On Thursday, March 25, at 6:30 EST, I’ll be delivering a lecture for the Boston Cinema and Media Seminar. I was invited by Bentley University, one of the member institutions of the Seminar, to talk about my border tunnels book project. Bentley Assistant Professor Jim Miranda will be the respondent.
To receive the zoom meeting ID, please email BASLINGER@bentley.edu. Participants will be able to ask questions and join the conversation after the initial presentation and dialogue.
On October 28, 2020, I participated on a round table on “The Poetics and Politics of Streaming” hosted by the Film Studies Department at King’s College London. Appropriately for the topic, and given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the round table was hosted online via Microsoft Teams. The other participants in the event were Laura U. Marks (Simon Fraser University), Neta Alexander (Colgate University), Tung-Hui Hu (University of Michigan), and the moderator was Jeff Scheible (King’s College London). The event itself was not recorded, but I recorded myself as I delivered my opening remarks (included here over my slides):
Following the event, I’ve been in contact with folks working on the question I posed at the end: How do we make acknowledgement of the material effects of streaming technologies on land, people, and resources part of our daily practices? One generative example I have learned of since is the Land Acknowledgement proposed by the Digital Media Workshop at the University of Chicago.
At the end of January of this year, twenty scholars interested in the intersections of media, urbanism, and migration convened at the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication (ATEC) at the University of Texas at Dallas for the three-day symposium Platforms to the World. I organized the symposium in conjunction with my ATEC colleagues Heidi Cooley and Dale McDonald, co-directors of the Public Interactives Research Lab.
Our aim was to create a forum to address an essential contradiction in 21st century media: while emerging media technologies promise faster and more intimate connections with people around the world, media technologies themselves actively contribute to the reinforcement of social divisions and political borders. The instigating force for the event was the belief that media’s “border logics,” their simultaneous making and unmaking of boundaries, deserved closer scrutiny.
In February 2019, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that Netflix Mexico would produce fifty television shows and films over the following two years, making it the platform’s international territory with the most targeted productions. The promotional video following the announcement features Sarandos driving around Mexico City, picking up six of the stars of Netflix Mexico original series, and engaging in a kind of carpool karaoke to one of Luis Miguel’s songs. By putting together these six actors, the video intends to showcase the diversity of content that the streaming service offers to Mexican audiences: reality TV, thriller, comedy, musical. Implicitly (and perhaps unwittingly), the promo also illustrates a key similarity among all these stars: they are all white.
The Global Media Festival was a one-night screening of international shorts organized and presented by the students enrolled in my Global Media Cultures course during fall 2019.
For the last four weeks of the course, students worked in groups to watch and analyze the shorts; write critical introductions and film reviews; and plan a promotional campaign for the event. This collaborative effort built on the topics studied in the course (migration, translation, adaptation, global inequality) and on semester-long class discussions on the role of media in addressing these topics.
On the evening of November 20, 2019, we held the event at the main auditorium at the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition to the members of the class and their friends, members of the ATEC community also showed up. Each group had selected one person to introduce their short, and I gave a brief introduction at the beginning explaining the project and the work students had put into it. Read a digital copy of the festival program.
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.
As 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.