seminar in media and political theory
The 2021-22 GEM Seminar is organized around the problem of In/Convenience and is co-organized by the Platform Lab.
The felt sense that we inhabit a convenience economy and culture is by now widespread. Nested in this understanding are ideas about ease and comfort, perpetually new technologies, and empowered consumers, on the one hand, and growing inequalities and frictions between the speed and exhaustion that convenience engenders, on the other. While conveniences involve the social production of inequality, a focus on ease, time, and technologized efficiency are not sufficient to grasp and critique this shared sense of a divided world. Convenience is a condition we inhabit within contemporary capitalism, and must be submitted to rigorous analysis, historical and conceptual. That even proponents of radical politics assume that convenience will be part of a post-capitalist society, suggests the relational nature of what the working group will explore as in/convenience. Responding to this condition requires us to think beyond simply not clicking “buy now."
The seminar draws on a collaborative research project led by Joshua Neves and Marc Steinberg examining the culture and politics of in/convenience, and will include three reading group meetings and culminate in a virtual conference on April 21-22, 2022 (featuring: Neta Alexander, Armin Beverungen, Darren Byler, Susan Cahill, Melissa Gregg, Orit Halpern, Mél Hogan, Tung-hui Hu and Josh Lepawsky).
February 4th @ 1pm >> Read and discuss Joshua Neves and Marc Steinberg’s essay, “In Convenience”
February 24 @ 4pm >> Read and discuss Seb Franklin’s The Digitally Disposed: Racial Capitalism and the Informatics of Value
March 17 @ 4pm >> Read and discuss Emily West’s Buy Now: How Amazon Branded Convenience and Normalized Monopoly
April 21-22 >> Conference
To register for the working group please email: firstname.lastname@example.org (use subject “convenience”). The success of the working group depends on building a conversation over the course of the term, so we ask participants to commit to attending each of the sessions and to carefully reading the suggested material.
Conference Schedule + Abstracts
Thursday, April 21, 2022
10:00 – 10:15: Welcome + Virtual Coffee
10:15 – 10:30: Joshua Neves & Marc Steinberg, Introduction to In/Convenience
10:30 – 11:25: Armin Beverungen, “Collectivizing Convenience? From Fulfillment to Logisticality”
11:30 – 12:30: Orit Halpern, “The Future Will not be Calculated: Hayek, AI, and Conspiratorial Politics”
4:00 – 4:55: Tung-Hui Hu, “Media, Infrastructure, and the Open Secret”
5:00 – 6:00: Melissa Gregg & Josh Lepawsky, “The Inconvenience of e-Waste”
Friday, April 22, 2022
10:00 – 10:55: Neta Alexander, “The Right to Speed-Watch (or, When Netflix Discovered its Blind Users)”
11:00 – 12:00: Dr. Mél Hogan & Dr. Susan Cahill: “Technologies of Denial”
3:00 – 4:00: Joshua Neves & Marc Steinberg: “In Convenience” + Special Issue + Wrap-up
All times listed are in EDT.
Abstracts available by clicking on the title of the presentation.
2021-2022 GEM Seminar Related Events & Annual Initiatives
Participants: Fumi Okiji (UC Berkeley), Michelle Yom (CUNY), Kehinde Alonge (Rutgers), Matthias Domingo Mushinski (Concordia)
Oct 15th, 2021 @ 5pm (Online)
Participants: Vincent Mousseau (MSW Candidate at UMontréal) Jamilah Dei-Sharpe (PhD Candidate (Sociology) at Concordia) Dr. Rachel Harris (Librarian at Concordia) Dr. Désirée Rochat (PhD (Education) at McGill) Nimalan Yoganathan (PhD Candidate (Communication Studies) at Concordia) moderated by Gregorio Pablo Rodríguez-Arbolay (PhD Candidate (Humanities) at Concordia).
Oct 29th, 2021 @ 2pm (Online)
Participants: Ala Younis (Artist).
Oct 20, 2021 @ 10am (Online)
Participants: Ala Younis (Artist).
Nov 26, 2021 @ 1pm (Online)
Participants: Hadi Gharabaghi (Artist).
Apr 8, 2022 @ 4pm (Online)