All posts filed under: Articles

Cultivating (In)attention, Listening to Noise

by Emily Bock Featured image: Chantal Regnault, Legendary Voguer Willi Ninja wearing a Thierry Mugler body piece, 1989. Photo courtesy of the photographer. For twenty-five centuries, Western knowledge has tried to look upon the world. It has failed to understand that the world is not for the beholding. It is for hearing. It is not legible, but audible. — Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music You’ve been invited to a ball. A friend texted you the flier earlier in the day with the address and descriptions of the categories and promises they will be there “on time” (a promise you know they won’t keep). When you arrive, a little before Legends, Statements, and Stars, you meander around the room looking for your friends’ house table to put down the few things you’ve brought along with you to survive the long evening (wallet, keys, phone, lipstick) and talk to folks about things neither of you will remember tomorrow. You won’t remember, not because the conversation is lacking in wit and energy; the opposite really. …

Cracks of Productivity: The Vitality of the “flesh” in Danzad Malditos

By Irene Alcubilla Troughton “Are we not in awe of this piece of flesh called our “body,” of this aching meat called our “self” expressing the abject and simultaneously divine potency of life?” —Rosi Braidotti1 Introduction Idleness is usually seen as the opposite of productivity, with the latter term being a common imperative in our Western capitalist society. In our work, social media interactions, even in our leisure activities, we are demanded to perform, to be in a constant state of productivity. This essay will offer a perspective on idleness by analyzing the cracks of productivity and how its failures can offer novel ways of dealing with this imperative.  Throughout this essay, such an analysis will be made by looking at a case study: the Spanish theatre play Danzad Malditos, a loose adaptation of Sydney Pollack’s 1969 movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? By means of reference to the scenes, the monologues, and the way in which the performance is structured, this essay will offer a practical example of how the vitality of flesh can be presented, …

The House That Ghosts Built (And Mediums Performed)

By Paula Vilaplana de Miguel Featured image: Seances, a popular entertainment in the late 19th century, under a red light. *The following work acknowledges that the phenomenon of haunting is neither uniquely Western nor exclusively related to the Spiritualist movement. Spiritualism, as many have noted, builds on previous histories of witchcraft, mesmerism, hoodoo, divination, and other cultural precedents. Haunting is a multifaceted phenomenon that has developed differently throughout the United States territory, too. Due to the hyper-abundant and multiple forms of haunting this work centers on a very determined timeframe and location: the birth and expansion of Spiritualism in the United States’ East Coast between 1848 and 1924, and the psychic mediums that popularized it Part 1: Trance TechnologiesFurniture and Prosthetics in the Victorian Haunted House Evenings at home in Spiritualist Séance1 The room is grim. The last light of day shyly brightens the furniture of the parlor: bookcases, chintz curtains, a large sofa, and a record player. The sitters gather around a wooden table and hold hands. The séance usually starts with the Lord’s …

Black Futurities: Shape-Shifting beyond the Limits of the Human

by Hazel V. Carby Please follow each link to images, videos or sound as they occur because they are integral to the narrative. They thought they were tasting the future (which for some peopletasted like cardboard and for other people tasted like sugar).—Alexis Pauline Gumbs1 For the Africans who lived through the experience of deportation to the Americas, confronting the unknown with neither preparation nor challenge was no doubt petrifying. —Édouard Glissant2 Accumulation She was dismayed when she realized that what she wanted to imagine, what she was struggling to bring into being, now seemed beyond her reach. Was it improbable or impossible? What could she dream in a present of imminent environmental catastrophe? How could she sculpt the contours of a future when the future, any future, had been foreclosed? She read widely and absorbed what she read, which erased the last few misconceptions to which she clung. She thought she had rid her home of plastic only to find that microplastics rained down from the sky. She kept chemicals away from her house …

What’s Haunting Black Feminism?

