Skip to content

Category: News

Moments from Death and Affect (Anne Allison and Jake Silver)

On February 19, we gathered for our second session which was organized with the generous sharing of works-in-progress by Anne Allison and Jake Silver. We read both of their works, and shared what came to the mind of each of us, what we’d like to hear more about, and how we can do anthropology when the object of description/inquiry is not so clear as we may assume. I share here the opening remarks by the two organizers, and some portion of the conversations (at the expense of their original richness).

Anne: These are the last two sections in what is a chapter in the book I’m writing on new mortuary practices in an era of downsizing sociality in Japan. The chapter takes on a new genre of business called “companies that deal with the possessions of the deceased” (遺品整理会社) that also clean-up residences where corpses of the lonely dead (people who have died alone and left behind corpses that go undiscovered for up to several months) are found. In the chapter I am interested in the smell these corpses emit that are often what provokes discovery in the first place (by landlords, neighbors, passers-by). The smell of unsociality: being alone, and undiscovered, at death. I invite a discussion of death/the senses/care as they come together in this work performed by manual workers. Quite astounding I find this. And wonder if you do too. And, of course, how to write this, how to ethnographize this, how to “do” this.

Jake: What I’m sharing touches upon affect, atmosphere, and life/death. The portion of the chapter I share with you focuses on jokes—that I kept hearing regarding the smell of outer space. I initially resisted writing about these since they seem far from the realm for “astronomy” or “politics.” Then I came to realize they were important ways in which understandings about the sensuous atmosphere of colonialism and outer space were bleeding into one another. Perhaps the sky harbors things that can hurt Palestinians. The sky can be an enemy. The place—Gaza—is often called as an open-air prison, but the air is not quite “open”—the air is under seizure. How can one make sense of the jokes about the sky when they may be commentaries, aspirations, imaginations that derive from the life under seizure here, in that particular place? Why do people exchange banters about the smell of the moon? I’d appreciate any comment and critique.

Questions from the floor

Shreya: Jake, I don’t know why, but somehow, the way you talked about the sky reminded me of the forest, or jungle—as space of the unknown with perpetual danger. The potential for extraction and abuse. A landscape of infinite knowledge that demands intimacy. Do you think that there’s something about the expansion of the self in humans trying to prospect and extract from the sky?

Cody: Jake, I liked your invocation of synesthesia (one sense’s automatic recall of a different sense). I wonder what does it actually mean to “feel the sky”—which you’re grappling with in your writing here—to figure out, say, “experience” of the world under certain conditions. In terms of synesthesia, you try to look and feel here. For me, feeling is something tactile, and I wonder in what sense you are connecting the sight and feeling here. Is there something beyond what it means to see in the jokes? Is there something that you’re looking for in regard to how the world is, or can be, “experienced”?

Emily: Why smell? What is it about the smell that provides people something that is out of reach for others, or outside language? I am really interested in the organization of sensorium, and this varies across time and space. So I feel like it can be very productive to think along this line—perhaps synesthesia is one way. How can smell be situated? And also, about affect, people have different understandings about affect, and where to locate it, i.e., inside/outside bodies or elsewhere. So I think the organization of writing here doesn’t have to be cleanly separated.

Sophia: I am interested in the tension between phenomenology and affect. In Jake’s work, the sky seems to be overdetermined by the pervasiveness of occupation as something that is atmospheric. But also, you make connections between these affective encounters with hopeful potential. For me, affect is about indeterminacy, potential features, and (different organizations of) sensorium. But in this specific place, the sky looks so foreclosed by violence. When phenomenology/senses are overdetermined by the atmosphere, what happens to potential?

Cade: I’m thinking back to my interests about transduction in bodies. Could we talk about the place of the biological in the ethnographic? Particularly smell. For anne, the ethnographic seems to be located in the ruptures and affordances of biological processes: Corpses, the biological and physical responses. With Jake, if this can be productive, could the biological be another way to think about how overdetermined mechanisms actually control biologies of people?

Ralph: I’m interested in phenomenology and the speaking subject. Does affect theory—in its phenomenological emphasis—fail to deal with the physiological or the biological somehow? Can they address, for example, blood pressure, heart beats, panic as a physiological response inside your body? I read that both of you deal with the sensorium, and also speaking subjects, extrapolating from jokes, smell, corpses, reaching out to larger theoretical claims about colonialism, enclosure, (un)sociality. To what extent can we depend on the speaking subject to produce ethnographic knowledge? How can the ethnographic encounters be different?

