Crossing Borders – Border Crossings

Allen Feldman (New York University) 

Xenophobic Technicities: A Media Archeology

June 14, 2017, 18:00
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Main Building, Unter den Linden 6, Room 2249a
The predominant moralizing and psychological reading of xenophobia in the humanities and social sciences associates its practice and discourse with irrational fears and cultural-regression antithetical to modernity and liberal democracy. The constitutive force of optical media and related forensic technologies in the institutionalization and instrumentation of xenophobia has been neglected, or rendered secondary in the reduction of technicity to tactical utensils for the conveyance of phobogenic imaginaries and practices. Phobogenic technicity and mediology are neither historically regressive nor irrational but integral to the cultural formation of modernity and its operative rationalities. A media archeology of fear moves beyond the perspective that techniques of phobo-genesis merely enable pre-existing postures of cultural aversion. Rather this archeology excavates a techno-cultural historical tendency towards computational programs of identifiability, anomaly detection and pattern recognition as design elements embedded in xenophobia as a political-cultural practice. Consequently, a media archeology of phobia refocuses the reading of technological genesis towards its pursuit of the positivity and calculability of the abnormal, the errant, the traumatic and the catastrophic.

Allen Feldman is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University where he teaches Visual Culture and the Philosophy of Media. He is a cultural/political anthropologist/ethnographer and the author of  the newly published book Archives of the Insensible: of War, Photopolitics and Dead Memory (2016), and Formations of Violence: the Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland (1994). He has published numerous essays on critical war studies and the political sensorium in such journals as Public Culture, PMLA, Cultural Studies, American Ethnologist, Social Text and Radical History Review.  Feldman has conducted ethnographic research on visual culture, political animality, the body and the senses, and transitional justice in Northern Ireland, South Africa and on the global war on terror. He has been a visiting professor at Central European University, Budapest, The University of Lund, The Humanities Institute, Ljubljana, and taught Master Classes at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University. His  two books in process are entitled: Xenophobic Technicities: A Media Archeology and War Under Erasure: the Accident as Dispositive.