by Alanna Prince and Alisa V. Prince Two Black Feminists Go For A Walk On a Wednesday afternoon, we walked down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, our hometown. We saw the center aisle of the street lined with older white people holding signs for Black Lives Matter and cheering each other on. Most cars passing by were honking. The sensation that we felt while passing by this scene is best characterized as when “Happy Birthday” is being sung to you, perhaps by people you don’t know very well. It’s directed at you but you just sort of wait it out awkwardly, unsure what to do with yourself until it’s over. Smile? Almost through the song and dance, a white woman walking toward us on the sidewalk stopped to share in the BLM hurrah with her peers. But moments after, as she approached us, she swiftly put her head down and ignored our hello. This is not atypical. It is a classic and frequent real life demonstration of the character of many white liberals. Their BLM fanfare …

Athazagoraphilia: On the End(s) of Dreaming

By Jerome P. Dent, Jr. In the introductory chapter of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination, entitled “When History Sleeps,” scholar and activist Robin D.G. Kelley ties his own political engagement with his mother’s “dream of a new world,” an inherited belief “that the map to a new world is in the imagination.”1 In the remainder of the text, Kelley delves into the various political and cultural manifestations of this call to map out a social-political paradigm through the conscious act of imagining—a “nowhere” or “different future.”2 Thinking through what can be called the unconscious of this act of imagining and the dreamwork that is subsequently produced, I reconsider the consequences of this production.3 What if, as Anthony Paul Farley states, the production of the dream also “does the mental work that keeps the structure from falling apart?”4 Said another way, what if an end of dreamwork is to keep the dreamers dreaming? Though this may seem to effect a call to end the dreaming, it is rather a call to sit with that which …

Get Down: Funk, Movement, and the End of the Great Migrations

By Patrick Sullivan Funk is neither an essence nor a Black metaphysics but rather should be seen as a complex musical and aesthetic form that was created by Black artists to respond to and mediate Black experience at the end of the Great Migrations (1916-1970). Beginning in the early twentieth century and lasting through the postwar period, waves of migrating Black people left the South to urban centers of the North and West Coast, fleeing racism and pursuing economic opportunities. Their movement changed the demographic landscape of the United States. By the 1960s, this social movement began to wane. The promises of mobility were short lived. Black Americans who had come to northern and western cities faced racist economic structures: White flight, deindustrialization, limited community and educational resources, and the decimation of urban neighborhoods through expansion of the highway system. The decade’s series of riots index the social and economic disparity that Black Americans endured. Cities that once offered dreams of freedom became nightmares of social constraint. The end of the Great Migrations embodies a …

Attuned Within, Attuned Without: Hazel Carby and the Lessons of Leadership

By Michelle Ann Stephens I have always been someone who is most comfortable in her head. Whether daydreaming, fantasizing or developing an idea, time spent creatively in my own mind has always come easily. In these strange times, as we all live through stay at home orders and social distancing, that aspect of this global pandemic has not been difficult—time at home, around fewer people, with less obligation to be on the move, is more time to think. One of the more difficult aspects of academia for me has been its more competitive, performative, public face. My own books and scholarship I generated from the inside out, firmly centered in myself. On the public academic stage I find myself turned outward, focused on what others may think, speaking in order to address their concerns and needs. To the observer it appears as confidence, but the inward feeling is that it is based on air. While in the privacy of my own mind my thoughts are grounding, in the public space of academia all of that …

Susceptible Archives

By Anne Anlin Cheng In Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact and Exoticism in Modern America, a study of early Asian American sociologists who contributed to the birth of the famous Chicago School of Sociology, Henry Yu addresses the paradoxes of and for racialized intellectuals engaged in the construction of counter-narratives (that are sometimes narratives of self-identification) in the service of the production of academic knowledge. He reminds us that the racialized scholar is not free from “the ethnographic imagination,” defined as the task of “making a place seem strange and then gradually replacing the confusion with knowledge that make the place and the people seem familiar enough to be understandable and perhaps even admirable.1 What Hazel Carby has done in her new book, Imperial Intimacies, is to turn this insight inside out, making us see that it is not the packageable and digestible narratives of self-identification that may be risky but rather it is the impossibilities and the fractures of a narrative of self-identification that can contest history. It is the profound self-estrangement within Carby’s project—a schism …

