Category Archives: American University

Social Impact Talks

The Department of Anthropology’s Social Impact Talks (formerly “Social Justice Colloquium”) is an exciting weekly speaker series highlighting cutting edge scholarship dedicated to social justice and impacting society beyond the academy. The Social Impact Talks series provides an informal setting where speakers share new work and works-in- progress. Audience members are encouraged to be active participants and to engage the speakers in an exciting intellectual exchange.

Speakers include anthropologists, scholars in other disciplines, and people working outside academia to build social justice and progressive change.

The Social Impact Talks take place Tuesdays, 4-5pm, beginning September 12, 2017, and continue until the first week in May 2018 (except when noted). Please join us for these exciting discussions.

These events are free and open to everyone. All are welcome!  Coffee, tea, and light snacks will be served.

Social Impact Talks Spring 2018

Unless otherwise noted, all talks are on Tuesdays, 4-5 pm, at the Humanities Lab, Battelle-Tompkins 228


  January 30, 2018: Chelsi Slotten (AU Anthropology/Women in Archaeology Podcast): “Podcasting and the Public: Leveraging Digital Media to Make Your Work Matter”

As scholars we all believe the work we do is important, and want it to have an impact on the wider world.  However, we sometimes struggle with bridging the gap between what we know, and making an impact with what we know.  Many factors contribute to this difficulty, but a major factor that can be fairly easily addressed is accessibility.  While the Open Access movement has helped to make our work more accessible, there are still many barriers to truly reaching the general public.  This talk will focus on how podcasts can be used to reach and engage with a broader audience.  I will briefly discuss the founding of the Women in Archaeology Podcast, identify issues of accessibility with traditional modes of academic knowledge dispersal, discuss the benefits of podcasting as a mode of communication, and look at how to successfully run or participate in a podcast.

 February 6, 2018: Kalfani Ture’ (Yale University) [CANCELLED]





 February 13, 2018: Arvenita Cherry (AU Anthropology): “Creating Anti-Racist Classrooms and Supporting Educators in Building Equitable and Inclusive Environments for Learning—An Example of Public Anthropology”   




February 20, 2018: Abdülhamit Bilici and Ori Z. Soltes: “Press Freedom, Human Rights, and Democracy in Turkey”

Turkey experienced an unprecedented economic growth and reform in every aspect of life during the last decade after years of economic and political instability. It was thought to be a model for the Islamic world for the peaceful existence of a secular system in an Muslim majority society. This picture started to change with the mass protests of 2013. Within the last 4 years the country experienced a now suppressed corruption probe, a failed coup attempt, and significant erosion of rights and freedoms that exist in a functioning democracy. How did Turkey come to this low point from being a success story? What are the sociological, political, economic, regional, and global factors that led to rising authoritarianism and a pivot away from its traditional allies? In short, the speakers will discuss the factors behind the rise and fall of Turkey in the last decade with a look towards its future.

February 27, 2018: Amanda Huron (University of the District of Columbia): “Stewards in the City, or, How to Give Away a Multi-Million-Dollar Building without Losing Your Soul”

In 2016, a community church in Washington, D.C. decided to close its doors. Founded fifty years earlier as a neighborhood-based, social justice-focused Christian community, the Community of Christ had owned a building in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, which they called La Casa, since 1974. Over the decades, they’d opened the building to a wide array of community uses, and La Casa had become an important neighborhood center. So when the church decided to shut down — membership had dropped, and they wanted to end things intentionally, rather than wither away — one of the decisions they needed to make was what to do with La Casa. My research is the story of the Community of Christ’s remarkable process of determining what to do with this building, and the story of how they would ultimately give it away in order to further the cause of social justice in the neighborhood it had long served. In this work, I think through the Community’s decision through the lens of stewardship. To steward a resource is to care for it, both for its present use, and also with an eye towards how it can continue to be used in the future, by people who may be as yet unknown. To steward is to recognize that one person’s, or group’s, use of a resource is only every temporary: resources — buildings, land, water, air — outlast the lives of the humans and organizations that use them. The example of the Community of Christ, I hope, may stimulate new ways of thinking about stewarding resources for collective use in the midst of the grinding capitalist city.

