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

Drafting “Research Methods and Critical Writing for Design”

I had some time to begin to develop the graduate research course I will teach in Design, Winter quarter 2017. This is a draft (and only a draft):

Course Description

This graduate research seminar in Design intends to pose two interrelated challenges:

  • First, if one can identify something as a problem for designers to address, then how come the discipline has not addressed it? In other words, with an eye toward history and society, this course asks you to place your concerns as a designer into a context as to why those concerns come to matter (“matter,” as in a matter of concern, but also physical matter, i.e. become tangible).
  • Second, how can ‘research’ help elucidate why design has or has not resolved a certain ‘problem’? Put differently, through critical readings and discussion that address issues of (but not limited to) race, class, gender, disability, sexuality, and the past, we will explore what does (and, importantly, doesn’t) trouble the discipline of design. To do this, we will seek to theorize research itself in order to refine our methods of research.
nasamaersshort
NASA/Ames Research Center, 7/14/1989, Virtual Environment Reality workstation technology (helmet & gloves)

Explained in a different sense, this course sets up the proposition that the production of knowledge is not a linear progression, and thus the kinds of certainties we are convinced about are, in fact, contingent; these contingencies relate back to how we go about deciding what can—and cannot—constitute research.

Or, as somewhat elucidated in the infamous words of Donald Rumsfeld, “(…)as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” In his own perplexing imagination, what Rumsfeld accidentally was getting at was, at the core, that sensing an unknowability demands not only problematizing its other, knowability, but in effect, unknowability itself. He posed, in short, a puzzle about the nature of evidence or data, and how to go about collecting it.

A few additional key points… This course will also ask MFA students to think of design and research as two domains that continually co-make each other, never leaving one behind for the other, and thus, we will seek to trouble research through modes of thinking like designers, while also seeking to trouble design by subjecting it to research practices, understanding such practices in the broadest possible way we can.

To do this, we seek to look outwards; to research how designers have posed questions and sought answers, and in parallel, how different fields of knowledge go about performing research (and “perform” is another important keyword to think about, too). Students in the course will be expected to do both, such that they learn about the history of design and to read authors seeking clues to how they designed their research.

*****

I don’t have the final readings for the course yet, but the long list includes an eclectic mix of theorists, historians, anthropologists, designers, artists, geographers, etc. The list includes Shannon Mattern, Reyner Banham, Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, Marisol de la Cadena, Hugh Gusterson, Minh Ha T. Pham, Alberto Corsín Jiménez, David Gissen, Anne Galloway, Arturo Escobar, Gilles Deleuze, Judith Butler, Sunaura Taylor, Anna Tsing, Alison Kafer, Orit Halpern, Natasha Dow Schüll, Keller Easterling, Shiloh Krupar, Simone Browne, Louise Amoore, Rashad Shabazz, Bruno Latour, Shannon Cram, Michelle Murphy, Mimi Thi Nguyen, Fred Turner, and Felicity Scott. Any suggestions for the long list are welcome.

My idea is to maybe assign two readings (or two modules of shorter readings, perhaps) and divide the class into two readings groups per week. We’ll have, then, two rounds of discussion and one group has to listen to the discussion of the other group, and take notes. Students will take turns submitting summaries and notes. The last segment of each week will be reserved for general questions and suggestions around the progress of student research projects.

The course will also include a workshop on human subjects protocols with someone from the Research office on campus. We will also discuss proposal writing. Students will develop their own projects and submit a final essay, which could be a draft section for their final thesis.

It is possible that there will be some field trips to research spaces on campus, but it is not a guarantee.

 

Event — Nov. 10 colloquium: “Black and Blight” with Andrew Herscher

“Black homes matter.”  In the summer of 2015, this affirmation was painted on a fence erected by community members and volunteers from Detroit Eviction Defense next to a house whose owner was facing eviction.  What can architectural history offer to a reading of this affirmation?  This study explores the intersection of race, space, and housing in the American city by focusing on “blight”: a term that has been deployed to characterize urban difference from the early 20th century into the present. Posed as “blight,” the uneven urban development endemic to capitalist urbanism was often refracted through white supremacist politics and framed as a “problem” that could be “solved” by city planning, zoning, urban renewal, and other technical means. In so doing, studies of and actions against “blight” masked contradictions in capitalist urbanism and spatialized race in uneven urban development. 

