Politics & the Senses


From #blacklivesmatter to the Dreamers and Standing Rock, to the rise of Trumpism and the re-emergence of white supremacy movements – our current political moment is being shaped by diverse affective, embodied, and performative forms of protest, intervention, community-building, and identity-making. Politics and the Senses seeks to make sense of this virulent and vitalizing moment by exploring the relationship between the sensorial, the embodied, and the political. Our speakers draw from a range of methods and analytic approaches, including performance, visual, media, and sound studies, and they will investigate how the material bodies shape and are shaped by different aesthetic, cultural, political milieus. 

Curated by:

Kaitlin M. Murphy, Department of Spanish and Portuguese and John Melillo, Department of English

Douglas Kearney
That Briar Sureshot: Applied Mess Poetics
10/18/2017 - 3:00pm-4:00pm
ENR2, S210 (Second Floor, Southwest)
The briar is a mess made home, a tangle of signal and noise. An exploration of that unsightly/uncitely site, Kearney's multimedia lecture/performance builds and acts on writings from Mess and Mess and, a book Fred Moten calls an "antimassapiece" and Tisa Bryant describes as "necessarily graphic, totally vulnerable, and admirably outrageous."... Read More
Diana Taylor
Seeking Life on the Roads of Death: The Madres Movement in Central America
11/01/2017 - 5:30pm-6:30pm
Center for Creative Photography
The Madres of disappeared Central American migrants wear the photos of their missing sons and daughters and chant: “¡vivos se fueron, vivos los queremos!” The grieving women, the photos, and the chants are a cluster of traumatic memes that convey the ongoing nature of disappearance as political practice. Like the Madres of Plaza de Mayo almost... Read More
Audra Simpson
Savage States: Settler Governance in an Age of Sorrow
1/31/2018 - 3:30 pm
ENR2 - 210
In what world do we imagine the past to be settled in light of its refusal to perish and allow things to start over anew? What are the conditions that make for this imagining, this fantasy or rather, demand of a new start point? In this piece I consider the world of settler colonialism which demands this newness, and a world in which Native people... Read More
Ronak Kapadia
Ronak Kapadia, "Visionary Aesthetics: Flight, Fantasy, and Freedom on the Frontiers of U.S. Empire”
2/22/2018 - 6 PM
Center for Creative Photography
This talk, presented in conjunction with the UA Institute for LGBT Studies Miranda Joseph Lecture, advances queer, feminist, anti-colonial, and indigenous modes of thinking about the futures of Palestine at the borderlands of US empire. Kapadia argues that a queer feminist analysis of visionary aesthetics in the work of London-based Palestinian... Read More
Jairo Moreno
Aurality and the Forms of Life: Empirical Metaphysics and Aesthetic Politics among Afro-Colombian Midwives
03/28/2018 - 3:30 pm
ENR2 Room 210
In the Colombian Pacific region, Afro–Colombian midwives aurally mediate notions of divine origin and biological grounds for human life during ante–natal care. As embodiments of divinities, fetuses have both the capacity to hear (in a biological sense) and to listen in to the already born, and in the event of death, recently–deceased infants too... Read More
Bonnie Jones & Suzanne Thorpe (Techne)
Feminism and Noise
ENR2 Room S215
Characteristically, noise is considered to be an interruption, intervention, agitation, or factor that is unknown. Technically speaking, in the world of sound, noise is a sound without a particular pitch, or an interruption of a signal’s flow. With these thoughts in mind, how can noise be characterized through a feminist lens? And how can noise... Read More


the Office for Diversity and Institutional Excellence, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Department of English, and the Institute for LBGT Studies