March 6, 2018: Laurel Mei-Singh (Princeton University American Studies): “Island on the Axis: Military Fences and Oceanic Indigeneity in Hawai’i”

While Hawai‘i functions as the command center for US military operations from India to California, this presentation contends that the military does not impose unilateral hegemony on the islands. Rather, Hawaiian paradigms and practices premised on human-environment interconnectivity persist and thrive, shaping the landscape of a highly militarized place and posing an ongoing threat to US territorial domination. In response, the military partitioning of land aims to regulate and contain indigenous environmental practices that continue to yield viable alternatives to capitalism and war. As I show, starting in World War II, the fencing and partitioning of land produced carceral geographies that constitute a central strategy of US occupation. The martial law that followed the Pearl Harbor bombing enclosed land where people fished and grew food to eat, and unfurled a spatialized security infrastructure that continues to police people in Hawai‘i to this day. In sum, this presentation aims to illuminate a theory of indigenous resistance both against and in the shadows of a militarized carceral state.


March 20, 2018:“Terrorism and the Colonial Present in North Eastern Kenya” Zoltán Glück (Graduate Center, CUNY Anthropology)

This talk will examine at the campaign to reopen Garissa University College, in North Eastern Kenya, in the wake of the terrorist attack that killed 148 students and staff there in 2015. I place the Garissa attack and the campaign to reopen the university within the context of the historical marginalization and violence against Ethnic Somalis in the region. Through an analysis of the contradictions of activism within field of security, I look at how the long shadows of colonialism and the Shifta War are today transformed and reassembled today under the auspices of counter-terrorism. In doing so, I analyze how the War on Terror operates to expand the repressive powers the postcolonial state, here through internal colonization and the resurrection of the erstwhile colonial “frontier zone.


March 27, 2018: Elissa Margolin (AU Health Studies): “Mindfulness in Education: Authentic Teaching & Optimal Learning”

Given the overwhelming levels of stress and anxiety among students today, including at AU, evidence shows that mindfulness practices are providing many solutions.  Learn the role of mindfulness to: inspire more authentic, present teaching; cultivate deeper receptivity to learning; bolster the foundation for more courageous dialogue and enhance values of tolerance and inclusiveness; create more meaningful connections in the classroom; alleviate stress; and optimize the learning environment for all.  Experience practical tools that you can implement for yourself and share with your students.


April 3, 2018: Jeanne Hanna (Au Anthropology) “‘Radical Islam Could Be the Thing We Use to Distinguish Ourselves’: The Role of Race and Racism in the Fate of Post-Referendum Ukip”

I plan to lead a discussion examining some of the discursive strategies that activists in the UK Independence Party use to distance themselves from their party’s reputation for racism and xenophobia while simultaneously affirming their affinity for an exclusionary understanding of British racial, cultural, and national identity. In this discussion I hope to grant particular attention to how competing ideas about race, religion, and culture fomented ongoing conflicts among UKIP’s supporters following the group’s success in the June 2016 EU Referendum.


April 10, 2018: Amelia Tseng (Georgetown University, Linguistics and American University, School of Education) “Who decides who belongs? Deconstructing essentialism and authenticity in raciolinguistic discourses by and about immigrants”

Despite increased recognition of constructivist and intersectional approaches to identity in academia and the public sphere over recent decades, essentialist ideologies which reduce identity to imposed categories of race and ethnicity, indexed by language and nationality, retain pervasive hegemonic force. This discussion will examine how monolithic understandings of race, ethnicity, and culture, and ideologies of “one nation, one language, one people” are simultaneously imposed by the majority culture and perpetuated/resisted within minority communities, with implications for intergenerational family relations, cultural continuity, and heritage language loss. The discussion will also interrogate theoretical and methodological implications for social science and humanities research paradigms. Examples will be drawn from two diasporic sites where dynamic raciolinguistic identities challenge simplistic assumptions about race, language, and identity: Washington, D.C.’s Latino/African American contact, and Peruvian Chinese in Lima.