Jieun: In anne’s sections, I was struck by the organization of writing where anne puts the work of cleaners on par with the work of miniature artist. In my work, I think a lot about how to value care laborers, what figures I may discuss to what questions, and so on. I expected to hear about cleaners in this chapter, but not dollhouses. The labor of art and art of labor—the distinction between these two, as anne describes, is not clear in the lives of people. It only becomes compartmentalized when they get to be written. So this was something that caught me. I wonder if you have considered using dollhouses for a different section—for different organization.

Leave a Comment

Deathscapes; Ethnography of/beyond Senses

Please register here.

Deathscapes: Ethnography of/beyond Senses

In this covid moment, death has altered the social landscape. How is this taking place and how do anthropologists deal with death as a concept and a method ethnographically: a vital event in our collective life? In this session, the speakers draw upon their own research —on mass graves in Hart Island, digital economies and media communication, and (dis)locations of silence—to consider how death can bring us beyond the sense(s) of finality to shape lives in inalterable ways.

Tamara Kneese (Assistant Professor of Media Studies, Program Director of Gender and Sexualities Studies, University of San Francisco)

Sally Raudon (Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge)

Benjamin Tausig (Associate Professor, Department of Music, Stony Brook University)

Time: Monday, March 29, 2021, 1:30-3:00 PM (Eastern Time)

* Information about references will be updated to the registered participants.

Hosted by: Humanities Unbounded Ethnography Workshop

Leave a Comment

Moments from Death and Rebirth (Jieun Cho and Shreya Maini)

On February 5, the members of Ethnography Workshop 2020-21 gathered for the first session to discuss death and rebirth, which was organized by Shreya Maini (fellow, Religious Studies) and Jieun Cho (GA, Cultural Anthropology). Drawing on Gupta’s article that uses childhood as a critical lens to examine the category of child in developmental models, the session proposed to think about reincarnation beyond the secular-religious divide. How do certain figures become central to (re)imagination of collective futures, in ways that bring together the spiritual and the political? How are senses of time—cyclical, linear, or otherwise—remade in/through such figures to what ends and effects? Given that living through the pandemic has curtailed opportunities for generative interactions in social fields, how can one think of reincarnation or rebirth in light of the current challenge to care for each other?

Shreya began the session by her short presentation on reincarnation in Hinduism. In her work, she engages how people live as reincarnated persons especially through their bodies, rather than general abstraction of karma circulation. Reincarnated people are not only marked by the memory from their previous lives, but also they often live with corporeal traces like scars and birthmarks. Living in and through these bodies, how do they experience past, perhaps less nostalgic than continuous, in ways to shape the contours of a distinctive present? Shreya wants to take seriously the physicality of reincarnation as a ground for thinking beyond the religious tenets of reincarnation. What would this provide for how history, time, and past are constructed, when developmental models often take it for granted that life starts at birth and ends with death?

Jieun continued the conversation, and shifted the topic of mortality, rebirth, and body to the relationship between modernity, body politic, and nuclear family in Japan. In historical discussions of Japanese modernity, nationhood may be thought as a formation of a body politic around the “two bodies” of kingship and the figure of nuclear family, which constantly shaped moral impetus for nuclear family across different periods as civilized, cultured, and postwar middle-class life. In this history of national rebirth, children have become a developmental project in families as the centerpiece of postwar citizenship. And this change in children’s place has bearings on post-Fukushima politics where “Fukushima children” figure middle-class aspirations, as hauntings of national past, presentist caring efforts, and future imaginaries. In light of this history, how can one address the issues of care, life, re/production, and long-term radiation exposure by focusing on the nitty-gritty of care labor to raise healthy children? How can the everyday places bring us beyond re/productive framework in thinking about post-nuclear life?

Discussion questions

  • We’d like you to think with us what moral/religious/ideological/discursive configurations, figures, figurations may be productive in remaking death, mortality, ending into cyclical life (of a community, family, nation, species, etc.). Who is the figure of interest for you in your field, how is it discussed by people, what’s the history, what is the figure made of, what characterizes the chances and risks of that configured life/death? When do they appear to what effect?
  • And, ethnographically, how to write about (represent) them in our fields when such stories about configured life/death are always on the verge of being made illogical, unscientific, incomprehensible?

