Where Have We Been, Where Are We Going? Intersections in Race and Technology (NeMLA April 30-May 3 2015)

full name / name of organization: 
Nicholas Forster / Northeast Modern Languages Association (NeMLA)

Where do race and technology meet? Since its emergence cinema has been but one technology to repeatedly build its status on the raced bodies of its subjects. As scholars such as Michael Rogin have argued cinema required black bodies to establish its own identity as an artistic medium. While the transition from moving pictures to talkies was seen to inaugurate a new mode that would open up possibilities for the 'black voice' this was just one moment in the history of media technologies. As the Jazz Singer (1927) traded on blackface, Gone With the Wind (1939) used emerging color technologies to revive both an antebellum era and mark a false fault line with the past. However, the motion picture industry was not the only space where such a connection was critical. Although contemporary artists and filmmakers such as Spike Lee and Hank Willis Thomas have revealed some of these interactions, the contact zone of race and media technology remains understudied. This panel seeks to address this scholarly lacuna in probing the cross-cultural exchange and the connective points where race and media technologies intersect. From the ethnographic origins of sound recording to the digital streets constructed by social media, the relationship between technological innovation, media, and raced bodies may be more present now than it was a century ago. This panel examines the tensions and connections between broadly defined media technology and race to illustrate the necessity of thinking about them together.

If interested please submit a 250-350 word abstract and short bio through submission form at: https://nemla.org