April 17, 2018: Denise Brennan (Georgetown University Anthropology) “Undocumented: Field Research from Migrant Communities inside the 100-Mile Border Zone”

This talk draws from field research in migrant communities inside the 100-Mile Border Zone (an enhanced immigration enforcement zone) as well as from communities deep within the interior of the United States. The border may not be everywhere, but it’s policing is. The talk will test drive ideas that will undergird a new book I’m writing Undocumented: Criminalizing Everyday Life in the United States. Undocumented asks what it’s like to live with the everyday threat of deportation? It spotlights the lived experience of criminalization and being “wanted” as well as how undocumented individuals counter such surveillance with community organizing.


April 24, 2018: Salvador Vidal-Ortiz, (AU SOCY) “Latinx as a Site of Exclusion? (or the limits of inclusivity)” 

A common assumption is that Latinx as a term is a most inclusive one and, while it may not roll off one’s tongue easily (you think that’s hard? try it in Spanish!), the result of its implementation should be a series of openings, instead of a closing off of conversations about identity, political categories, and ethno-racial nomenclatures. As AU, academe, and the general public get exposed to the use of the term “Latinx,” we face the task of reconciling the historical doings and undoings of “Hispanic” and “Latina/o” with the Latinx term. I am interested not just in the trace of these categories, but in what they do, who they serve, and what ethnicized and (de)racialized readings flow from such decisions. With this talk, I seek to question the implicit assumptions of the primary extremes of the public debates about the use of Latinx: gender queer inclusion, or language imperialism/imposition. The open question with the newly (almost uncritically) insertion of the term Latinx is whether we can maximize its capacity for diversification, including gender (and perhaps sexuality), without leaving behind racial components, and thus leaving power dynamics uninterrogated.


Join us for one event or for the whole series!

Check out pictures from our events below:

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Black Feminism

Join us for a lecture by Catherine Knight Steele  (Department of Communication, University of Maryland)  on how black women utilize online blogging platforms in celebration and critique, in the process becoming an important counterpublic.

Black Joy and Resistance: Black Feminist Discourse Online

Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 1 pm at 228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall

Dr. Steele’s latest project, and the topic of this lecture, is on digital black feminism and how the affordances of new media technology are shaping black feminist discourse online. She provides critical analysis of the digital culture of black and white feminist thought in the blogs  Jezebel and For Harriet, by examining what happens when the subject, the black body, at least temporarily does not exist as an ‘other’ but is squarely within a context that allows it to be merely a body.
As Jessie Daniels explains, “the Internet offers a “safe space” and a way to not just survive, but also resist, repressive sex/gender regimes. Girls and self-identified women are engaging with Internet technologies in ways that enable them to transform their embodied selves, not escape embodiment.”




About our speaker

Dr. Catherine Knight Steele is a scholar of race, gender and media with specific focus on African American culture and discourse in traditional and new media. She is a native Chicagoan and received her Ph.D. in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research has appeared in the Howard Journal of Communications and the book Intersectional Internet (S.U. Noble and B. Tynes Eds.) Her doctoral dissertation, Digital Barbershops, focused heavily on the black blogosphere and the politics of online counterpublics. She examines representations of marginalized communities in the media and how traditionally marginalized populations resist oppression and utilize online technology to create spaces of community. She is currently working on a monograph about digital black feminism and new media technologies. Dr. Steele also serves as the first Project Director for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded College of Arts and Humanities grant, Synergies among Digital Humanities and African American History and Culture.
“I consider myself a digital black feminist, often exploring the “shades of grey” between media consumption and media critique as black female activist scholar.”

