Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Media and Communication


PhD News – Spring 2017

March 9th, 2017

The School congratulates PhD candidates who have successfully passed their vivas in the past few months, with new graduates taking up positions both in Leeds and further afield.




Luca Antoniazzi has been awarded a PhD on ‘The Sustainability of Film Heritage: Cultural Policy, Digitalisation and Value’. The dissertation analysed the consequences of the digitalisation of the film industry for European film heritage institutions (FHIs). While recognising the opportunities for FHIs afforded by digitalisation, Luca’s research stresses the sustainability challenges of such technological change for FHIs and discusses possible responses and ways forward. It examines shifting cultural policy paradigms, and connects debates within FHIs with debates in the cultural sector as a whole.

The research was supervised by Simon Popple and Professor David Hesmondhalgh. The thesis was examined by Professor Kate Oakley and Dr Luke McKernan. Before and during his time at the University of Leeds, Luca has worked in the field of film heritage, including internships at the Haghefilm Foundation (Amsterdam) and the Royal Belgian Film Archive, and work with the Pordenone Silent Film Festival and the Film Restoration and Archiving Department at ARRI Film & TV (Munich) in 2012, plus an an exchange programme at the Erasmus University (Rotterdam). Dr Luca Antoniazzi is currently working as a teaching and research assistant in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds.

Salem Erayja has been awarded a PhD for a study on ‘Information and Communications Technology (ICT) activism in authoritarian regimes: Organisation, mobilisation and context’. His thesis investigates how political activists in Saudi Arabia use new communication technologies to mobilise for their cause and build digital organisational structures in a repressive political environment where the power of religion and social traditions constrain political activities. The study is based on 30 semi-structured interviews with activists from different types of social movements and provides rare and new insights into the interplay between ICTs and collective action outside established democratic countries.

Salem’s thesis was supervised by Professor Katrin Voltmer and Dr Katy Parry. Examiners were Professor Stephen Coleman and Professor Naomi Sakr (University of Westminster). Dr Salem Erayja is now a lecturer of Journalism at the Department of Media, University of Umm Al-Qura (UQU).

Yanling Yang has been awarded a PhD in ‘Film as an instrument of China’s soft power: Practice, outcomes and dilemmas’. Her study explores how China uses film to boost its soft power as part of its ‘going out’ policy in an attempt to promote Chinese culture and values abroad. The study combines a document analysis of China’s cultural policy since 1949, semi-structured interviews with key players in China’s film industry and a secondary data analysis to measure China’s overseas activities in the area of film. The thesis arrives at a critical evaluation of the effectiveness of China’s soft power strategy that is hampered by the ruling party’s political ideology and censorship system.

Yanling’s thesis was supervised by Professor Katrin Voltmer and Professor Kate Oakley. Examiners were Simon Popple and Dr Xiaoling Zhang (University of Nottingham). Dr. Yanling Yang is now a lecturer in Marketing Communication at Leeds Business School.


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