Emily: What is a child, if not determined by age and processes of biological growth? In ethnomusicology, questions like why children should listen to a different set of music were asked. Music, in that sense, is definitely one venue where such socializations are set in motion to produce children and childhood. In what ways do your interests in reincarnation/rebirth explode the notions of childhood?

Ralph: It is necessary to think against the homogenization of “the West” in terms of childhood, and also, historicity in general. How can we break out of the East-West framework in our work, in working with people and written texts? The Youtube Video we watched together made me think a lot about other beings than humans. The narrative seems human-centric, and I wanted to throw this out as a question for all of us.

Jake: Both Shreya and Jieun’s researches resonate much with the ethics of care. The idea of transactional or relation networks that are created by care may have potential to remake identity categories that are frequently associated with age. In this covid moment, interestingly, the notion of vulnerabiltiy/capacity seems to be inverted or subverted in some ways, for children are said to be not as vulnerable to the virus as elders are in biological terms. Also, in general, there is a huge look towards children when “humans” (read adults) reached this moment in history. Perhaps we can think of this week’s topic in relation to such questions. We may be in distinctive moments where we can reconceptualize how certain people can do certain things when life and living are made through processes of care.

Cade: I came to think of reincarnation as something that animates social life. And we are in the moment when such interactions for sociality are constantly scaled down, perhaps in the waiting for another moment of reincarnation. Reincarnation may offer productive insights to apply to other issues beyond religious dimension of life (as Shreya is trying to do), to think through the ways in which we come out of the present moment.

Yanping: “Child as a developmental project” resonates a lot with what I encountered in my research. Many women I meet in the context of Black lung disease are care workers, and often for both in and outside their own families. Age-bounded notion of childhood often led people to describe their children in terms of what they cannot do and how they are behind certain developmental norms.


Leave a Comment

Spring 2021 Updates from Ethnography Workshop

In Fall 2020, the Ethnography Workshop convened to host a series of public events around a variety of topics in hopes of critically engaging the shared experience of living through the pandemic. In Spring 2021, while continuing to be socially distanced, we will work through a single topic: death. The decision to scale down our business as usual is made at the end of Fall 2020. Instead of doing more events, we want to value mutual support among the members of the Ethnography Workshop by attending less to performance but more to intimacy. And, to do this cultural work in times of uncertainty, we will stay with death as an overarching theme of this semester.

We plan to share among us our own works-in-progress, build archives/glossaries, and feelings/thoughts/comments for each other. We will also watch a film, read a novel, listen to a playlist together. This emphasis on cultivating internal culture is both intellectual and ethnographic. We hope that this change of strategy to endure the weight of the time allows for the fellows to explore their inquiries through more ethnographic modes of attention as in expressing, crafting, feeling, and archiving.

To value closed exchanges, however, does not necessarily mean that we are going to be invisible. We are going to have one public event on March 29. We will continue to share parts of our dialogues and a list of references on this website. When we discuss widely publicized materials like music, films, and novels, we will open the sessions to the public. In such occasions, we will let you know through our listserv and this website. So please stay tuned!

We have one event coming up on March 29, Mon, 1:30-3 pm (EST). The details will be shared through our listserv and this website soon. A blogpost from our first session on February 5—Death and Rebirth—will be updated soon.

Leave a Comment

Ethnography between Repression and Resilience (Graduate Colloquium by Sophia Goodfriend and Jake Silver)

Please register for this event here.

We are pleased to announce our last graduate colloquium for Fall 2020, organized by two of our graduate fellows, Jake Silver and Sophia Goodfriend. Centered around the theme of ethnography as both analytic and creative practice, this session highlights ethnographic possibilities regarding surveillance, capitalism, policing states as well as resilience, refusals, resistance in the occupied West Bank. We are excited to be joined by Lisa Bhungalia, Assistant Professor in Department of Geography at Kent State University.

Date: November 20, Friday, 4-5:30 pm, EST.

Description: Many disciplines veer into one of two analytic directions when examining colonialism, surveillance, or police states: either structural inquiries into the power of such military systems to determine life, or examinations of how those living in the grasp of such regimes resist, refuse, and cultivate subversive power on their own terms. This colloquium examines if and how ethnography might reconcile these divergent frameworks: Can ethnography balance repression and resilience? Can it offer a portrait of how individuals navigate massive forms of political enclosure with their own ambitions and hopes in mind? In particular, we will explore these questions through ethnographies in the occupied West Bank, though the issues and concerns underlying our conversation resonate far and wide.


