Posts Tagged ‘identity’

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Happiness and Its Discontents

January 22, 2014

As a critical theorist working at the intersection of Continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, and feminist and queer theory, I make observations about human life that are speculative rather than empirical. That may explain why my definition of character pertains to what is least tangible, least intelligible about our being, including the inchoate frequencies of desire that sometimes cause us to behave in ways that work against our rational understanding of how our lives are supposed to turn out.

If identity captures something about the relatively polished social persona we present to the world, then character—in my view—captures something about the wholly idiosyncratic and potentially rebellious energies that, every so often, break the facade of that persona. From this perspective, our character leaps forth whenever we do something “crazy,” such as suddenly dissolving a committed relationship or leaving a promising career path. At such moments, what is fierce and unapologetic about us undermines our attempts to lead a “reasonable” life, causing us to follow an inner directive that may be as enigmatic as it is compelling. We may not know why we feel called to a new destiny, but we sense that not heeding that call will stifle what is most alive within us.

Text by Mari Rutti at The Chronicle Review. Continue THERE

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What Is the International Community?

June 8, 2013

Despite the frequency with which the phrase “international community” is invoked, its precise meaning – like its origins – is difficult to discern. And, as France’s recent intervention in Mali has shown, this ambiguity lies at the root of many of today’s most urgent foreign-policy problems.

For some, an international community simply does not exist. For others, the term refers, more pragmatically, to all countries when they decide to act together. Still another, more accurate definition encompasses all countries with international influence – that is, any country whose identity and sovereignty is recognized, and that chooses to participate in global discussions and decision-making.

Beyond semantics lies the more consequential, but equally ambiguous, question of the international community’s role and responsibility. Just as too broad a definition could undermine a country’s sovereignty, too narrow a definition – like that which seems to predominate today – allows violence and instability to proliferate.

Excerpt from an article written by Michel Rocard, one of Europe’s leading statesmen, was Prime Minister of France from 1988-1991.
Continue HERE

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Bonding with your virtual self may alter your actual perceptions

May 13, 2013

When people create and modify their virtual reality avatars, the hardships faced by their alter egos can influence how they perceive virtual environments, according to researchers.

A group of students who saw that a backpack was attached to an avatar that they had created overestimated the heights of virtual hills, just as people in real life tend to overestimate heights and distances while carrying extra weight, according to Sangseok You, a doctoral student in the school of information, University of Michigan.

“You exert more of your agency through an avatar when you design it yourself,” said S. Shyam Sundar, Distinguished Professor of Communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, Penn State, who worked with You. “Your identity mixes in with the identity of that avatar and, as a result, your visual perception of the virtual environment is colored by the physical resources of your avatar.”

Researchers assigned random avatars to one group of participants, but allowed another group to customize their avatars. In each of these two groups, half of the participants saw that their avatar had a backpack, while the other half had avatars without backpacks, according to You.

Text and image via Penn State News. Continue reading THERE

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Advertising and Consumer Culture: Postgraduate Symposium

February 15, 2013

“Commercial speech – advertising – makes up most of what we share as a culture…As the language of commercialism has become louder, the language of high culture has become quieter.” – James B. Twitchell, Twenty Ads that Shook the World

Throughout the modern period, advertising and consumer culture have dominated everyday life; moreover, the trappings of commercialism permeate much of supposed ‘high culture’. Commodities clutter the pages of novels from Dickens and Zola to Bret Easton Ellis; works by Joyce and DeLillo are enlivened by advertising jingles and slogans; brands and trademarks pervade the practice of artists from Picasso to Warhol and the visualisation of consumer desire is appropriated and challenged in the work of Richard Hamilton and Martha Rosler.

Whether celebrating or critiquing advertising and consumer culture, art reflects our enduring fascination with them, despite research into the psychological effects of advertising, concerns over the evils of consumerism, and the often sinister nature of market research. The recent television show Mad Men, for instance, has revivified interest and scholarly debate surrounding the power of advertising and the consumer, as well as restaging debates around sexism, truth and the heteronormative ideal. Meanwhile, sociology in the wake of Erving Goffman continues to explore advertising’s uses and abuses of gender, identity and desire. Countervailing against consumerism and advertising’s many critics, theorists such as Michel de Certeau and the critical movement Thing Theory have endeavoured to examine advertising and consumer culture from a standpoint that goes beyond the model of the ‘passive consumer’ or Marx’s account of commodity fetishism.