Check out Dr. Steele’s website to learn more about her work.

Revolutions | 2017-2018

Each year the Humanities Lab undertakes an investigation of a specific question or topic. For the 2017-2018 academic year we are investigating the concept of revolution, especially focusing on interdisciplinary cultural, technological, and political perspectives.

Join us for one event or for the whole series! All events are free and open to the public.


Culture, Technology, Politics

Our investigation for this year is anchored by two anniversaries of important historical and cultural events: the 100 years of the Russian Revolution in October 1917, and the 200 years of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in January 1818. Our lectures focus on political transformation, technological bodies, revolution, perception, and art.

Spring 2018:

Frankenstein and Romantic Science

Richard Sha, Deparment of Literature, American University 

Wednesday February 7, 2018, 1 pm



Metastable Demons: The Otherworldly Operators of the 20th Century

Jimena Canales, History of Science, University of Illinois & Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Wednesday March 7, 2018, 1 pm



Digital Complexity: On the Circulation of Special Effects

Oliver Gaycken, Deparment of English, University of Maryland 

Wednesday April 4, 2018, 1 pm





Fall 2017:

Revolutionizing Perception

Arthur Shapiro, Departments of Psychology and Computer Science, American University

Wednesday September 20, 2017, 1 pm



Body Modern: Fritz Kahn, Medical Illustration and the Visual Rhetoric of Modernity 1915-1960

Michael Sappol, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala University

Wednesday October 4, 2017, 1 pm



100 years Ago Today: The Russian Revolution

Eric Lohr, Departmentt of History, American University

Wednesday October 25, 2017, 1 pm



Black Joy and Resistance: Black Feminist Discourse Online

Catherine Knight Steele, Deparment of Communication, University of Maryland

Wednesday November 8, 2017, 1 pm





Revolutionizing Perception

“Illusions fascinate people because they create a conflict between perception and reality.”

Join us for a lecture by Professor Arthur Shapiro (Department of Psychology and Computer Science, American University) on visual illusions and the complex processes of human perception.

Revolutionizing Perception 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 1 pm at 228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall


Have you ever seen the Duck-Rabbit illusion? It is an image that people see and interpret differently, sometimes seeing the rabbit, sometimes the duck, sometimes both at the same time. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein used this image to describe the problem of perception as “seeing that” (“It’s a rabbit”) and “seeing as” (“I see this picture as a rabbit”). In this accessible and fun lecture, Artur Shapiro will explore the difference between what we see and how we understand and interpret what we see, by using examples from his current laboratory research and award winning  visual illusions.



About our speaker

Arthur Shapiro completed his undergraduate work in Mathematics (Computer Science) and Psychology (Cognitive Science) at U.C. San Diego. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University and did post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. He has been interested in illusions ever since his parents first took him to a science museum.  He started producing research related to illusions in 2002, following a sabbatical year at the University of Cambridge. In addition to his research, Shapiro is currently co-editing The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions. In addition to being an academic, Shapiro is also a vision scientist and an internationally acclaimed creator of visual illusions. Many of his illusions have won awards in the “Best Visual Illusion of the Year” contest, sponsored by the Neural Correlate Society. The contest started in 2005, and since then Shapiro’s lab has produced twelve illusions in the top ten, and six illusions in the top three—more than any other researcher or research team.  The National Geographic show Brain Games has featured several of Shapiro’s illusions.




Visit Shapiro’s website to experience some of his illusions. Also, check out The Oxford Compendium of Visual Illusions:









Here are some great pictures from the event. Click here for the full album.

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The Energy of Objects: Loving and Loathing Our Material Things

In this engaging and creative discussion, writer and cultural critic Arielle Bernstein explores the emotional power of objects, from everyday things to precious mementos and historical documents.

