In 2018, I completed a major editorial project with Media Theory, an international peer-reviewed journal. “Geospatial memory,” a special issue with 18 contributors, develops existing polyvocal articulations surrounding the geoweb. It addresses the geoweb’s influence in shaping our navigational and sensory reality, and therefore its impact on aesthetic, cultural, historical, archival and media-archaeological approaches more generally. Drawing from film studies, archival studies, psychogeography, media archaeology, as well as from textual and visual approaches to “smart cities” and algorithmic urbanism, the issue’s contributors find various ways to enrich our geolocated conditions and experiences with collective memory practices.
I have published the following single-authored works:
1.In “Geolocating Popular Memory: Recorded Images of Hashima Island after Skyfall” (Popular Communication: The International Journal of Media and Culture, 2018), I significantly enhance one of the examples briefly mentioned in an earlier work (“Geospatial Detritus”) by grappling with efforts to document Japan’s Hashima Island following its appearance in the popular film Skyfall (2012). In this expanded version, I describe how the film’s commercial success led to subsequent efforts by Google to produce images of the island’s built environment using digital navigation technologies, and describe how this effort led the Japanese government to include Hashima Island in a bid to gain UNESCO heritage status for sites of industrialization during the Meiji period. I further analyze how the circulation of images depicting Hashima Island in popular culture has affected continuing efforts to hold Japan accountable for its past injustices. By focusing on the period“after” Skyfall, I connect this geopolitical maneuvering directly to the Google Street View initiative, exploring the latter’s impact on navigation, spatial presence, and heritage.
2. In “Hoskins, A. (Ed.), Digital Memory Studies: Media Pasts in Transition“(New Media & Society, 2018), I review Andrew Hoskins’ volume, breaking new ground with the first explicit articulation of digital memory studies.
3. In “Graham, S. Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers” (PUBLIC, 2018), I review Stephen Graham’s ambitious book on the merits of verticality in geographical and geospatial analysis.
4. In “Geospatial Detritus: Mapping Urban Abandonment” (Routledge, 2016), I examine how digital mapping visualization has helped to transform abandoned cities into motors of sensory experience, sociality and public initiative. By drawing from the work of urban planners, such as Fran Tonkiss’ (2013) concept of “austerity urbanism,” I position demands to mobilize an international tourism industry in relation to equally provocative initiatives to develop and refurbish abandoned cities, highlighting the important role that digital media plays in this refurbishment.
5. In “The Geospatial Rhetoric of Asylum: Mapping Migration in Fortress Europe” (Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA, 2016), I isolate a cluster of connections that exist between geospatial imaging technology and the discourse on users, interfaces and publics, focusing on a German neo-fascist group’s publication of a Google Map containing geolocative information of the country’s asylum houses. I examine how the group’s information gathering tactics reflect long contested relationships between maps, power and the construction of identity, and I question the viability of addressing anti-migrant sentiment by appealing to spatial demands that are historically aligned with social justice initiatives. I further address methodological, historical and theoretical issues. These include: the epistemic assumptions behind rejecting politically motivated maps as propaganda, the logistical or strategic novelties associated with crowdsourcing information, and the narrative power of maps.
6. In “Public Space, Media Space” (Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture, 2016), I review an edited volume by Chris Berry and Rachel Moore. LINK
7. In “Teaching Media Infrastructure through Popular Culture” (Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture, 2017), I describe my pedagogical approach for introducing undergraduates to questions of media infrastructure, and introduce a special mini-volume featuring peer-reviewed versions of my student’s term papers. LINK
The following works are in stages of completion:
1–Article: “Gerrymandering Place: The Geography of Algorithmic Power in America”
Since 1812, gerrymandering has become a bitterly contested illicit practice in the fight for power in America. Increasingly, both major parties use algorithmic tools to engineer voter results by altering the shape of electoral districts. While the most egregious cases are meted out in the courts, efforts have also been made to find algorithmic solutions to gerrymandering (Bycoffe et. al, 2018; Olson, 2010). My paper sits adjacent to these approaches by framing computer-assisted gerrymandering as an example of geographical catachresis. While the political and legal aspects are important to explore, my focus is rather on the onto-epistemological ramifications involved in efforts to counter gerrymandering with the very same digital tools that allow it to flourish. Acknowledging that gerrymandering mirrors the “cartographic anxiety” (Gregory, 1994) of users who are faced with the truth effects of representational maps, I argue that gerrymandering is equally deployed to obtain material rewards from exercising “algorithmic control” (Galloway, 2006; Striphas, 2015) in a political environment unprepared to grapple with digital affordances. By addressing these points in relation to the broader field of spatial media (Kitchin et. al, 2017; Crampton, 2010; Pickles, 2005), my presentation explores how algorithmic gerrymandering has become both an obscene and dominant form of political storytelling, and thus a conduit for political identity as expressed through the most elemental unit of cartography, namely drawing. Contrary to ignoring the priority of place among voters, I argue that gerrymandering strongly encourages voters to form attachments to place through the retrograde visual culture of national elections.
3–Manuscript: “Spatial Extremes: Mapping Power and Politics in the Age of Digital Mobility”
Once completed, this manuscript will offer a theoretical and historical framework in which to fully grapple with the geopolitics of digital and spatial media. More narrowly, however, my interest lies in the way digital cartography and digital media in general has been galvanized to commit violent crimes and other illegal actions, and the specific narrative formats that encourage such actions. In this framework, I want to address some of the psycho-social assumptions that extremists have toward specific digital tools, as well as the obscene geographical imaginaries that proliferate among extremist groups. With chapters dedicated to the way crowdsourcing maps have been used to target vulnerable populations, to questions surrounding algorithmic gerrymandering, location hunting for sites of mass murder or geospatial terrorism, and the political engineering of data visualization, I conceive this work in the hope of offering insights into a geographically specific and yet ubiquitous form of media that continues to determine important aspects of public culture, including the dramatic ways such media enhance, obfuscate and trouble collective actions and the pursuit of social justice.
2– Library in Ruins: Digital Collections and the Idea of the University (2019) Forthcoming in Re-viewing Comparative Literature in Canada, Ingram, S., and Sywenky, I. (Eds.). Edmonton: University of Alberta Press.
This article documents the trend of digitizing large library collections held at universities. It considers the philosophical and speculative questions that digitization raises, alongside some of the practical and pedagogical implications.