rapidly changing workforces and the organizational climates in which they work. 

Author Biographies

Jodie-Lee Trembath, Australian National University

PhD Candidate

Department of Anthropology

College of Asia and the Pacific

Inger Mewburn, Australian National University

Associate Professor and Director of Research Training


How to Cite
Trembath, J.-L., & Mewburn, I. (2017). The Role of the Technology in the Making of a Thesis Whisperer. The Unfamiliar, 7(1), 13–26.