  • Bhungalia, Lisa. 2020. “Laughing at Power: Humor, Transgression, and the Politics of Refusal in Palestine.” Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space 38 (3): 387–404.
  • Silver, Jake. 2020. “Verticality and vulnerability: on the affective infrastructures of Palestinian astronomy.” Unpublished manuscript, last modified November, 2020. Adobe PDF file.
Leave a Comment

Moments from Surveillance Regimes: Capitalism/ Race/ Digitality

On November 9, the Ethnography Workshop hosted its last public event of Fall 2020. We were fortunate to have three speakers critically engage the linkages between surveillance, capitalism, and digitality, each drawing on years of research and activism. The event was hosted by our co-director, Professor Ralph Litzinger. 70 participants joined the session. Each speaker gave 15 minutes presentations on how the global expansion of surveillance capitalism in recent decades has had troubling effects on different populations, from Xinjiang to New York City to the US-Mexico border, as well as other places. The presentations were followed by discussion questions. Prior to the event, the fellows in the Ethnography Workshop workshopped selected publications and works-in-progress provided to us by our speakers; their discussion questions opened up the Q and A. For the last forty minutes, we fielded questions from the Zoom chat, and had a lively discussion.

Our first speaker, Brian Jefferson, is Associate Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the author of Digitize and Punish: Racial Criminalization in the Digital Age (University of Minnesota Press, 2020). His work explores the intersections of digital technology, the state, and capitalism, and his recent publications look at political geographies and economies of digital carceral technology in New York City and Chicago.

Jefferson opened his talk discussing the history of cybernetics and placed it in the context of racial and penal capitalism. The general idea of cybernetics is that both animals and machines survive and thrive by modifying behavior through information feedback loops. The constant exchange between communication and control is at the core of cybernetic capitalism. In his presentation, Brian traced the material uses of cybernetics from the development of anti-aircraft guns to more recent uses in automation among digital laborers. Credit scores, internet search histories, and geo-location data are cybernetic developments that have made their ways into our everyday lives. His main aim was to show how cybernetic capitalism is embedded in the making of digital carceral networks in urban centers in Chicago and New York.  By linking cybernetic capitalism to racial capitalism, Professor Jefferson showed that although the issue of immaterial labor and digital work is often cast as a new development, it has deep roots in histories of policing, incarceration, and data collection. Surveillance capitalism cannot be fully understood without attention to these racialized histories of incarceration, data collection, criminalization and policing.

Our second speaker, Carolina Sanchez Boe, is currently a Danish Research Foundation post-doctoral fellow at IMC, Aarhus University, at Université de Paris, Cerlis, CNRS, and at SADR, John Jay Center for Criminal Justice, CUNY. Her broader research interests center on the anthropology of confinement, deportation, illegalization, and bordering practices in prisons and urban spaces, primarily in France and the USA. An advocate, para-legal lawyer, anthropologist and sociologist, she has worked for a number of non-profit organizations, including Cimade, American Friends’ Service Committee, Cette France-là, and the Prison Litigation Network. Her book, The Undeported is forthcoming with Rowman and Littlefield, due out in 2021.

Boe shared reflections on her current research project, “Borders Without Fences and Confinement Without Walls: New Approaches to Migration Control Through Electronic Bracelets.” This project studies for-profit and humanitarian motives behind the use of electronic surveillance, such as “ankle bracelets” or “ankle shackles,” for internal border control. Such tools of digital monitoring were once celebrated as a potentially more humane and cost-effective way to manage and even decrease detention. However, as Boe pointed out, the digitization of detention has created new kinds of monetization as multiple players process, trade, and profit from the detainees’ biometric information. Drawing on research in Austin, Texas, she showed how new technologies of monitoring are experienced and embodied, when border control takes over the most intimate spheres, in homes, and on bodies. She also reflected on the use of audio-visual methods to study digital surveillance and the specific problems encountered, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. What do we do when contact to research participants is reduced to communications through cell phones, the very device through which the detained are being monitored by ICE?

Darren Byler is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He researches the dispossession of ethno-racial Muslim minorities through forms of surveillance and digital capitalism in China and Southeast Asia. His first book, Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession and Masculinity in a Chinese City (forthcoming, Duke University Press, August 2021) examines emerging forms of ethno-racialization, capitalism and state power in the Uyghur region in Chinese Central Asia. His second book in progress, Technologies of Reeducation considers the social life of surveillance technologies among ethno-racial minorities in China and around the world.

