Defect(ed) from anthropology, an update…


Hey blog. How are you? I see you everyday. But you’re never updated. Oh wait, that’s because you need a BLOGGER… my bad.

So, this has been my first term in the school of journalism and communication at UO—I officially left the dept. of anthropology in the fall. The switch has been complicated, and struggling against an identity, to untell the story you worked so hard to make up/craft about yourself is very un-nerving.

But, the fit is so good. In my classes, not only have I found all of those missing parts that I needed to push my research, but I’ve discovered new ideas that I thought didn’t exist—turns out anthropology prides itself in re-inventing the wheel. And, no longer do I have to deal with the baggage of a militarized, colonial discipline, in addition to the colonial baggage of my own research agenda—answering ‘how do you do postcolonial work in Gibraltar as an American’ is easier when not having to answer ‘and aren’t anthropologists the hand-maidens of colonialism?’ Of course, I still partially identify as an anthropologist (it’s complicated?), and still teach intro to cultural anthropology at Lane Community College- to me, more a political project than a disciplinary one, providing students critical tools for connecting the cultural and the social, and making sense of how the latter’s.

My project has not changed, but become entirely more clear. Turns out having the right analytic tools can really clear up some conceptual problems. And, as opposed to being a hurdle that obscures the research I actually want to do so as to pander to a [dying] discipline, my comprehensive exams will focus my project within a theoretical and political context—with a nod to the field/un-discipline of communication studies. And the intellectual project of cultural/communication studies is so much more in line with my own intellectual politics; I

always thought it was such a waste for [a majority] of anthropologists to be constrained to only topics as they pertain to a specific geographic area (yes, you could be one of those that defied this, but you were either already well established in the discipline, or cast out as ‘not a real anthropologist’—e.g. Daniel Miller vs. Ernest Gellner or Marc Augé). Now that I’m in cultural/comm studies, having published work on psychodramas of neoliberalism in zombie walks in Toronto, listening as a technology of citizenship in Gibraltar, the closure of NASA’s manned shuttle program being a result of its failure as a mode of colonial capitalism, and the ways Xbox Kinect games carry a sexualized division of labor in racial formation, all makes sense. In the cultural studies tradition, I’m a feminist marxist postcolonial scholar—I don’t like the term ‘theory’, afterall, I’m a materialist. While I specialize in examining how listening is both product and production of power relationships along matricies of gender, race, and class , I also look at the polymorphous nature of neoliberalism and its dependence on a sexual

division of labor and colonialism. My work in Gibraltar examines how listening is a site for the intersection of the state and the subject, and functions as a technology of colonial citizenship, reproducing strategies for the maintenance and operationalization of colonial power (and lines of force, for you Deleuze readers out there). My other work compliments this by finding new nooks and crannies of thought for my main project.

And my advisor… wow. She gets it. She’s right there, every time I write something dumb its covered in red ink, and every time I say something smart, it’s got even more red ink. The mentoring I receive is beyond explainable, and I’ve grown exponentially in the past couple of months because of her guidance. And the rest of my dissertation committee is absolutely mind-blowingly brilliant.

So, this switch has been great. Now that the ‘hazing’ term is done—you know, being a competitive program, they work you to the bone the first term to make sure you’re serious—, I’ll have more time to blog, and more time to do my own work. Lord knows I have a pile of stuff to push to press now. Here’s what’s coming out of my research:

GRANT WRITING: soooo much. But, a staple for international researchers. While anthropology slowly eats itself from the inside by requiring students to do a year of fieldwork, in an economic context where money is tight, communications is doing the old-school sociological short burst method. So, I’m hoping that, by asking for less, I’ll get more. (pres of NSF and W-G have publicly stated that they’d rather fund 8 months of research in a place where the US has completely devalued the currency, than 3 months in an ‘expensive’ [read non-enslaved] country. The irony). http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2011/10/28/wenner-gren-president-and-nsf-cultural-anthropology-program-director-discuss-funding/

Research: Let’s see. Working on a project to discuss the history of listening to Gibraltar’s alameda as silent, and writing a proposal for looking at how hearing impaired Gibratlarians listen to urban space. I’ve also finished stuff on the colonial ethos that connects the closure of NASA’s manned space program and the dot.com boom, and realized a implicit reliance on—if not a love for— Max Weber’s complex theory of historical causality, which I would say was certainly a necessity for Foucault’s genealogical and archeological thinking, and Deleuze’s post/meta-genealogy. Also, under review at Feminist Media Studies and TV & New Media are my papers on Dance Central and Kinectimals, respectively.

Other than that, not much is going on. I’m getting ready for another term, with three exciting classes: qualitative methods, quantitative methods, and a fantastic new course on the History(s- my s, why does everyone want one history?) and Theories of New Media. For the methods classes, I’ll be working on a project around the historical shift between the terms ‘hip hop’ and ‘rap’ in the New York Times, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the LA Times (East coast, Dirty South, and West Coast). On the one hand, this fills a gap in the hip hop studies

literature that has as to now recognized a shift, but never really mined it; on the other hand, it takes into account Evalyn Nakano Glenn’s observation in the book ‘unequal freedom’ that racial formations have their own regional histories, and that each reveals the ways in which racism is a discursive formation of microagressions and not one overarching project. My intent is to show the ways in which major moves between terms is often a signification of a specific type of racial formation in the context of moral crises over bourgeois populism (say, with Wild Style and the adoption of hip hop into art galleries) and black masculinity (i.e. gangster problems). For the internet class, I’ll be writing a book review on the Steve Jobs’ biography as a history of neoliberal [white] masculinity, and spending more time on my NASA project. The course ends with an unconference where I’ll be proposing a session called ‘histories from the outside- what made new media?’

And with that rather lengthy update, I leave you. But, now that I’m out of the hazing term, I’ll have more time to update you (that is, you the blog- but you the reader are welcome) about once a week.

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