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CANCELLED - Dust, between Life and Death: Reflections on the Materiality of Media

CANCELLED - Dust, between Life and Death: Reflections on the Materiality of Media
1 Devonshire Place, Room 108N, Munk School of Global Affairs
Time: Oct 21st, 2:00 pm End: Oct 21st, 4:00 pm
Interest Categories: East Asian Studies (FAS), Anthropology (UTSC), Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-
Talk by Ralph A Litzinger, Duke University


The Asian Institute presents

Dust, between Life and Death: Reflections on the Materiality of Media

This paper begins with Zhao Liang’s Behemoth (????), a controversial experimental film on extractive industries and the lost bodies and ghosts that roam the ruined and toxic landscapes of Inner Mongolia. My interest in this film is part of a larger project asking how we might study the dust that causes industrial explosions, that gathers in gold and coalmines, in the lungs, becomes a part of the everyday for those who care for the near dead, or mourn the already gone. We live now in a moment marked by air pollution masks as fashion statements. We know masking is performed on social media platforms. And we know all about mostly western media attempts to portray China as an eco-apocalyptic death zone. Lost in this media frenzy are those hidden away in factories or those workers who labour underground, those often denied masks and respirators. This takes me into stories of scholars and activists who care for the sick and the dying, who work to make dust legible. Dust kills and it creates demands for justice and forms of compensation, even though these activists and families know that lives sacrificed for national wealth and global media connectivity can never be reclaimed. I conclude with some thoughts on how our own tools of research and storytelling – mobile phones, digital cameras and images, social media platforms, batteries, cables and clouds – are implicated in the dust that enters the everyday lives of miners and industrial workers, in China and elsewhere. How dust is part of the global everyday.

Ralph Litzinger is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. He is the author of Other Chinas: the Yao and the Politics of National Belonging (Duke University Press, 2000). His most recent book, with Carlos Rojas, is Ghost Protocol: Development and Displacement in Global China (Duke University Press, 2016). He has published on dam protests and environmental politics in southwest China, on rural-urban migration, and suicide as a form of protest in contemporary China. He is the editor of the “Labor Question in China: Apple and Beyond,” in South Atlantic Quarterly in 2013, and co-editor of “Self Immolation as Protest in Tibet,” a 2012 online issue of Cultural Anthropology. He is currently completing a book manuscript called Migrant Futures: China from the Urban Fringe. His new research concerns eco-media, media materialism, and the visualization of the Anthropocene.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact Rachel Ostep  416-946-8996

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