Antiracism, Inc: A (Storified?) Quarter in Review

Cross-posted on UC Humanities Forum and HASTAC.

UC Santa Barbara’s American Cultures and Global Contexts Center (ACGCC), part of the Department of English, just wrapped up its first quarter of events under its new director, Dr. Felice Blake. The Center’s theme this year, “Antiracism, Inc,”

thinks through the meaning of antiracism in light of contemporary shifts in global political discourses on race and racism. Current rhetoric on race purports to embrace principles of racial equality, anti-discrimination and multiculturalism; yet old and new forms of racial violence, exploitation and discrimination persist.

ACGCC Website

The program is designed to help attendees recognize new forms of colorblind racism and collectively develop a vocabulary and critical resources for responding to them. Over the course of the year, “Antiracism, Inc.,” includes, among other events, an open-to-the-public film and reading series. I’ve had the good fortune to attend and participate in this quarter’s reading series, which featured three lunch meetings led by different scholars. I was invited to co-lead one of their sessions with Alison Reed, the Graduate Fellow of the Center.

One of my favorite conference participation activities is the Live Tweet, a public notes-taking practice that has recently caused a lot of self-reflection on the blogosphere. I won’t spend much time rehashing points that have been made, but I will point you to a few relevant resources if you’re curious: Adeline Koh’s Storify of #Twittergate; Tressie McMillan Cottom, “An Idea is a Dangerous Thing to Quarantine,” Jessica Marie Johnson, “Context, Black History, and Asking the Right Questions (#Twittergate, #ASALH, #TransformDH)”; and Alexis Lothian, “Academic twitter: ethics and conversational nuance.” I like being part of the backchannel at a conference, especially the larger ones like #ASA2012 (post about that to come soon!) or MLA. However, for smaller events like this which don’t have much of a Twitter attendance, the main function for me is to broadcast the event to tweeps who might not be there but would be interested in the presentations.

I thought I’d play around with Storify in order to aggregate the live tweeting I did to document/take notes/broadcast the event to the outside world. For those of you who don’t know about it, Storify is a tool that allows you to aggregate social media posts like Tweets into a timeline of events that you can arrange, narrate, and export to other blog platforms as available. I discovered that importing a Storify to WordPress causes unpleasant load times, but please see my notes on the first two events, “Race and Moral Panics” and “Race and Affect” here to get a sense of the scope of the events and conversation.

Since Alison Reed and I led the third event, “Racial/Digital/Performance,” there was no live tweeting to be had, but that particular conversation was about motion capture technology in video games and film and racial performance – a project on which we are currently working. Our presentation (and our work on this project) breaks the single-authority format on which so much humanities work depends, combining her expertise in Black queer performance studies and mine in video games and technology. I’ll post some further thoughts on this soon, but suffice it to say that there are really fascinating and problematic structures at play in historical and contemporary motion capture animation technologies.

Everyone at the ACGCC is quite pleased with the turnout for these events, and I hope my tweeting helped them reach a larger audience than they otherwise would; at the very least, it has provided me with a useful record of notes that I have already consulted for blogs, conversations, and research into the topics covered. Next quarter, Antiracism, Inc., will host a film series – follow my tweets @NazcaTheMad for future live coverage of those events!

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