Studying With Hazel Carby

By Heather V. Vermeulen October 27, 2019 Dear Hazel, I’ve decided to write you a letter. When I think about being your student, I think first of our conversations—in office hours, over coffee, via email—so this makes sense to me as a form.1 You are not one for nostalgia, let alone adulation. When I read the proposed title of this special issue, my reaction was I wonder what Hazel will think about it. Specifically, I imagined you taking issue with “currency.” To my mind, that word most immediately evokes financial transactions and, in the context of academia, the commodification, marketing, and compelled speeding-up of intellectual labor. It conjures a sense of urgency, or a potentially-profitable crisis, something upon which institutions might capitalize. I thought of Barbara Christian’s “The Race for Theory.”2 (An obsolete definition of “currency” is: “Fluency; readiness of utterance; easiness of pronunciation.”3) It struck me that your work has never been current, if “current” means popular and of-the-moment—symptomatic of the times, as opposed to diagnostic, prescient, and seeking alternative futures. If I had …

On Needing Black Studies

By Kathryn A. Mariner Featured Image: Protest at RPD, Rochester NY, May 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. As I was preparing comments for this roundtable toward the end of 2018, I felt a bit like an interloper because I realized I had never—at least in my formal undergraduate and graduate training—taken a proper Black Studies class. Perhaps as a result, I approach Black Studies a bit sideways. Indeed, being relentlessly “thrown against a white background” can certainly make one feel one’s color, and can install a sort of feeling of permanent interloper status, a sense of not really fitting anywhere, disciplinarily or otherwise.1 I have more like what Katherine McKittrick has referred to as a “clandestine degree in Black Studies,” which has involved a lot of self-study (both by myself and of myself).2 As an undergraduate, I was an Anthropology major, with a minor in Spanish and Portuguese, and the bulk of my coursework was actually comprised of Latin American Studies classes. And while I took various courses on “race” in both undergrad and graduate school, …

Black Studies and the “Ideology of Relevance”

By Cilas Kemedjio Featured Image: Pool of Freedom, Washington DC, August 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. The late Professor Francis Abiola Irele (1936-2017) delivered an inaugural lecture at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria on November 22, 1982, which traditionally gave the lecturer an opportunity to intervene in a scholarly conversation; in other words, it had been a purely academic exercise. However, Irele confessed that the specific circumstances of a newly independent country such as Nigeria had impacted this academic ritual, thereby requiring the intellectual to assert the relevance of his or her discipline in the larger undertaking of national development: A sense of social fact is therefore as necessary for us as for the politician and the administrator, perhaps in fact even more so, for in this environment, such hopes are invested in us as men of knowledge that our exercise of the academic calling must need to be informed by a lively sense for the future of our society, and it entails a concern for the practical effects of our efforts upon the real world …

Being and Becoming: The Grammar of Black Theory

By Matthew Omelsky Featured Image: Protester at the Rochester Public Safety Building, June 2020. Photo by Martin Hawk, part of Pressure Gradient. There’s a place in her 2009 essay, “Becoming Modern Racialized Subjects,” when Hazel Carby’s focus feels very much of our moment. Reading a series of early passages in The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, Carby notes how, in the encounter with his European captors on the West African coast, a young Equiano is transformed into a kind of nothingness. In the moment of his racialization, she suggests, Equiano is rendered “cargo,” he’s “dehumanized.” “Terror and anguish follow Equiano’s realization of the fragility, vulnerability and possible annihilation of the self, and movement, speech and consciousness cease, registering his symbolic death.”1 The entirety of Equiano’s narrative is a kind of writing back to this moment of dehumanization, so that he might become something other than the abject, annihilated being he became in that inaugural encounter. He exudes, Carby goes on to say, a “constant urge to move beyond” the “body politics of …