Topics for discussion may include but are by no means limited to:

– The ways in which advertising and consumer culture intersect with issues of class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity
– Psychological/psychoanalytic perspectives on advertising and consumer behaviour; how identity is created and reflected through participation in consumer culture; the legacy of Freud and Bernays.
– How artists have appropriated the techniques of advertising, or have been co-opted by advertising and commodity culture (Koons, Rosler, Murakami, Kusama and Hirst) -Theorists who have engaged with advertising and consumer culture (Adorno, Barthes, Baudrillard, Certeau, Fukuyama, Goffman, Klein, Marx, McLuhan).
– The use of music in advertisements.
– The formal innovations literature has adopted to create a poetics of advertising/consumer culture.
– Shopping, the rise of the department store, brand names, and their representation in culture.
– Histories of advertising agencies or ‘ad-men’.
– How the importance of advertising in art may challenge the boundaries between high and low culture and/or modernism and postmodernism.
– Anti-consumerist movements (the Situationist International, Adbusters) and strategies (détournement, culture jamming).
– The recent transformations advertising has undergone as a result of social media -The advert as spectacle or ‘event’ (celebrity endorsements, Christmas advertising, product placement, Pawel Althamer’s Real Time Movie).
– Figures who have worked in advertising, either before or during their artistic careers (Fitzgerald, Rushdie, DeLillo, Warhol, Lynch).
– Political advertising and the roles of politics in advertising.

Submissions are now open for the Advertising and Consumer Culture symposium. More info HERE

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When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, And The Technology Of Identity

January 9, 2013

From digital fingerprinting to iris and retina recognition, biometric identification systems are a multibillion dollar industry and an integral part of post-9/11 national security strategy. Yet these technologies often fail to work. The scientific literature on their accuracy and reliability documents widespread and frequent technical malfunction. Shoshana Amielle Magnet argues that these systems fail so often because rendering bodies in biometric code falsely assumes that people’s bodies are the same and that individual bodies are stable, or unchanging, over time. By focusing on the moments when biometrics fail, Magnet shows that the technologies work differently, and fail to function more often, on women, people of color, and people with disabilities. Her assessment emphasizes the state’s use of biometrics to control and classify vulnerable and marginalized populations—including prisoners, welfare recipients, immigrants, and refugees—and to track individuals beyond the nation’s territorial boundaries. When Biometrics Fail is a timely, important contribution to thinking about the security state, surveillance, identity, technology, and human rights.

When Biometrics Fail: Gender, Race, and the Technology of Identity
by Shoshana Amielle Magnet

Text and Image via BiblioVault

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The Social Media Reader

December 12, 2012

With the rise of web 2.0 and social media platforms taking over vast tracts of territory on the internet, the media landscape has shifted drastically in the past 20 years, transforming previously stable relationships between media creators and consumers. The Social Media Reader is the first collection to address the collective transformation with pieces on social media, peer production, copyright politics, and other aspects of contemporary internet culture from all the major thinkers in the field.

Culling a broad range and incorporating different styles of scholarship from foundational pieces and published articles to unpublished pieces, journalistic accounts, personal narratives from blogs, and whitepapers, The Social Media Reader promises to be an essential text, with contributions from Lawrence Lessig, Henry Jenkins, Clay Shirky, Tim O’Reilly, Chris Anderson, Yochai Benkler, danah boyd, and Fred von Loehmann, to name a few. It covers a wide-ranging topical terrain, much like the internet itself, with particular emphasis on collaboration and sharing, the politics of social media and social networking, Free Culture and copyright politics, and labor and ownership. Theorizing new models of collaboration, identity, commerce, copyright, ownership, and labor, these essays outline possibilities for cultural democracy that arise when the formerly passive audience becomes active cultural creators, while warning of the dystopian potential of new forms of surveillance and control.

Text and Image via NYU Press

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A Carefully Crafted F**k You: Nathan Schneider interviews Judith Butler

August 30, 2012

Judith Butler’s philosophy is an assault on common sense, on the atrophy of thinking. It untangles not only how ideas compel us to action, but how unexamined action leaves us with unexamined ideas—and, then, disastrous politics. Her work over the last few years has been devoted to challenging the Bush/Cheney-era torpor that came over would-be dissenters in the face of two wars and an acquiescent electorate. She does so not with policy prescriptions or electoral tactics, but with an analysis of the habits of thinking and doing that stand behind them. It is in response to the suffering of others, she insists, of innocent victims in particular, that we must come to terms with the world as it is and act in it.

Butler is, at University of California at Berkeley, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature. Her reputation is secure as the most important theorist of gender in the last quarter century, thanks to books like Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (1993). The thrust of her contribution is to destabilize—to queer—identity by disentangling the fragile performances that give rise to it. Whether in gender politics or geopolitics, her analysis shows how failing to grasp these sources of identity blinds us to the common humanity of others.

Excerpt from Nathan Schneider’s interview via Guernica. Continue HERE