More info here

General outline for Technology in American Lives

Posting this here, quickly, for discussion and feedback… I have been developing the final reading list for Winter quarter, AMS 5, Technology in American Lives, in preparation of the final syllabus. I previously posted about the course here. This is a test. This is only a test. N.B. The readings are geared toward an intro level course.

[JANUARY]

BEGINNINGS

10 – What is a technology? What are “American lives”?

12 – Mumford (1934; 2010), Technics and Civilization, Ch. II –OR– Langdon Winner (1980), “Do Artifacts Have Politics”

ELEMENTS AND EXTRACTION

17 – Brechin (2006), “The Pyramid of Mining,” Imperial San Francisco

19 ­– Cronon (1992), Rails and Water, Nature’s Metropolis [&/OR excerpt from Voyles’ Wastelanding]

BODIES AND EMBODIMENTS

24 – Laura Briggs (2003), “Debating Reproduction: Birth Control, Eugenics, and Overpopulation in Puerto Rico, 1920-1940,” from: Reproducing Empire: Race, Sex, Science, and U.S. Imperialism in Puerto Rico

26 – Nayan Shah (2001), from: Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown –OR– Kim TallBear (2013), selection from: Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science [or journal article]

SITUATING AND SITUATEDNESS

31 – Simone Browne (2012) “Everybody’s Got a Little Light Under the Sun: Black Luminosity and the Visual Culture of Surveillance” (article) –OR– excerpt from book, Dark Matters

[FEBRUARY]

2 – Susan Schulten (2012), “Slavery and the Origin of Statistical Cartography” (likely selection) from: Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America

*MIDTERM WEEK*

7 – DOCUMENTARY OR FILM SCREENING

9 – EXAM DUE

TECHNOSPACES

14 – Michelle Murphy (2006), “Building Ladies into the Office Machine” (likely selection), from: Sick Building Syndrome and the Problem of Uncertainty: Environmental Politics, Technoscience, and Women Workers

16 – Natasha Dow Schüll (2012), excerpt from: Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas

Optional reading from Shannon Mattern

RESEARCH/POWER

21 – Janet Abbate (2000), (probably) “White Heat and Cold War: The Origins and Meanings of Packet Switching” from: Inventing the Internet 

Additional readings from: Kazys Varnelis, The Centripetal City; Ingrid Burrington in The Atlantic

23 – Jack Kloppenburg (1990; 2005), First the Seed the Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology, 1492-2000 –OR– Alondra Nelson (2016), The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome

DISCARDS

28 – Alexa Dietrich (2013), selection from: The Drug Company Next Door: Pollution, Jobs, and Community Health in Puerto Rico –&/OR– Pellow and Park (2002), The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy

Additional reading from Maya Weeks

[MARCH]

2 – Shiloh Krupar (2013), selection from: Hot Spotter’s Report: Military Fables of Toxic Waste

Additional reading from Shannon Cram

THE WORD ITSELF

7 – Langdon Winner (1980), “Do Artifacts Have Politics” –&/Or Leo Marx (2010), “Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept”

9 – Wendy Faulkner (2001), “The Technology Question in Feminism: A View from Feminist Technology Studies”

CLOSINGS

14 – Antoine Picon (2000), “Anxious Landscapes: From Ruins to Rust”

Conclusions and evals.

16 – Exam Review

 

Event Oct. 6, 4p.m. » Naomi Paik—Rightlessness: Hunger Strikes, Force-feeding, and Testimony at Guantánamo

http://dhi.ucdavis.edu/event/rightlessness-hunger-strikes-force-feeding-and-testimony-at-guantnamo

Event on Oct. 6, 4p.m. Hart 3201

A. Naomi Paik will address themes raised in her new book, Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps Since World War II, which grapples with the history of U.S. prison camps that have confined people outside the boundaries of legal and civil rights. Removed from the social and political communities that would guarantee fundamental legal protections, these detainees are effectively rightless, stripped of the right even to have rights. Specifically, this talk will focus on both the bodily practices of and discourses surrounding prisoner practices of self-harm and the U.S. state’s efforts to preserve life, in particular, its force-feeding of hunger strikers at the current Guantánamo camp. By interpreting the testimonies of hunger strikers, Paik examines the prisoner body as a site of power and struggle waged between the U.S. state and the prisoners, who attempt to seize their own form of habeas corpus, taking their bodies back from the camp regime, by inflicting self-harm.