INFRASTRUCTURES OF MEMORY: INFORMATION, ARCHIVE, AND MEDIA STUDIES
EDITED BY KEVIN GIBBS AND ALI GUNNELLS
Our realities are inseparable from digital technology. Even producing a hard copy of this review required note taking and writing via word processors, while writers, editors, and publishers communicated via email and text message. The books in this section ask us to consider the role that various technologies play in our daily lives.
Working at the intersection of cultural and digital studies, the first two reviews in this section explore the role of media in shaping cultural understanding. In her review of Remediating Region, Ali Gunnells traces how media forms are historically operationalized to Other the South both geographically and culturally. Alexander Holt’s review of Media and the Affective Life of Slavery highlights the author’s effort to unpack the ways that historical narratives of slavery are reinforced by media such as films, websites, and more.
Moving from the general to the particular, the following three reviews take a look at specific deployments of media and technology. In her review of Feminista Frequencies, Ana A. Rico foregrounds the presence of Chicana/os in radio broadcasting history through Radio Cadena’s role in Mexican American community building in the Yakima Valley. Apurva Gunturu’s review of Unsettled Borders identifies a gap in border discourses by highlighting Indigenous peoples’ relationship to surveillance at the Arizona-Mexico border. To conclude these case studies, Sam Turner’s review of Poetic Operations identifies the political potential of digital art produced by trans and gender-non-conforming people.
The next three reviews put technology front and center. In his review of Knowledge Justice, Kevin Gibbs describes how the collection uses Critical Race Theory to cut through the tangled relationship between technology and the humanities at the heart of Library and Information Studies (LIS), offering possible solutions to current issues in LIS. Kimberlyn Harrison’s review of Your Computer is on Fire highlights how seemingly inoffensive technological developments—including cloud computing and the ‘corporate family’ model—maintain and transform pre-digital material forms of repression even as they render it invisible. Alicen Davis’s review of Impagination – Layout and Materiality of Writing and Publication expands upon that turn to the material, diagramming the history of the book as a physical object as it ultimately invites readers to question how these forms leave traces in the digital realm.
The last two reviews continue the turn from the digital to the physical. Da Ye Kim’s review of Myriad Intimacies explores how a multimedia approach can help convey an interlinked, tantric understanding of reality. Finally, in her review of Digital Lethargy, Yuge Ma sees technology and affect as not intersecting, but merged, with lethargy a necessary response to the demands of an increasingly digital world.
One particular challenge of the twenty-first century is imagining alternatives to the status quo. Juxtaposed here, several themes emerge from these reviews: the need for interdisciplinary approaches to complex topics, the importance of grounding broad arguments in specific locales, and the intertwined benefits and hazards of digital technology. Through their work, hopefully we can start to imagine a world that is not just different, but better.