Event | The Conversation – “Memorials and Monuments: Lessons from Charlottesville, New Orleans, and Port Chicago”

Time: 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Location: 24th Street Theater, Sierra 2 Center,
2791 24th Street, Sacramento, CA 95818

Join us for “The Conversation,” a new public event series hosted by the UC Davis Humanities Institute that invites professors and public intellectuals to consider current issues of the day. The Conversation will offer an open format, including short remarks by each participant as well as plenty of time for questions and discussion by the audience.

In our first installment, we reflect on recent events in Charlottesville and New Orleans, among other places, that have wrestled with how we remember and memorialize the past. Monuments and calls for their removal have become flashpoints for wider debates about our history and identity.

Panelists will include UC Davis Professors Gregory Downs (History), a leading historian of the Civil War and a leader in the effort to create the first National Park site devoted to Reconstruction and emancipation, and Javier Arbona (American Studies and Design), who is completing a project on memorial landscapes, Black Resistance, and World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area. “The Conversation” will be moderated by Professor Jaimey Fisher of German and Cinema and Digital Media, who has written about contemporary Germany’s relationship to its difficult past.

The event is free and open to the public. Please come and join the conversation!

This event is sponsored by UC Davis Humanities Institute

For more information please contact: Becky Wilson, rjwilson@ucdavis.edu

RSVP here

How to not discuss Puerto Rico…

The American Studies Association, of which I am a member, had a statement on the situation in Puerto Rico, and for me, to be honest… It was not a good statement. I’ll paste here and edit something I posted previously on social media:

With some very good scholars on the Executive Committee, no one apparently thought about directly naming the problems. Furthermore, it was not clear, unfortunately, if they consulted Puerto Rican scholars about this, since I don’t think –although I could be mistaken– that anyone on the Exec Committee identifies as Puerto Rican.

In the statement, there is no mention of the unaccountable and un-payable debt or the Junta government; there are also euphemistic terms like “acquisition,” as opposed to military invasion or occupation. And then, this very baffling point: “nor have they [Puerto Ricans] ever had sufficient representation in Congress.” To be clear, Puerto Ricans have no vote in Congress. None; at all. So “sufficient” sounds like another euphemistic wording. The American Studies Association has a responsibility, given that the membership includes some high school teachers and mostly higher ed faculty, to be much more precise, since I assume this will set some direction of what is taught in classrooms. But furthermore, Puerto Rico’s problem is not one of simple political participation or representation. After all, just look at Hawai’i or Alaska, as fully incorporated non-contiguous U.S. “states” where colonization is very much an ongoing process left unaddressed and unresolved by Congressional representation (and this obviously can be seen within the territorial “mainland” too, no doubt). Why not, if you’re the ASA, shift the discussion to decolonization?

What’s worse, from my perspective, is the perpetuation of a problematic myth that the aftermath of the hurricanes is a symptom of, in their word, “abandonment” and not specific colonial policies of austerity and privatization. (Did the Whitefish scandal seem like a case of abandonment?) In fact, the statement is short and it does not even make clear at first what they are addressing (hurricanes? climate change? colonialism?), until the next-to-last sentence, that is — but it comes with the same mistaken point about abandonment: the “doubled effects of the hurricanes and insufficient federal governmental attention.”

The statement is a meager two paragraphs long and some loose change, calling for donations and this very lazy, chilly line: a call “to continue both to illuminate the histories underlying and the effects of the current U.S. government’s relationship to Puerto Rico, and to mobilize resources for relief efforts toward recovery.” Isn’t that what many in the ASA are trying to do anyway: teach and mobilize efforts? The problem here is that the ASA, with this “abandonment” thesis, among other issues in the short statement, is making that work, in fact, much harder.

“To grow up on Guam”

To grow up on Guam is to grow up in a deeply militarized and colonized place. American bases occupy nearly 30 percent of the territory. Two of the main highways are “Marine Corps Drive” and “Army Drive.” The road from my grandma’s house to my former elementary school is “Purple Heart Highway.” Barbed wire fences with “No Trespassing Signs” snake across our island.

– Craig Santos Perez, Battleship Guam

Call for Papers: Visibilities and New Models of Policing

This Call for Papers seeks to expand upon emerging police-citizen relations. The Special Issue seeks to add new enquires and greater depth to discussions of how surveillance has enabled and empowered citizens to become more engaged with the task of policing. We are interested in how new abilities to digitally capture real-time events enable the public to support the task of policing, as well as encouraging citizens to work without or beyond the police.

