I. The City of Radical Memory: Spaces of Home Front Repression and Resistance in the San Francisco Bay Area
My first book project (based on my doctoral dissertation research) draws on archival materials, oral histories, and on-site walks through the World War II home front in the San Francisco Bay Area. The project reopens shuttered spaces of World War II memory to examine the spatial register of Jim Crow segregation in the U.S. Navy on the form of the city, and recognize African American radicalism and resistance against violence. I anticipate having a complete draft of the manuscript by December 2017 for submission to prospective editors. I have an article from the project published in Landscape Journal, and a chapter in an edited collection called Urban Reinventions: San Francisco’s Treasure Island (in September 2017 from the University of Hawaii Press, edited by Tanu Sankalia and Lynne Horiuchi).
In addition, I’ve collaborated for several years on archival research and interviews with the University of California’s Bancroft Library Oral History Office, Rosie the Riveter World War II National Home Front project. I continue to loosely serve as an Affiliate with the Bancroft.
II. The Urban Security Cloud
In an experimental project that began in 2013, I collaborate with Bryan Finoki and Nick Sowers on an ongoing basis, and in specific instances, with a wider group of performers, activists, designers, editors, and curators. In this project, we build –critically– on longer artistic trajectories in psychogeography (and psychogeology), situationism, and sound to materially understand “the cloud” as an everyday surveillance apparatus and a complex assemblage that produces emergent and often misapprehended conditions. We’re interested in problems of visuality and representation of the cloud, seeking new ways to sense networks. In this way, we aim to use infrastructures, following, for example, the work of Eric Trovalla and Ulrika Trovalla, as divination tools to “grasp a thickness of urban becomings—a cityness on the move, according to its own unique logic.”
Portions of this project have become texts, public walks, and sound installations that we continue to develop. See:
- Javier Arbona, Bryan Finoki, and Nick Sowers, “Suspunk: Thinking with Suspicious Packages” in Harvard Design Magazine #42 (2016).
- DEMILIT, “Footprinting Secrecy” in Volume, number 36, pgs. 68-71; PDF: V36_Demilit_full_2013.
- Léopold Lambert produced a podcast (along with maps) based on a walk in Oakland and wrote a piece for DAMN magazine.
- Ben Valentine reviewed a Macro City conference event for core77.
- An in-progress sound lab space in Oakland.
- An article for The Funambulist no. 1: Militarized Cities.
Portions of this investigation have begun to take on a larger role through our repeating walks, and are emerging as more mature investigations in the their own right, eventually leading to what will become, in part, journal articles and/or a book manuscript. Three distinct strands have grown out from this investigation:
IIa. Suspicious Packages: A challenge to the parameters of design practice through an intimate engagement with the meanings of suspicious packages, leading us to examine more closely the production of security paradigms around the improvised and informal, eventually helping to generate new spatial concepts. A portion of this work appears in a forthcoming piece for the Harvard Design Magazine (see above). I am presented portions at the 2016 American Association of Geographers Conference in San Francisco, and the Regional Studies Association (North America chapter) in Atlanta.
IIb. Police Memorials: A historical examination of the role of the cop memorial, and the relationships of such architecture to the perpetuation of digital memory for policing itself; this began as a written piece for The New Inquiry and has continued through further study, with recent talks at the University of Michigan Taubman College, at Princeton University School of Architecture, at the UC Berkeley Landscape Colloquium, and the AAG. This part of the project might eventually connect to a loose collaboration with librarian Jordan Hale in which we are interested in the affective landscapes of patriotic grieving (e.g. at baseball games) and archives of the immaterial.
IIc. Explosive Cultures: As a part of walks of the “urban security cloud” and our incessant monitoring of security alerts, I started to develop a deeper curiosity for the beginnings of explosivity: measurement of explosions and explosive-related technologies. I will be developing more of this project with a DHI Fellowship in 2018 and a working group at the UC Irvine Humanities Institute.
III. The UnCommonwealth
An early stage project that began in Puerto Rico… I am interested in contemporary artists working to confront, or challenge, conditions and ideas of neoliberal austerity and governance, particularly in the context of the ‘crisis’ of the U.S. commonwealth territorial formulation. My inquiry was initially an attempt to understand how a de-colonizing imagination can break from the often unremarked ways in which colonization tattoos itself onto contemporary space, often most strongly at (though not limited to) sites of ongoing securitization. But my curiosity continues to seek out different modes of production, relation, and representation. I’ve written on artists such as Noemí Segarra and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz. (For some of my previous work in Puerto Rico on the military, colonialism, and the environment, see: “Vieques, Puerto Rico: From Devastation to Conservation and Back Again,” Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, Volume XVII, Number 1, Berkeley: The International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments, 33-50. PDF)