Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Materiality
Secondary Theme: Technology
This panel explores the politics, aesthetics, and material practices of homemade media in moments of unstable imaginings of the nation and social welfare. Comprising such objects as junkstore photographs, home studio software, and home-cooked foods, the “homemade” connotes a shifting bundle of meanings and qualities that manifest across visual, sonic, and bodily forms. The homemade works by implicating ideologies and affects of domestic belonging. When accompanied by social critique, homemade mediation creates new forms of value, differently positioned alongside mass media and commodities. In conversation with producers of homemade media and drawing on semiotic, new materialist, Marxist, and feminist analytics, we ask: How do these objects move in and out of the category of the commodity? How do they critique (or, alternatively, reinforce) the extractive processes and precarious labor economies of late capitalism? As a creative response to precarity and dispossesion, how do homemade media articulate resilient, aspirational practices of self-care at the margins of formal economies (Tsing 2015)? How do they express nostalgia for the eroding welfare state, or alternatively anticipate new forms of sociality? The scalar flexibility of “home” as a concept and social category (Arendt 1958; Levi-Strauss 1982) enables homemade media to entangle the diverse lifeworlds of producers, distributors, and consumers. While at risk of slipping into the nationalist and even neofascist “homeland,” homemade media have the potential to constellate the molecular, the familial, the national, and the transnational into new intimate public spheres (Berlant 2008) that challenge the primacy of extractive capitalism and exclusivist politics.
Arendt, Hannah. 1958. The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Berlant, Lauren. 2008. The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press.
Levi-Strauss, Claude. 1988. The Way of the Masks. Trans. Syria Modelski. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Tsing, Anna, Lowenhaupt. 2015. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton University Press. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.