Surveillance & Society

McKittrick on McKittrick

Glissant offers us a radical spatial politics that harnesses creative energy and the entanglements of world-wide relation engages the difficult project of honoring our collective inter-human lands without the mandate for conquest, without territorialization (Glissant, 1997, p 50, 31). So my ease unraveled into a terrible discursive burden with this old and aging book I wrote but have not read and a subtitle that erases black poetics. I have begun to forget parts of the book and in this have had to face the parts that are unforgettable. The auction blocks, for me, demand a kind of brutal unforgetting.

Katherine McKittrick, “Worn Out”

Las tareas de la violencia

Ahora bien, como la realidad admite intermedios, gracias a los cuales las contradicciones son posibles y se sostienen, sosteniendo a la realidad misma, hay que reconocer que no se da nunca ni un estado de cosas absolutamente constructivo y estable, ni una permanente actividad destructiva que anula toda posible estabilidad. El acto violento, es, entonces, un acto presente al interior de un cierto estado construido, establecido, que goza de una cierta permanencia. Por eso tiene siempre ese carácter irruptivo, sorprendente, “inusual” aunque sea cada vez más común. La violencia no es, por sí misma, buena o mala, pues hemos visto que incluso manifestaciones en pro de valores que nuestra sociedad actual occidental considera “buenos” (i.e. la libertad) son violentas: buscan destruir, mediante la acción, un orden establecido que se presenta como “malo” (porque viola los derechos fundamentales, etc.)

Cristina Pérez Díaz (2011), “Las tareas de la violencia”

Reading on spaces of the Afterblast

I was kindly invited by a creative group to join a reading/showing at E.M. Wolfman bookstore in Oakland, on Thursday May 25, 7-9pm (which cuts incredibly close to my bedtime for a school night!)

Readings and art for the human & nonhuman worlds w/ Elisabeth NiculaKate SchapiraMaya Weeks and myself. There will be projections and readings talking about (my sense so far) marine bioplastics, geologic time and representations, militancy, climate anxiety, logistics and all that.

I’ve been toying around with what I want to discuss that addresses “human and non-human” worlds, and I will probably read a few passages from my work-in-progress manuscript that deal with the spaces of the “afterblast” (after an explosion) and how such fleeting events are recorded by humans and landscapes.

Photo: US Navy, NPS Port Chicago Memorial

Explosive Cultures: Bombscapes and the Order of Law

I’m happy to mention I’ll be one of a cohort of 2018 DHI Faculty Fellows… Here’s a quick blurb of the project:

“Explosive Cultures: Bombscapes and the Order of Law”
Javier Arbona investigates the ordo: the shared spatial, imaginative, and cultural ties between the order of the explosive and the order of the law. Specifically, this project seeks to reveal the cultural landscapes—or “bombscapes”—produced by the seeming opposition, but actual co-evolution, of explosions and the legal attempts to control them.

AMS 5: Technology in American Lives, Winter 2017

Course Overview:

This course presents technology in several perspectives. Above all, the course asks students to go beyond grasping technologies as finished “things” in the world, emerging fully formed—as if by magic— delivered to a doorstep. Instead, we explore the ways in which technology is socially constructed, contested, and continually transformed. Furthermore, we will study the ways in which technology shapes—and is shaped—by culture. Students are expected to produce original writing on these processes. Technology in American Lives (TIAL) draws from interdisciplinary readings that will have several characteristics. More specifically, TIAL is informed by several bodies of scholarly work— including (but not limited to) critical race, cultural, and ethnic studies; feminist, women, gender, and sexuality studies; architectural and landscape history; and, militarization and infrastructure studies. The texts we will read and interpret together are situated in specific geographic, temporal (historical and contemporary), and material contexts. As an intro-level class, TIAL puts the messy world of technologies into an order that we can follow, tracing an arc from the earth to waste over the length of the quarter. Furthermore, we will traverse through many different spatial scales to better understand where technologies come from and how they are developed, drawing from feminist, Marxian, and environmentalist critiques of production. Students that wish to take this course should be aware that we do look critically at technologies, but it is not a rejection of technology; instead, it’s a course devised to begin to introduce students to an imagination of different socio-technical possibilities. TIAL AMS 5 2017 Syllabus