March 1, 2017, 1 pm at 228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall


Arielle Bernstein learned the value of preserving material things from her Cuban-Jewish mother, who grew up under Fidel Castro, and whose own parents had immigrated from to Havana from Poland to escape the Holocaust. Clutter was seen as a source of warmth and comfort, from the cans of Café Bustelo that her mother would save for storage growing up, to the useful gifts of socks, toothbrushes, and jars of peanut butter, that her parents still bring her when they come to visit. Yet the messages she received from mainstream American culture taught her a different narrative, one in which clutter was seen as a source of shame, rather than joy. From advertisements that tell consumers they’ll be happier abandoning their old shoes, handbags, and electronics for the latest trend, to salacious shows like Hoarders that emphasize the way that unchecked keeping can manifest as mental illness, to spring cleaning articles in magazines that encourage readers to purge many of the same items they sold them over Christmas, American culture is consumed by both the allure and danger of material possessions.

In her book-in-progress CHASING EMPTY-AN AMERICAN HISTORY OF LOVING AND LOATHING OUR MATERIAL THINGS, Bernstein argues that today’s minimalist trend has been co-opted into just the latest consumer trend, one that sells products meant to replace old things with new ones, rather than simply scale back. While Marie Kondo and many other online minimalist gurus earnestly urge consumers to change their attitude towards material things, the advent of new minimalist products, from tiny houses, to minimalist shoes, to minimalist toothbrushes, has transformed minimalism into yet another consumable product.

This talk will offer a rich and compassionate look at the challenges of deciding which things to keep and which things to discard, and how the way in which minimalism has been co-opted by consumer culture ends up obscuring the power of preserving and valuing the things we choose to keep.

About our speaker

Arielle Bernstein is a writer, professor, and cultural critic who lives in Washington, DC and has been teaching in AU’s Writing Studies Program since 2008. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic , Slate Magazine, Salon, and The Rumpus, among other publications. She is represented by Christopher Rhodes at The Stuart Agency.

You can find her personal narratives and book, film reviews up at The Rumpus and  The Millions.

Additionally, her fiction has been featured in PANK 10Literary Orphans,  The PuritanThe Rattling Wall Issue 4Connotation Press and many other journals.


Follow her on Twitter: @NotoriousREL



Sin Nombre

How can we understand the experiences of people whose lives have become radically displaced or deterritorialized?In this lecture, Professor Ricardo Ortiz discusses displacement in the film Sin Nombre.

Fables of De-Patriation: Undocumented Others in Cary Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre

Ricardo Ortiz
Wednesday March 25, 2014, 3 p.m.
Battelle-Tompkins 228

About our speaker

Ricardo Ortiz is associate professor of US Latino Literature and Culture at Georgetown University. His work focuses on hemispheric, transnational “Américas” Studies, cultural studies, and race, gender and queer theory. For this talk, he discusses the representation of migration and violence in the film Sin Nombre (Cary Fukunaga, 2009), which follows illegal immigrants and escaping gang members on the dangerous train journey from Honduras, through Mexico, to the United States. Combining fictional and documentary elements, and filming in real locations with real people, the film becomes an emotional testament of migration and displacement. A film screening will be scheduled for early March.

Sin Nombre 

Sin Nombre is a film directed by Cary Fukunaga, featuring the character(s) Sayra (Paulina Gaitan), a Honduran teen, hungers for a better life. Her chance for one comes when she is reunited with her long-estranged father, who intends to emigrate to Mexico and then enter the United States. Sayra’s life collides with a pair of Mexican gangmembers (Edgar Flores, Kristyan Ferrer) who have boarded the same American-bound train.


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The Humanities Truck

How do we transform the landscape around us through stories, images, memories, and experiences? In this discussion, Professor Dan Kerr introduces an innovative project for truly mobilizing the humanities!

