I’m not dead yet


Hey all,

Sorry for the lack of posting this summer— I’m in Gibraltar doing more research for my dissertation on listening as a technology of the state in (de)colonised Gibraltar. To give you a heads up, here’s what’s in the news:

Starting in the fall, I’ll be leaving the Department of Anthropology for the School of Journalism and Communication, where my focus will be in the sociology of communication. This marks a substantial disciplinary switch for me, but not a research change. I’ve always been a utilitarian when it comes to theory, and given that I was already working in the area of sound studies, not much has changed aside from the label of my degree and getting a new advisor whose research/politics is much more in line with mine. I’m very excited, to say the least. On top of that, I feel as if this makes my job prospects much broader in scope: as anthropology departments are increasingly paired with sociology departments, my cross-training in both fields will make me more marketable; and in communications, with the long tradition of sociology of communication, and the new and rising fetishization of anthropology, I will be able to make an inroads into the discipline as a scholar of both.

I’ll also continue teaching anthropology at Lane Community College. I had an epic good time last year (shout out to those of you students who follow my blog), and after stunning (really, I was shocked) student and faculty reviews, they’re having me back this year. I’m also tentatively teaching Anthropology of Mass Communication this year, as well as proposing an Intro to Linguistic Anthropology.

And finally, what am I doing in Gibraltar this year? I’ve got two projects I’m working on and hopefully wrapping up before I leave.

Project 1: This is what I was funded for: I’ll be looking at the political nature of listening to parks as silent. More specifically, I’m looking at how listening to the Alameda Gardens as silent—an ability that seems so far to only be held by tourists and those Gibraltarians that identify as British—is part of a colonial project of erasing non-British-ness from the landscape. The piece I’ll be writing begins with the construction of Gibraltar’s Alameda as a paradisial/biblical Eden, and how the protestant ethics of late British imperialism is what shapes British peoples’ perception of the space as silent (in the presence of screaming children, traffic, etc.). It then uses Roderick Ferguson’s Queer of Color critique to examine how silence is about using listening to make space in the image of white British-ness. Seems sloppy now, because it is. But, it’s generally what I’m thinking.

Project 2: Gibraltarian jazz and a labor history of listening. First a disclaimer- my in on this project is that I am a fantastic jazz bassist (not to toot my own horn, but I do have a bachelor’s in music performance after all). This is a small project in historical sociology/anthropology on the historical relationship between jazz music, labor, and masculinity. A LOT (and I mean a lot) of anthropology has looked at ‘glocalization’ and asked questions about how global forms necessarily adapt to a specific social milieu. This research ALWAYS, or at least I haven’t seen any that doesn’t, privileges the the synchronic-functional analysis made famous by Talcott Parsons, and never utilize the historical-causal approach of Durkheim. Furthermore, this research always looks at the cultural form to see where the cultural is in it. My intervention is three-fold: to a) document the history of Gibraltarian Jazz and the Gibraltarian Jazz Society, b) to introduce a historical approach to globalized glocal forms, and c) to argue that what makes something cultural is not in the cultural form itself, at least when it comes to music. I’ll update more about this once I’ve gotten some more interviews under my belt.

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