Documentary Ethics and Trans Activism in the Philippines (with Curran Nault)

In this week’s episode, guest Curran Nault discusses his article “Documenting the Dead: Call Her Ganda and the Trans Activist Afterlife of Jennifer Laude,” which analyzes the production and circulation of the documentary that Nault co-produced about the murder of transpinay Jennifer Laude by a US marine. Informed by his roles as both producer and media scholar, Nault raises critical questions about the aesthetics and ethics of re-presenting trans death and, ultimately, reflects on the possibilities and limitations of documentary as a trans activist tool.

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Brown Girls, White Feminism, and the Necropolitics of War (with Moon Charania)

In this week’s episode, guest Moon Charania discusses her article “Ethical Whiteness and the Death Drive: White Women as the New War Hero,” which examines how contemporary films use white women protagonists to justify drone warfare and military intervention in the Middle East. Charania argues that media mobilize the figure of the suffering brown girl to elicit empathy and to assuage Western audiences’ guilt about collateral damage in neo-colonial wars. Through what Charania calls “ethical whiteness”, Global North citizens can promote humanitarian causes to rescue Global South brown girls from numerous atrocities without interrogating how their own governments are responsible for creating the conditions for such atrocities.

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The End of the American Media Empires (with Michael Curtin)

In this week’s episode, guest Michael Curtin discusses his article “Post Americana: Twenty-First Century Media Globalization” a wide-reaching examination of the political and social forces that shaped the United States’ dominance in global media during the 20th century. Curtin argues that, after nearly a century of American hegemony, media industries are today growing more plastic and complicated, scaling their ambitions and operations in an increasingly dynamic environment filled with new technologies, shifting audiences, and emerging economies.

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Refugee Selfies and the Media of Migration (with Eszter Zimanyi)

In this week’s episode, guest Eszter Zimanyi discusses her article “Digital Transience: Emplacement and Authorship in Refugee Selfies” which analyzes “refugee selfies” collected from Instagram’s Explore Places map feature as an alternative viewpoint on the so-called 2015 European refugee crisis. Zimanyi argues that that refugee selfies are best conceived as a form of digital transience that provide the refugee with a sense of emplacement in a particular location along with an archive of their movement across locations. At the same time, these digital posts also prompt a disruptive affective charge that forces other viewers of the image to contend with the precarity of the refugee’s existence in any location.

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Liberation and Contagion in the Music of MIA (with Ronak Kapadia)

In this week’s episode, guest Ronak Kapadia discusses his article “Sonic Contagions: Bird Flu, Bandung, and the Queer Cartographies of MIA” which analyzes the work of Sri Lankan diasporic musician, producer, and designer Mathangi Maya Arulpragasam (a.k.a. MIA). MIA’s music offers an opportunity to explore the unlikely intimacies between the diverse histories and political agendas of social movements and radical uprisings across the globe. Kapadia argues that prioritizing the sonic realm in MIA’s work makes available alternative utopian possibilities, offering other ways of hearing and conceptualizing queer collectivity, belonging, and pleasure in the midst of the devastation wrought by security panics and constant warfare.

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The Enduring Sentimiento of Chavela Vargas (with Lorena Alvarado)

In this week’s episode, guest Lorena Alvarado discusses her article “Never Late: Unwelcome Desires and Diasporas in Chavela Vargas’ Last Works” which analyzes how the last two albums of musical performer Chavela Vargas, Cupaima (2006) and ¡Por mi Culpa! (2010), continue making aesthetic choices that de-form the classic repertoire of rancheras and boleros. These musical works represent a “late style” formulated by an older subject that refuses to retire quietly and with docility. Alvarado argues that the mix of beloved, familiar lyrics and melodies with sonic details that evoke the experiences of migrants and Indigenous communities result in an unexpected, repellent musicality that speaks to the contemporary struggles of those unwelcome, despised, and outside neo-liberal chronology.

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