Brian Larkin – Techniques of Inattention: Religion and the Mediality of Loudspeakers in Nigeria

By in Lectures on March 9, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm to 7:45 pm

Brian Larkin, Barnard College, Columbia University

Abstract: This paper examines the use of loudspeakers in Nigeria, particularly their implication in religious violence, to examine the technologizing of everyday life in Nigeria.  It draws on loudspeakers to show how the operation of technology forms a medial base that organizes urban experience. But I argue that technology operates through a reciprocal set of exchanges with other domains from religious practice, to urban violence, to political rule. Loudspeakers produce cultural techniques of attentiveness.  For media theorists these techniques are the aftereffect of the dispositif of technologies.  For scholars of religion, by contrast, attention is a religious act, a form of self-cultivation enjoined by traditions of religious discipline.  I seek to explore this reciprocal interaction to open up questions about technology, religion and urbanism.


Video: The Talk

Bio: Brian Larkin is the author of Signal and Noise: Infrastructure, Media and Urban Culture in Nigeria, (Duke, 2008) and the co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (California, 2000). He writes on issues of media, infrastructure, urbanism and religion in Nigeria and is currently completing the manuscript, Secular Machines: Media and the Materiality of Islamic Revival. Larkin teaches anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University.


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