Producing Race: Technology and the African Diaspora

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Columbia University
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Recent scholarship has witnessed a proliferation of critical inquiry into the intersection of technology and race. This body of work asks us to think through technology as an extension of so-called human faculties. Within the terrain of literary studies, technology has allowed us to engage questions of publication, poetics, and the archive. This graduate student symposium seeks to put literary scholars in conversation with scholars in fields such as, but not limited to, anthropology, history, musicology, and sociology. As such, we are interested in exploring the implication of this technological turn within the field of African Diaspora Studies more broadly.
From the slave ship to the human genome, the daguerreotype to the digital camera, the chain gang to the prison industrial complex, technology has been intimately intertwined with black social life and its cultural artifacts. Within this intimate bond, one might consider: How might the phonograph not only produce beautiful sounds but at the same time perform the political work of recording history? Also, how do we come to consider the instrumentality of the black body—wielded both for repressive and radical ends? Indeed, what would it mean to imagine race as a technology?
While the possibilities for thinking about race and technology are endless, this graduate student symposium is ultimately concerned with mining new categories of the human and otherwise. We invite paper submissions on topics that include but are not limited to:
• Literary experimentation and mixed media
• Science Fiction
• The Archive
• Gender and Sexuality
• Film, Photography, and Visual Culture
• Music, Soundscapes and Social noise
• Incarceration, Law, and Governmentality
• Performance and Performativity
• Geography and Space
• Affect, Corporeality, and the Sensorium
• Genetics, Biopolitics, and the History of Science

This graduate student symposium will be held at Columbia University on Friday, October 28, 2011. Symposium keynotes include:

• Brent Hayes Edwards, Department of English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University
• Fred Moten, English Department, Duke University
• Alondra Nelson, Department of Sociology and Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Columbia University

To submit a proposal, please email your name, institution, email address, and a proposal abstract of no more than 500 words to by May 15, 2011.

A limited number of travel stipends are available for graduate students who are traveling from a considerable distance and cannot procure travel funding from their home department. These travel grants are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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