Black Studies in Haudenosaunee Country

By Brianna Theobald Featured Image: Two young Mexican-American protesters at the 2020 Indigenous People’s Day rally at the Seneca town of Canawaugus. Photograph courtesy of Michael Leroy Oberg. In January 2019, the University of Rochester hosted a “Black Studies Now” roundtable, in which faculty members, joined by the distinguished feminist scholar Hazel Carby, assessed the current state of Black Studies at UR and imagined its future. The University of Rochester is located on the ancestral homelands of the Seneca nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy; today, the university sits within a few hours of multiple Indian reservations. Carby alluded to this geography—and the exigencies of place—when she emphasized the importance of thinking through issues around indigeneity as we chart the future of Black Studies. What does it mean to think through issues of indigeneity? What does the concept of indigeneity offer Black Studies? We might begin with a definition. In colloquial terms, indigeneity generally refers to the status of being original—or native—to a particular place. International organizations have added greater specificity, even as they typically avoid …

Extirpation is Not an Option: An Esperantic Vision of a Future for Black Studies from the Other Side of the Pacific

by Will Bridges Featured Image: Protestors on the steps of Rochester City Hall, September 7, 2020. Photo by Quajay Donnell. The promise is of “world-wide welcome” for the homeless and those yearning to breathe free. But Trump has no words of welcome for black folks from shithole countries, and he wonders why we can’t court more émigrés from countries like Norway. And, as if to prove he’s lost both rhyme and reason, he removes us from the Paris Agreement, even as the Institute for Environmental and Human Security of the United Nations warns that the world might see some one billion environmental migrants by 2050, with the peoples of Africa deemed “particularly susceptible” to climate displacement.1 But Elon Musk thinks we’ll be on Mars by then—by 2024, to be exact. For it is imperative that we, in this Musky vision of the future, become a “multiplanetary” species. But who, exactly, is the “we” here, and would this “we” be naïve to assume that “multiethnic” lies somewhere dormant and tacit but vowed within the multiplanetary? Musk …

The National Archives

By Hazel V. Carby Featured image: Windrush Stories exhibition at the British Library, 2018. Photo courtesy of Leon van Kemenade. I dressed conservatively; I did not appear to be a disruptive or unruly researcher. I was indistinguishable from the others who arrived at the National Archives early in the morning and who stood, patiently, waiting for the doors to open while swans, graceful in their every movement, nuzzled the weeds underwater. As they raised their long necks and droplets of water rolled on the surface of feather, I became aware of my own poor posture and straightened my spine. We who left late in the evening passed through doors that rapidly closed behind us, and did not notice swans. We marched together to and from the Kew Gardens Tube station everyday carrying computers and clutching umbrellas, too intent on our work to acknowledge each other with more than a brief incline of the head and half-smile. After leaving the locker room and climbing the stairs, all similarity with my fellow travelers ceased: they seem to parse the same historical manuscripts …

“Negros, aquí? Blacks, here?”: Blackness in the Mexican Archive

By Pablo Miguel Sierra Silva Featured image: Black Lives Matter, Washington DC, August 2020, Copyright Erica Jae. “If someone I found disappeared without explanation from a subsequent record, I hoped they ran, ran fast and far and re-named themselves so as to be forever hidden from capture by former owners and the archives.”—Hazel Carby, “The National Archives”1 I have a vexed relationship with colonial archives, especially those located in Puebla, Mexico, my hometown. For the better part of the last fourteen years, I have struggled with Puebla’s archives, with what they reveal and conceal. My work has focused on the intersection of slavery, freedom, urban spaces, blackness, and the social relations that gave meaning to all of the above. I have drawn deeply from the archive of the seventeenth century and am conscious of the violence embedded within it and cognizant of the dehumanization it enabled. And yet, I cannot help but wonder what Afro-Poblano history would be without the colonial archive. Indeed, in the wake of Professor Hazel Carby’s visit to the University of …