Byler’s talk, “The Digital Enclosure of Turkic Muslims in Northwest China,” showed how the digital enclosure of Uyghur and Kazakh societies in Northwest China produces a form of original accumulation or capitalist frontier making. He argued that these digital enclosures convert the sociality of targeted populations into data while at the same time expropriating their labor – producing an underclass of dependent laborers. What is happening in Xinjiang—the production of unfree workers through the operations of “data police,” “re-education,” “training centers,” and so on—needs to be understood not only as an effect of China’s ongoing “war on terror,” but also as part of the global expansion of surveillance capitalism’s frontier-making. Byler, as well as Jefferson and Boe, emphasized the importance of identifying the global connections of local operations of surveillance capitalism.

For those of you who want to revisit, or missed some parts of the workshop, we have attached here the recording of the whole session. We are grateful that all the speakers agreed to publish the recording. Thank you again to those who attended the event and participated in this provocative conversation about some of the more pressing issues of our troubled times.

Selected references:

– (Link to open-access volume) Jefferson, Brian. 2020. Digitize and Punish: Racial Criminalization in the Digital Age. Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press.

– Byler, Darren, and Carolina Sanchez Boe. 2020. “Tech-Enabled ‘terror Capitalism’ Is Spreading Worldwide. The Surveillance Regimes Must Be Stopped.” The Guardian, July 24, 2020, sec. World news.

Click here to see the questions by the Ethnography Workshop fellows.

Question 1.

In a paper we read for this event, Darren Byler brings up the notion of sous-surveillance. This term has been historically invoked to redistribute power within the surveillance encounter: those being surveilled are aware of it and can act accordingly, subverting the system from within. We also see this idea in a different form in Carolina Boe’s work. Brian Jordon Jefferson’s work is much more focused on technical infrastructures that exact surveillance and control over populations. As he writes in his book, punitive web technology keeps the negatively racialized poor in the cities, “but they must remain apart from the centers of conspicuous consumption, labor markets, leisure, residences, and wealth.” Criminalized subjects get ensnarled, he writes, in something like a low-intensity form of Agamben’s state of exception (page 163). So, between these various approaches, there seems to be a tension between complete carceral control and the subversive power to resist digital enclosure. How do each of you understand the relationship between digital enclosure and resistance? Is resistance even the right term?

Question 2.

Could each of you speak a bit about how they would define the current state of surveillance studies?  For Carolina and Darren, what does the ethnographic afford to a study of surveillance that, for example, geography, media studies, cultural studies or sociology doesn’t quite get at?

For Brian, situated in geography and information sciences, you show powerfully that the digital carceral state is maintained by racial capitalism. But one could argue that anthropology, as a discipline, while attentive to racism in the history of the discipline, has not paid enough attention, until very recently, to the linkages between digital capitalism, racial capitalism, and the carceral state. Could you reflect on whether you see an emergent inter- or cross-disciplinary space emerging between anthropology and geographers interested in regimes of digital surveillance? What future avenues do any of you envision for researching the sites, practices, and networks that sustain surveillance today?

Question 3.

Each of you brilliantly write and speak about the ways surveillance appears at the nexus of capital, state power, and private technology industries. Byler and Boe in particular center the experiences of those navigating the terrorizing effects of these systems, using interviews with those subjected to invasive monitoring and policing as a way to get at how these systems work, through what networks, and means of enforcement. Jefferson makes it clear that the penal state, while operating as a decentralized network, relies on tech workers to write code, or, for example, staff in the NYPD to track the social media activity of youth in “proto-gangs,” all of which is possible because tech corporations are hired to develop social media intelligence gathering platforms.

This question is interested in the limits each of you may have encountered in your research. Were there tech workers who refused to answer questions? Government officials or police departments or detention centers that classified certain kinds of information? Were there informants intimidated and unable to explain the scope of their experiences? Could each of you speak on the kinds of opacities you encountered in your research, and how you navigated these, ethnographically, or otherwise? Were there things, events, experiences, or other research objects you choose not to, or could not write about?

Question 4.