The Humanities Truck 

Dan Kerr, Nina Shapiro-Perl, Juliana Martinez
Wednesday April 8, 2014, 1 p.m.
Battelle-Tompkins 228



How do we mobilize the humanities, and connect with the community in ways that are innovative, uncharted, and truly on the move? Functioning as a mobile workshop, recording studio, and exhibit space, the Humanities Truck will document experiences, start conversations, and share the stories of diverse, underserved communities in the Washington, DC, region. For this lunchtime roundtable discussion, the interdisciplinary team of faculty behind this exciting project will present their first projects and aims. As an experimental mobile platform for collecting, preserving, and expanding dialogue around the humanities, the Humanities Truck will work with specific micro-communities throughout the region, in order to recognize and enhance the existing cultural creativity in communities that are typically devalued, and foster imaginative new ways of addressing community challenges in the midst of rapid urban change.


Update, 2018: The Humanities Truck Project began as an idea that was cultivated by one of the Humanities Lab’s very first working groups.  Today the Lab and the Truck work closely together to mobilize the humanities at American University and throughout Washington, DC.  To find out more about the current initiatives and projects related to the Humanities Truck  please visit their new website:











How do we transform the landscape around us through stories, images, memories, and experiences? Join us for a lecture by David Pike on new urban geographies.

Geocaching: An Interdisciplinary Community Project

Wednesday, February 11th, 2014

12 p.m.
Battelle-Tompkins 228





For this project Professor Pike is introducing the AU community to geocaching, a collaborative project that connects physical and virtual space. Using mobile apps and maps, students from participating classes will “seed” the American University campus and other locations in the DC area with geocaches, and invite the community to find and respond to these hidden treasure troves. In addition to physical artifacts, historical materials, and clues for more interaction, geocaches will include stories, poems, and artwork, and elements that are real, imaginary, past, or lost. After the introductory lecture and workshop, follow-up events will extend this project throughout the semester— with the participation of graduate and undergraduate students and faculty from multiple departments and programs including literature, public history, world languages and cultures, art history, creative writing, arts management, college writing, film and visual media, philosophy and religion, graphic design, and computer science.



About our speaker:

 Geocachingtalk2Feb2015300x3003David Pike is a professor of literature at American University, and the author of major books in urban studies, modernism, cinema, and comparative literature.








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Where is the Internet?

Join us for a lecture by Professor Laura DeNardis on the material and geographical resources that power the internet.

Where is the Internet?  

Wednesday January 21, 2014, 3 p.m.
Battelle-Tompkins 228

How do technologies once imagined as disembodied or dispersed become local? Laura DeNardis is one of the world’s foremost Internet governance scholars and a professor in the School of Communication at American University. In this talk she discusses current debates about internet infrastructure and neutrality, and traces how the internet has evolved from a dispersed and ethereal technology to a global everyday utility and a local, and fiercely debated, political resource.


About our speaker

Laura PictureDr. Laura DeNardis is a scholar of Internet architecture and governance and a tenured Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington, D.C.  She is a Senior Fellow of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and serves as the Director of Research for the Global Commission on Internet Governance. She is an affiliated fellow of the Yale Information Society Project at Yale Law School and served as its Executive Director from 2008-2011. She is a co-founder and co-series editor of the MIT Press Information Society book series. She has previously taught at New York University, in the Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University, and at Yale Law School. Her expertise and scholarship has been featured in Science MagazineThe EconomistNational Public Radio (NPR), New York TimesTime MagazineChristian Science MonitorSlate MagazineReutersForbes, the Washington TimesEl PaisLa RepubblicaThe Atlantic, and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Laura DeNardis at United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

Her books include The Global War for Internet Governance (Yale University Press 2014), Opening Standards: The Global Politics of Interoperability (MIT Press 2011); Protocol Politics: The Globalization of Internet Governance (MIT Press 2009); and Information Technology in Theory (2007).

Laura DeNardis holds an A.B. in Engineering Science from Dartmouth College; a Master of Engineering from Cornell University; a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Virginia Tech (Phi Kappa Phi); and was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.


