Laurence Herfs is a PhD candidate in the Department of Media and Culture Studies and part of the NWO funded project Virtual Reality as Empathy Machine: Media, Migration and the Humanitarian Predicament. She conducts research into the representation of refugees, migrants and the suffering Other within immersive and VR media technologies. For this project, she draws on media theory in conjunction with discourse analysis, cultural analysis and postcolonial studies, in order to offer a comprehensive qualitative analysis of VR productions produced in the past decade with the focus on how VR collapses the division between spectator and distant sufferer. She examines the implications of this from a critical media perspective as well as postcolonial and intersectional perspective. This research is supervised by Prof. dr. Sandra Ponzanesi and dr. Wouter Oomen.
Laurence’s academic background is in game studies, cultural analysis and visual media studies. She previously taught in the minor game studies at Leiden University, where she specialised in Japanese video game productions. Laurence also holds a BFA from The Royal Academy of Arts in Fine Arts.