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Panel: The Race Work of War Machines

Event Type
Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities
Third Floor Lecture Hall, Levis Faculty Center (919 West Illinois Street, Urbana)
Nov 7, 2018   7:30 pm  
Free and open to the public.

As we try to think about the full spectrum of “Race Work” at IPRH this year, the labor that war machines of all kinds requires our critical attention. From early drone experiments in the Pacific during World War II to the apparatus of FOIA, this panel tracks the racial and imperial logics of different forms of state surveillance during the so-called American century and its aftermath. Given that the race work of war machines has been a bi-partisan effort with a long history, thinking through its ramifications immediately after the midterm elections reminds us that race not only shapes domestic and international politics but is one modality through which they are intimately and often fatally linked.

Featuring Katherine Fehr Chandler (Culture and Politics, Georgetown University) and Anjali Nath (American Studies, University of California, Davis)

Respondents: Kevin Hamilton (Fine + Applied Arts) and Ned O'Gorman (Communication). Moderator: Brian Jordan Jefferson (Geography & GIS)

November 7 Panel

Katherine Chandler's research examines the intersection of technology, media and politics through a range of scales and forms. Her monograph, Unmanning: How Humans, Machines and Media Perform Drone Warfare, studies experimental unmanned aircraft from 1936-1992. It analyzes how conditions for contemporary drone warfare are made from decades of failed experiments, including World War II television-guided missiles and pilotless spy planes flown over Vietnam. She is an assistant professor in the Culture and Politics Program at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

Anjali Nath is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Nath’s research focuses on wartime visual cultures. Her writing has appeared in Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, American Quarterly, Visual Anthropology and other academic journals.

Kevin Hamilton is Dean of the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he has served in a variety of capacities since arriving as an Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design in 2002. As an artist and researcher, Kevin works in a variety of disciplinary settings, with publications on interdisciplinary research methodologies and bias in algorithmic systems, and commissioned or exhibited artworks on the histories of cybernetics, race, and landscape. The bulk of his research efforts are with Ned O'Gorman, with whom he counts a number of co-authored publications and the upcoming book Lookout America! The Secret Hollywood Film Studio at the Heart of the Cold War (Dartmouth College Press, 2018). His work as an artist and scholar has earned support from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Illinois Arts Council.

Ned O’Gorman is Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. A rhetorical and media scholar, he works in and across several different areas: the Cold War, history of rhetoric, political thought/theory, and media and technology studies. O’Gorman’s work is broadly concerned with intersections among public discourse, political thought, and technology, especially in the Cold War. His most recent book The Iconoclastic Imagination: Image, Catastrophe, and Economy in America since the Kennedy Assassination (University of Chicago Press) was the winner of the 2016 Bruce E. Gronbeck Political Communication Research Award, sponsored by the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research. His earlier book, Spirits of the Cold War: Contesting Worldviews in the Classical Age of American Security Strategy, came out in 2012, and was reviewed widely, including in The New Republic. O’Gorman has published numerous journal essays on topics related to rhetorical theory, aesthetics, religion, political theory, and political history in the Cold War, seventeenth-century England, and ancient Greece. He has also been a writer at The Infernal Machine, the Huffington Post, and The Hedgehog Review. O’Gorman is also publishing, with Kevin Hamilton, a book due out in December 2018: Lookout America! The Secret Hollywood Film Studio at the Heart of the Cold War published with over 600 images by Dartmouth College Press. The book, the culmination of over ten years of research, is about the remarkable but largely forgotten history of Lookout Mountain Laboratory, a U.S. Air Force film studio responsible for many of the most iconic images of the Cold War, from mushroom clouds to space monkeys.

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