Depending on whether one premises academic literature, press reports, or vernacular folklore, the origin stories of microcelebrity cultures can differ greatly. As academics, we are often inclined to deem as canon and factual the descriptions detailed in refereed academic publications, viewing them as scientific truths that take precedence over other forms of written records such as traditional press or popular media reports. But what happens if the origin stories of cultural phenomena are not logged in these traditionally privileged outlets that are often in the English language, and in a vocabulary not usually accessible to the general populace? What happens if the origin stories of cultural happenings remain within the domains of material or oral folklore without ever being logged as transmittable text? How do researchers go about reading theory, applying concepts, and interpreting their data while maintaining the critical lens of cultural relativism? In this chapter I contemplate the origin stories of my research on microcelebrity cultures between 2009 and 2018 both thematically and conceptually, by biographically recounting my methodological and theoretical trajectories in studying internet celebrities. As an act of radical transparency in displaying some of my most intimate fieldnotes – such as how I came upon particular schools of thought and theories – and as a reflexive mode of transcribing from material and oral culture the earliest beginnings of microcelebrity culture in Singapore as a participant observer, I hope this methodological biography will contribute toward rethinking the politics of our knowledge production as researchers.
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