How far can we go in saying that algorithms create a carceral condition that orients behaviors and creates certain types of subjects as human subjectivity is “digitalized,” when there always seems to be some form of sensory/affective space to fill in the gaps not-yet concerned by algorithmic surveillance? Can such newfound and increasingly intensified forms of surveillance ever render a human completely unable to resist, even when life is subjected to forms of near-torture and engendered with a sense of fearful hopelessness? And in the meantime where such gaps still exist, what new possibilities of sociality and life might emerge in these not-yet surveilled spaces of everydayness; and if they do, how do we show such forms of life are valuable and present even if they often allude our typical valuations of life (i.e., the liberal subject)?

1 Comment

Surveillance Regimes: Capitalism/ Race/ Digitality

Please register for this event here.

Time: 1:30 – 3:00 pm, Monday, November 9, 2020 Eastern Time (US & Canada)

Our speakers for this Ethnography Workshop grapple with the following questions, adding nuance and complexity to current debates about the logics and practices of surveillance capitalism. How do we understand the relationship between cybernetic capitalism and racial capitalism? How are states working with tech firms to maintain racial hierarchies in citizenries and labor markets? How does digital enclosure of Uyghur and Kazakh societies in Northwest China produce a form of original accumulation or capitalist frontier making? How do digital enclosures convert targeted populations into data while at the same time expropriating their labor and produce an underclass of dependent laborers? And how are electronic bracelets, from the US-Mexico border to Europe tracking migrants and creating borders without fences and confinement without walls?


Brian Jefferson is Associate Professor of Geography and Geographic Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Author of Digitize and Punish: Racial Criminalization in the Digital Age. My work explores intersections of digital technology, the state, and capitalism. My recent publications look at political geographies and economies of digital carceral technology in New York City and Chicago.

Keywords: history of computers, racial capitalism, state theory, urbanization.

Presentation Topic: Cybernetic Capitalism, Racial Capitalism considers surveillance technology from the standpoint of racial capitalist theory. It draws attention to the incentives that states offer tech firms to help maintain racial hierarchy in  citizenries and labor markets.

Darren Byler is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He researches the dispossession of ethno-racial Muslim minorities through forms of surveillance and digital capitalism in China and Southeast Asia. His first book Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession and Masculinity in a Chinese City (Duke University Press, January 2021) examines emerging forms of ethno-racialization, capitalism and state power in the Uyghur region in Chinese Central Asia. His second book Technologies of Reeducation considers the social life of surveillance technologies among ethno-racial minorities in China and around the world.

Presentation Topic: “The Digital Enclosure of Turkic Muslims in Northwest China.” This talk analyzes the way the digital enclosure of Uyghur and Kazakh societies in Northwest China produces a form of original accumulation or capitalist frontier making. It argues that digital enclosures can convert the sociality of targeted populations into data while at the same time expropriating their labor – producing an underclass of dependent laborers.

Carolina Sanchez Boe is a sociologist and anthropologist. She is currently a Danish Research Foundation post-doctoral fellow at IMC, Aarhus University, at Université de Paris, Cerlis, CNRS, and at SADR, John Jay Center for Criminal Justice, CUNY. Her research project “Borders Without Fences, Confinement Without Walls” focuses on the use of electronic monitoring for border control purposes. Her broader research interests center on the anthropology of confinement, deportation, illegalization, and bordering practices in prisons and urban spaces, primarily in France and the USA. She has worked for non-profit organizations in these fields, including Cimade, American Friends’ Service Committee, Cette France-là, and the Prison Litigation Network. Her book, The Undeported (due 2021) is forthcoming with Rowman and Littlefield.

Presentation Topic: “Studying Digital Confinement and Internal Border Surveillance in the Time of Covid.” After working on the entanglements of criminal justice and immigration control in France and the USA for the past two decades, with a focus on the experiences of foreign-nationals in prisons, detention centers, and facing de-legalized or undocumented status in the Greater Paris and New York areas, I turned towards studying the use of electronic monitoring as an alternative to immigration detention in the USA. My project “Borders Without Fences and Confinement Without Walls: New Approaches to Migration Control Through Electronic Bracelets” a project that studies 1) the for-profit and humanitarian motives behind the use of electronic surveillance for internal border control as well as 2) the ways in which these new technologies of confinement experienced and embodied, when border control is ensured in the most intimate spheres, in homes, and on bodies. In my 15 minute presentation, I wish to discuss the use of audiovisual methods to study digital confinement and surveillance and the specific problems encountered now that contacts to my research participants are reduced to communications through their cell phones, which are also the device through which they are being monitored by ICE.