Archival-Futurism: Archives as Social Justice

By Miranda Mims Featured image: Inscriptions at MLK Park community installation “The Empire Strikes Black,” created by public artist Shawn Dunwoody. Photo by Quajay Donnell. There should be a space for alternative realities, alternative ways of knowing, in the archive. There should be room for imagining a world in which justice not injustice triumphed. —Hazel V. Carby, “The National Archives”1 As an archivist, reading Hazel Carby’s “The National Archives” is a reminder to me of the precedent on which archives were built, and the continual work we in the profession have towards transforming archival practices to reflect a social justice framework. Archives are spaces of truth and understanding as much as they are about secrecy and erasure. That which has been documented and preserved within a repository is so often duplicitous. Although archival practices have evolved, becoming more inclusive, the history of privileging the elite or powerful is still deeply entrenched in societal forms of racial and economic inequity and cultural hegemony. Archives are typically a reflection of the society in which they exist. Careful …

Image of the Playsaurus, Clicker Heroes 2014 video game.

Wait Wait… Don’t Play Me: The Clicker Game Genre and Configuring Everyday Temporalities

By Oscar Moralde “We do not say that we have learnt, and that anything is made new or beautiful by mere lapses of time; for we regard time itself as destroying rather than producing, for what is counted in time is movement, and movement dislodges whatever it affects from its present state.”1 “The Time Machine brings cookies from the past, before they were even eaten.”2 Game genre, duration, and the flow of the everyday Video game aesthetics extend beyond the sights and sounds encoded into datasets for electronic processing into the audiovisual worlds of player experience. They even extend beyond the feel and feelings produced by the cybernetic intersubjective assemblage of player and game at the threshold of the interface, which has become an important site of inquiry for game studies scholars.3 Game aesthetics are strongly situated aesthetics: spatial and temporal contexts not only shape the meanings that players take away from gameplay experience, but they also determine the form and types of experience that unfold in play. For example, in Hamlet on the Holodeck, …

The Kinesthetic Index: Video Games and the Body of Motion Capture

Written by Grant Bollmer In this essay, I present a history of the graphic adventure genre of video and computer games and its attempts at achieving a kind of cinematic realism through the registration of the body. In reviewing the history of this genre, I contextualize some early attempts to use motion capture and rotoscoping to incorporate human bodies into games, arguing that representation in games and other forms of digital media should be conceived not as deferring to the visual, but as reliant on the kinesthetic. While the visual presence of a human body may no longer be a coherent source of any link between a representation and physical reality, motion brings together digital images with the reality inscribed into media. This involves numerous questions about realism, indexicality, and affect, which I aim to intertwine and unfold below. In making this argument, I demonstrate three things. First, digital images are condensations of specific—if multiple—bodies that persist as representations that have some link with the physical world.1 Second, realism in games has long relied on …

Pokémon Korosu In-Game Screenshots

Playful (Counter)Publics: Game Mods as Rhetorical Forms of Active and Subversive Player Participation

By Nicole Kurashige Introduction Though most digital humanities scholars readily agree that game developers need to offer more progressive functions and options to enhance player agency, such recommendations for further research or action often ignore how players are already able to enact their agency in spaces beyond the game itself. Online gaming forums serve as hotbeds of active player participation and (counter)public discourse.1 Players seeking to expand their agency within games can do so via modifications (referred to hereafter as “mods”).2 Mods, which are collaboratively developed in such online forums by players for players, are digital compositions that can alter the code of a game in various ways, thereby opening up more possibility spaces for players without having to wait for developer intervention. Players, thus, challenge, resist, and subvert the procedural rhetoric encoded in a game by exhibiting their agency through the creation, distribution, and use of these mods. Mods and their related modding communities have been around for decades, but, surprisingly, little to no research has been done to examine their rhetorical significance. This …

The Monster Has Kind Eyes: Intimacy and Frustration in The Last Guardian

By Kaelan Doyle-Myerscough The Last Guardian is a 2016 single-player adventure game that follows the relationship between an unnamed young boy and a giant gryphon-like creature, referred to as Trico, as they navigate the ruins of an ancient, apparently technologically-advanced civilization.1 The player controls the boy, who is small and weak—he is incapable of fighting the ghostly suits of armor that he and Trico encounter throughout the game, and he often cannot physically traverse the massive, vertical ruins in which the game takes place without falling or stumbling. Meanwhile, Trico, who accompanies the boy, protects him from danger and is essentially impervious to harm; however, Trico is vulnerable to hunger, distraction, fear, and to the lingering effects of traumas it has apparently suffered at the hands of something in the ruins. The boy and Trico, neither fully able to traverse the space they find themselves in, must work together to locate food, overcome obstacles, and defeat enemies. Critical and audience responses to The Last Guardian were mixed: though the game was praised for its map …

