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This fall, I’ll be teaching my Global Media Cultures course online for the first time because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At UTD, we’re required to offer an option for students to take the course asynchronously, so I devised a way to substitute for what would be the lecture + context portions of the class into a more accessible format for the students. During the summer I worked on creating audio recordings of conversations with the authors of the readings we’d be covering in class.

In the process, I decided to turn these recorded conversations into a podcast series that others could use in their teaching, particularly those adapting online courses with little or no advance notice. All the authors graciously agreed to have their participation edited to 45-minute episodes and shared in a public forum. Below is the list of guests and the articles we discussed. If you are teaching any of these and would benefit from having the podcast earlier than its official release, please send me an email, but note that episodes will not be ready until after Labor Day.

Twelve scholars in global media studies participated in this project. Our conversations cover the main contributions of their article, broader context related to the subject matter, and any connections between it and other relevant events or media. The geographical focus of the articles discussed spans the globe and covers television, music, memes, films, animation, and digital platforms.

The Global Media Cultures Podcast will soon live in its own website, where new episodes will be uploaded every week. Feel free to share widely to anyone you think may be interested.

Podcast Guests in Alphabetical Order

  • Lorena Alvarado (University of California, Merced)
    Never late: Unwelcome Desires and Diasporas in Chavela Vargas’ Last Works
  • Bianka Ballina (Mount Holyoke College)
    Juan of the Dead: Anxious Consumption and Zombie Cinema in Cuba
  • Laurena Bernabo (University of Georgia)
    Progressive Television, Translation, and Globalization: The Case of Glee in Latin America
  • Michelle Cho (University of Toronto)
    Genre, Translation, Transnational Cinema
  • Karrmen Crey (Simon Fraser University)
    Screen Text and Institutional Context: Indigenous Film Production and Academic Research Institutions
  • Camilo Diaz Pino (West Chester University)
    Weaponizing Collective Energy: DragonBall Z in the Anti-neoliberal Chilean Protest Movement
  • Jason Farman (University of Maryland, College Park)
    Mapping the Digital Empire: Google Earth and the Process of Postmodern Cartography
  • Laura Imaoka (University of Texas at Dallas)
    Rain with a Chance of Radiation: Forecasting Local and Global Risk after Fukushima
  • Ronak Kapadia (University of Illinois at Chicago)
    Sonic Contagions: Bird Flu, Bandung, and the Queer Cartographies of MIA
  • Aswin Punathambekar (University of Virginia) and Sriram Mohan (University of Michigan)
    A Sound Bridge: Listening for the Political in a Digital Age
  • Eszter Zimanyi (University of Southern California)
    Digital Transience: Emplacement and Authorship in Refugee Selfies

It started with a Twitter joke.

91665683_10105499601122550_7703103242141433856_oAs the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, governments instituted different kinds of lock down procedures to limit the amount of people coming into their country in an effort to reduce the possibilities of contagion. These procedures varied widely, from shutting down all incoming flights, to restricting entrance to citizens, to mandatory 14-day quarantines for anyone coming in. Some countries, such as Turkey and India, even instituted restrictions for internal movement. Within the United States, individual governors took (or opted not to take) measures to restrict who could come into their jurisdiction, and under what circumstances. Then there were the local measures. When the shelter-in-place restrictions in Dallas County and its neighboring Colin County began to differ substantially, an offhand remark on social media signaled the possibility that an administrative division such as the county line could become an actionable border in the time of COVID-19.

Borders in the Time of COVID-19 is a project about tracing the management of local, intra-national, and international borders during this pandemic. Some of these borders are established boundaries that have been reinforced since the pandemic began. Others, like county or state lines, have newly become sites of movement restrictions. Decisions about movement restrictions must inevitably balance limiting contagion with the need to provide essential services and maintain provision of basic goods. At the same time, some decisions taken under the cover of crisis have little to do with public health and may in fact be motivated by other ideological factors.

Border studies teaches us that borders are not only tools for dividing up a territory but also strategies for demarcating differences in society. Who is in, who is out, and who gets to make that decision are all politically charged choices with material effects on people’s lives.

…borders are, to some extent, designed to perform precisely this task: not merely to give individuals from different social classes different experiences of the law, the civil administration, and elementary rights, but actively to differentiate between individuals in terms of social class.

Étienne Balibar, What is a Border?

I envision this project as a public humanities initiative that will marshal the critical insights of border studies with the methodological tools of digital humanities to respond to and make sense of these rapid changes. For Phase 1, I have launched a website asking for information about how border closures are affecting communities at the local, provincial, and national level: https://covidborders.info/

Inspired by the rapid response efforts of other digital humanists like the Torn Apart project, I hope this initiative will engender collaborations with others across fields and locations who are likewise interested in tracking the roles of borders in these uncertain times.

I’ve recently taken to Prezi less as a presentation software and more as a space for creating visualizations -concept maps, timelines, etc – that help me work through my readings and research material. This particular visualization is inspired from a seminar presentation I prepared on Brian Larkin’s Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure, and Urban Life in Nigeria, a book I have encountered multiple times in the course of my grad career so far, and whose themes and methodologies speak to my own research interests quite a lot.

Prezi

The visualization in full Prezi mode can be accessed here. I hope to keep developing this visualization, and adding concepts and theorists that speak to the same interconnectedness of infrastructure, piracy, and breakdown/repair. Comments and suggestions are most welcome.

Organization

The horizontal funnel created by the two thick blue lines represents the space of technological possibilities created by the development of infrastructure. Moving from left to right represents the passage of time, and the funnel becomes bigger to illustrate the notion of mediation “enhancement” (Graham and Marvin 1996), how new technologies do not simply destroy older forms of communication but, by bringing in new ones, they may in fact intensify older forms as well. Read More

During the winter term, I took a class on sound and struggles with Prof. Kay Dickinson at Concordia University, and for my final project I created three video essays for a series entitled The Drag Queen’s Throat, where I explored issues of space, time, and representation related to sound studies through the cultural figure of the drag queen. The project description and statement can be read here.