Have a look at Laura DeNardis’ books:

 The Global War For Internet Governanceoffers a fresh perspective on both familiar and under-theorized questions and topics animating the field of contemporary critical and cultural theory. It provides a full account of the history and scope of the field, focusing on the most pressing questions and problems that occupy and impel contemporary theoretical discourse. GatThe Internet has transformed the manner in which information is exchanged and business is conducted, arguably more than any other communication development in the past century. Despite its wide reach and powerful global influence, it is a medium uncontrolled by any one centralized system, organization, or governing body, a reality that has given rise to all manner of free-speech issues and cybersecurity concerns. The conflicts surrounding Internet governance are the new spaces where political and economic power is unfolding in the twenty-first century. This all-important study by Laura DeNardis reveals the inner power structure already in place within the architectures and institutions of Internet governance. It provides a theoretical framework for Internet governance that takes into account the privatization of global power as well as the role of sovereign nations and international treaties. In addition, DeNardis explores what is at stake in open global controversies and stresses the responsibility of the public to actively engage in these debates, because Internet governance will ultimately determine Internet freedom

Protocol Politics examines what’s at stake politically, economically, and technically in the selection and adoption of a new Internet protocol. Laura DeNardis’s key insight is that protocols are political. IPv6 intersects with provocative topics including Internet civil liberties, US military objectives, globalization, institutional power struggles, and the promise of global democratic freedoms. DeNardis offers recommendations for Internet standards governance, based not only on technical concerns but on principles of openness and transparency, and examines the global implications of looming Internet address scarcity versus the slow deployment of the new protocol designed to solve this problem.


Please click on the book title below to learn more about Laura DeNardis’ works: 


Car Culture in Africa

Join us for a lecture by Professor Lindsey Green-Simms (Department of Literature, American University) on how luxury cars and car culture inform notions of cultural and social mobility  in Africa.

Cruising the Petro-state:  Car Culture and Nigerian Cinema

Wednesday November 2, 2016, 1 pm, at 228 Battelle-Tompkins Hall



This talk examines car culture and the status of the private automobile in post oil-boom Nigeria by reading popular video films that are a part of the now-famous “Nollywood” industry.  In particular, it will discuss how luxury cars like the Hummer or Mercedes Benz are paradigmatic and contradictory objects through which one can assess both the pleasures and anxieties of global modernity in Nigeria.  Though these cars are highly coveted objects, typically filmed driving down paved roads in posh neighborhoods, they are often a sign of wealth that is acquired through criminality, witchcraft, magic, or fraud.  Any discussion of car culture therefore requires an engagement with the complexities of the moral economy of Nigeria and assessment of what it means to be a capitalist consumer in a highly stratified oil-producing country.



About our speaker

Green-Simms-Lindsey-300Lindsey Green-Simms’ teaching and research focuses on African and post-colonial film and literature. Her particular interests include globalization, technology, gender and sexuality studies, and Nollywood video-film production. Professor Green-Simms’ forthcoming book, Postcolonial Automobility: Cars, Cultural Production, and Global Mobility in West Africa, examines how the contradictions of globalization are embedded in the commodity of the automobile and in the ideals of automobility. She is also working on a second book, provisionally titled Unbelonging Bodies: Same-Sex Sexualities and African Screen Media. Professor Green-Simms completed her doctorate in Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, and has previously taught at Duke University, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in Women’s Studies, as well as at the College of Charleston. She has published articles in Camera Obscura, transition, Journal of African Cinemas, and Journal of Postcolonial Writing and has book chapters in Viewing African Cinema in the Twenty-First Century (Ohio U. Press) and Indiscretions: At the Intersection of Queer and Postcolonial Theory (Rodopi Press).


Read more:

Lindsey Green-Simms, “Hustlers, Homewreckers, and Homoeroticism: Nollywood’s Beautiful Faces”
PDF: Hustlers_Homewreckers_and_Homoeroticism
Lindsey Green-Simms, “Occult Melodramas: Spectral Affect and West African Video-Film”
PDF: Occult_Melodramas_Spectral_Affect_and_W