The conversation between Jafari S. Allen und Serena O. Dankwa explored different Black postcolonial sites in which desires for (erotic) power, friendship, and intimacy are being negotiated. Both Dankwa’s research into the everyday materiality and provisionality of female same-sex intimacy in Ghana and Allen’s work on transnational Black desires for political empowerment and autonomy transcend analytical boundaries between friendship and sexuality, between scholarship, art, and activism. While considering intimate connections and disconnections across the ‘Black world’, this conversation sought to understand the intertwinement of various forms of struggle and sociality.
Jafari S. Allen is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Anthropology. He works at the intersections of (queer) sexuality, gender, and blackness, and teaches courses on the cultural politics of race, sexuality, and gender in Black diasporas; Black feminist and queer theory. Allen is the author of ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-Making in Cuba (Duke UP, 2011) and editor of Black/Queer/Diaspora – a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies (18:2-3, 2012).
Serena O. Dankwa earned her PhD from the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Berne. Specialized in the study of gender and sexuality in West Africa, her doctoral project focused on practices of female friendship and same-sex intimacy in postcolonial Ghana. In 2010-2011, she was the Sarah Pettit Fellow in LGBT Studies at Yale University. Besides her academic work, she freelances as a music journalist and broadcaster with SRF2 Kultur.
Error 400 – Bad Request: Authorship, Authority, Authenticity in the Experimental Setup
The model of the experiment often comes with the imagined attributes of neutrality and openness, particularly made glamorous by the promise of failure. Ideas of replication, verification, and scalability further reinforce the idea of the experiment as a pure form of knowledge production that can be constructed and repeated as a universal given, thus offering a truth that can be evidenced. Shah proposes that experimental setups depend upon the political, contested, and exclusionary constructions of authorship, authority, and authenticity, which are hidden in the description of the experimental setup. Looking at a postcolonial feminist history of digital technologies, computational networks, and cybernetics, this talk will dismantle the experimental setup by looking at the conditions of asking questions and the need to expand the idea of the experiment beyond the logistics of apparatus, process, and replication.
Nishant Shah is the Vice-President of Research at ArtEZ University of the Arts and a research mentor with the Hivos Foundation’s ‘Digital Earth’ programme. His current preoccupation is with questions of ‘aesthetic warfare’ that examine digital technologies, informational networks, and design practices that shape current post-truth moments and their implications for social justice and human rights interventions.
Lines of Sight: Excursions in Seeing, Feeling, and Knowing
The talk examines the use of historical reenactment, virtual reality (VR), machine learning, and big data in the production of knowledge about the past. Dealing with museum and art exhibits and documentary shorts such as Nazi VR and Triple Chaser, Agnew examines the ways in which new technologies are marshalled and older ones repurposed in order to gather and present compelling historical evidence. Against this backdrop, the talk asks what space remains for interpretation and the articulation of feeling. Is history’s ‘affective turn’ in the process of being superseded?
Vanessa Agnew is a professor of English at the University of Duisburg-Essen and senior fellow at the Australian National University. Her Enlightenment Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds (2008) won the Oscar Kenshur Prize for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the American Musicological Society’s Lewis Lockwood Award. She co-organizes the Critical Thinking programme of the Academy in Exile, which provides fellowships for scholars-at-risk.