References for informed participation:

  • Boe, Carolina S. 2020. “Institutions of Confinement as Sites of Passage: The Mètis of Foreign Nationals Caught in the Wars on Terror, Drugs and Immigration.” The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 38 (1): 70–87.
  • Boe, Carolina S. 2020. “Contestation and Visibility in Prison, Immigration Detention and Under Digital Confinement in New York.” Unpublished manuscript, last modified October, 2020. Microsoft word file.
  • Byler, Darren. 2020. “Terror Capitalism Technologies and Digital Enclosure in Northwest China.” Unpublished manuscript, last modified October, 2020. Adobe PDF file.
  • Jefferson, Brian Jordan. 2018. “Computerizing Carceral Space: Coded Geographies of Criminalization and Capture in New York City:” Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, March.
  • Jefferson, Brian. 2020. “Punishment in the Network Form.” In Digitize and Punish: Racial Criminalization in the Digital Age, 129-63. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Leave a Comment

Moments from Syncopated Resonances

Session One:

Session Two:

Thank you to those who joined our “Syncopated Resonances” event for Session One and/or Session Two, featuring Deborah Kapchan and Cassandra Hartblay. This time, we hosted two sessions for working across different time zones. In Session One, each speaker spoke briefly to their experiences of working through the body/bodies, and we moved onto discussing questions that were raised by the fellows. In Session Two, we watched the recording of Session One for an hour while sharing our real-time reactions in the chat.

Deborah Kapchan has been working on religious practice of Sufi women for a long time, thinking about aesthetics, sublimity, and affect by asking what happens when bodies are aligned through sonic practices of chanting. She discusses in a series of her work, including her chapters in Theorizing Sound Writing, the transformative potential of sound knowledge in what she calls transduction, in forms of listening in particular.

Cassandra Hartblay has been engaging the body from the perspective of disability studies. In her article theorizing “disability expertise,” which the fellows read before the workshop, she discusses how embodied experience of different abilities may be engaged to think critically about the normalizing forces of the designed world and the socialities of bodies in general. She has also produced a documentary play based on her ethnographic interviews, “I Was Never Alone.” In an experimental space, she noted, the difference in bodily capacities may become an opportunity for aesthetic translation.

In Session Two, many people shared their thoughts to the chat as a way to perform syncopated resonances in a virtual setting. The chat can be accessed here as well.

Leave a Comment

Affordances of Schizophonia (Graduate Colloquium by Cade Bourne and Yanping Ni)

Register for this event here.

Time: October 16, Friday, 1PM – 2:30PM (EST)

  • Professor John Supko (Associate Professor, Music Department, Duke University)
  • Members of the OS Collective – A collective of artists and scholars that work with multi-modal ethnographic installations and experimental ethnography

In 1977, composer and scholar R. Murray Schafer coined the term “schizophonia”, which he described as, “the split between an original sound and its electroacoustical transmission or reproduction.” Schafer viewed the separation of sound from its source as inherently destructive and a facet of anxieties regarding the gradual erasure of the sounds of nature and the human voice as a consequence of the technocratic incursion of industrial noise into increasingly dense urban acoustic ecologies.

The Field Recording is a time-honored technique across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. This panel, comprised of anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, composers, and sound artists, asks:

  • Is the separation of sound from its source necessarily a destructive or violent process?
  • What are the possibilities for the use of field recordings both as part of the ethnographic process and as an ethnographic product?
  • What are the ethics of the recording and reproduction of sound in ethnography and music composition?
  • Can ethnography be distinguished from art?

Sources for informed consideration:
1. Four selected tracks from John Supko’s composition work:

2. Three selected works by the OS Collective (one 30-minute piece and two 6-minute responses; they are all included in one stream) here.

3. Readings (download from here);

  • Schafer, R. Murray. 1997 [1977]. “Introduction.” In The Soundscape : Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, 3-12. Rochester: Destiny Books.
  • Schafer, R. Murray. 1997 [1977]. “The Electric Revolution.” In The Soundscape : Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, 88-99. Rochester: Destiny Books.
  • McLuhan, Marshall. 2017. “Visual and Acoustic Space.” In Audio Culture, Readings in Modern Music, 89-94. New York: Bloomsbury.

(Optional) Suggested Viewings:

  • Tornatore, Giuseppe, dir.The legend of 1900. 1998; Chatsworth, CA: New Line Home Entertainment, 2002. DVD.
  • Hsiao-Hsien, Hou, dir. Café Lumière. 2003; New York: Wellspring Media, 2005. DVD.
Leave a Comment