“I’m controlling and composing”: The role of metacognition in The Incredible Machine

By Marc Ouellette1 Up, up and away: Introduction The mouse sets the bowling ball in motion, which falls and squeezes the bellows, which sends out a puff of air, which sends the balloon into the gears that are connect by a belt to another mouse’s exercise wheel. The balloon pops. Having learned how this routine functions, I then move my mouse to connect the rest of the on-screen mice so that the pulleys of all of the caged mice spin with their wheels to finish the puzzle in time allowing me to move to the next level. Eventually, I will be able to make my own versions of Rube Goldberg machines turned into puzzles based on what I have seen and learned in playing through the eighty challenges provided for Mort the mouse, Bob the fish, and me. Although it is more than twenty-five years old, by teaching about games, learning through games, and learning itself,  The Incredible Machine (Dynamix, 1992) continues to defy several key deterministic viewpoints about video games. Said another way, The …

Us, THEM, and High-Risk Dancing

By Tiffany E. Barber In darkness, a live, punk-influenced sound score saturates a converted sixty-nine-seat black box theater in New York’s Lower East Side. The source: electric guitarist Chris Cochrane positioned upstage right.1 Upstage left, a spotlight illuminates two young male dancers from above. One sits in a chair and the other kneels, dressing bandages on the first dancer’s right knee. They wear cool-colored tank tops, loose-fitting khaki pants, and sneakers. Writer Dennis Cooper recites a text in an uninflected monotone alongside the dancers’ initial movements, cuing the piece’s sociopolitical implications: I saw them once. I don’t know when, or who they were because they were too far away. But I remember things, like what they wore, which wasn’t anything special—pants, shirts, regular colors—stuff I’ve seen thousands of times since. I wanted them to know something. I cupped my hands around my mouth and thought about yelling out. But they wouldn’t have heard me. Besides, I didn’t belong there.2 This opening scene sets the stage for Ishmael Houston-Jones’s THEM, an improvised composition at the intersection …

Loss of Control, Control over Loss: A Posthumanist Reading of Lars and the Real Girl and Black Mirror’s “Be Right Back”

By Prerna Subramanian “To define what is real is to define what is human, if you care about humans. If you don’t you are schizoid…and the way I see it, an android: that is, not human and hence not real.”- Philip K Dick quoted by N Katherine Hayles in How We Became Posthuman The idea that any discussion pertaining to what is human and what is not, matters only “if you care about humans” is an important connection this article probes further into.1 This particular prerequisite to defining what is human is significant to understanding how relationships, emotions, sentiments have often formed the field where arguments in favour of and against human exceptionalism have been played out. Human exceptionalism or the tendency to categorically put humans on a different pedestal than other beings has been a crucial tenet through which posthumanist scholars often ruminate over the idea of human, inhuman, non-human and investigate the boundaries between these categories. What posthumanist scholars tend to grapple with in their work is the idea of whether there is …

‘Making things glow with their own light’: Love, Documentary Witness and the Endless Search in Nostalgia for the Light

By Laurel Ahnert   The luster and gleam of the stone, though itself apparently glowing only by the grace of the sun, first bring to radiance the light of the day, the breadth of the sky, the darkness of the night. The temple’s firm towering makes visible the invisible space of air. —Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”   Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are […] What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more. —Susan Sontag, Against Interpretation and Other Essays   Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light (2010) begins with a black screen and the sound of metal gliding against metal. A series of close-ups show the internal machinations of a large interstellar telescope, which creaks and groans as it rotates slowly before banging loudly into place. The camera looks up at the high, domed ceiling of the observatory. Two sliding doors scrape open to reveal a large …

Crisis of Invasion: Militaristic Language and the Legitimization of Identity and Place

By Emma Lansdowne On May 9, 2016, the alt-right news site Bugout News published an article entitled “It’s OFFICIAL: We’re Being Invaded By Illegal Immigrants And What Obama Has Reaped, We Will Sow,” in which the author declares that millions of Americans are “sick and tired of being forced to witness and accept a massive invasion of third-world poor into their country.”1This message of crisis, writes J. Dougherty under the web name Usafeaturesmedia, is a direct reflection of and signals agreement with the anti-immigration message put forth during the presidential campaign by current U.S. President, Donald J. Trump. 2 Trump’s hard-line campaign proposals on border control became a rallying cry for right-wing Americans who remain suspicious of asylum-seekers and view illegal immigration as one of the greatest threats not simply to national security, but to nationhood itself. Conservative journalist Pat Buchanan neatly summarized this position on the public affairs program The McLaughlin Group in early January 2016 when he warned that “if the invasion of Europe and the United States are not stopped, these — the …

Visibility in Crisis: Configuring Transparency and Opacity in We Are Here’s Political Activism

by Christian Sancto Fig. 1. We Are Here, Homeless on the street in the cold and rain after the eviction of camp Osdorp, Autumn 2012. Courtesy of the artists’ collective. We Are Here is the vehicle by which a group of Amsterdam-based refugees attempts to make visible the conditions of crisis that envelope its members’ lives. The group is comprised of refugees whose applications for asylum in the Netherlands are, for various reasons, no longer in process. Although they remain living in the Netherlands, they have no means of income, since they are not permitted to work. At the same time the government does not provide them with housing, forcing the group to move from squatted building to squatted building, or simply to live on the streets. The refugees formed We Are Here in September 2012 to provide them with a means for having their existence in the Netherlands recognized through collective action. The group’s website recounts that it emerged from an impetus to “make themselves visible” by “start[ing] a demonstration.”1 As interest in the group …

Four Times ‘Egyptian Identity:’ Mural collaboration as dissent in times of crisis

by alma aamiry-khasawnih Figure 1: Multiple artists, Egyptian Identity, June-July 2013, paint, spray, metal, found objects, and wood, 82 ff x 13 ft (25 m x 4 m). Qasr El-Nil Street, Cairo, Egypt. (Photograph: Abdelrhman Zin Eldin) A mural 25 meters long and four meters high stands at the end of Qasr El-Nil Street in downtown Cairo, only three blocks away from the famous Midan El-Tahrir (Tahrir Square) and Mohamed Mahmoud Street where Egyptian protestors lived and died demanding the fall of the regime starting on January 25, 2011. The sunset sky of white and blue with hints of red and orange forms the background for a portrait of a young fallaha (rural) girl with flowers in her braided hair, looking into the distance contemplating her past, present, and future. Beside her is a poem: “When I first opened my eyes, and before my mother knew me, they applied kohl (eyeliner) to my eyes reaching my temples so I can look like your statues.”1 She is surrounded by metal sculptures, hybrid figures, human and non-human, with …

“La Bola de Cristal”: Puerto Rican Meme Production in Times of Austerity and Crisis

by Caroline Gil-Rodríguez Sky is a sea of darkness, when there is no sun Sky is a sea of darkness, When there is no sun to light the way When there is no sun to light the way There is no day There is no day There’s only darkness Eternal Sea of Darkness. — Sun Ra Puerto Rico, a US Territory with a population of 3.474 million people, that is neither a sovereign nation nor state of the union. The island is currently in the midst of an ongoing financial crisis with an accrued debt of over $73 billion and $49 billion in pension obligations, the largest economic insolvency in the history of the United States. The fiscal crisis has seen an abundance of meme trends that unveil the frustrations of the citizenry after decades of corruption, react to the recent imposition of a Fiscal Control Board, and draw on the island’s thorny history as a colony of the U.S. Who else, but a godless Richard Dawkins to coin the term “meme”? The evolutionary biologist and …