The Right to Look is more our duty than a “right”


Book Cover: The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality by Nicholas Mirzoeff

“RSVP for the Book Launch for Nicholas Mirzoeff’s
The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm at 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor, New York, NY

Space is limited and reservations are required. To RSVP, please visit: http://bitly.com/nicholasmirzoeff.

Register to attend a reception celebrating the publication of The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Duke University Press, 2011), by Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU.
In The Right to LookNicholas Mirzoeff develops a comparative de-colonial framework for visual culture studies, the field that he helped to create and shape. Casting modernity as an ongoing contest between visuality and countervisuality, or “the right to look,” he explains how visuality sutures authority to power and renders the association natural. Encompassing the Caribbean plantation and the Haitian revolution, anticolonialism in the South Pacific, antifascism in Italy and Algeria, and the contemporary global counterinsurgency, The Right to Look is a work of astonishing geographic, temporal, and conceptual reach.”This event is free and open to the public.

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I studied with Nick during a semester “abroad” at NYU, yes, venturing beyond the 14th street divide counts as abroad for many New York City graduate students! (joke). That spring, I took a class in visual culture called “Modernity and Climate Change” in the Media Culture and Communication Studies Department. The class was simply amazing, with the range of discipline and perspectives represented. Our group conversations were candid, intense, exciting and enriching. Nicholas was a confident leader and didn’t overly direct the conversation or derail fruitful trains of thought.

I invited him to speak at the Ninth Annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium where he delivered a talk “Islands of Justice: Imagining Climate Change. He made a big splash with they way he integrated images, and audience assumptions and cultural readings of climate change images and information, specifically that of islanders around the world whose lives are changing at the prospect of climactic shifts and sea-level changes.

He was a truly welcome addition to our roster, a major coup, I might add, and  he represented the start of a rich relationship between NES and NYU. I found him to be an engaging speaker, brilliant thinker, witty, real and personable!

I definitely recommend that people who grapple with visual studies and / or use digital media (as a theoretical foundation, for data collection, analysis or presentation) should attend. If you tell him I sent you, it’ll elicit a smile!

Let me know if you decide to go, I’d love to hear about it!

 Shawndel

Make your mark on the Earthquake


Click here to Make your mark and write a note and add pics to the map above.

Lets record this moment and connect with others who experienced something similar. Feel free to note your emergency plan in your marker as well. 

Where were you when the earthquake shook the east coast?

I was at work when the floor shook and the building swayed.  A co-worker asked “Do you feel that?” “what the shaking? It feels like we’re having an earthquake.” I replied.  Then I started searching the news outlets: Reuters, AP, NYT, I googled “New York Earthquake” during the tremors. No dice. No news…they were probably waiting for editor’s approval 🙂

However, a little twitter fu revealed many New Yorkers tweeting for corroboration of the the sickening sway. None of us seemed to really believe it. We evacuated to the basement and outside the building, then eventually informed that it was safe to return. Events seemed to unfold in normal time, however my emotions had spiked;  so and I decided that the best way to calm myself was to think of an emergency travel plan.  I did not have a mind to twitpic the evacuation or to capture sound, but I did keep my wits about me and remained calm throughout.

What would you do if the subway tunnels collapsed and buses were unavailable?

Do you live in an outer borough? Do you and your loved ones have a plan in case of major evacuation? A meet-up site in the event that you become separated? Ladies, do you have extra nibbles  in your heavy purse, in case of emergency hunger and thirst? Fellas, do you have a purse? 

Today reminded me of the necessity of a plan. 

No matter how far-fetched, unnerving or unnecessary the rational mind might wish it, our social and economical worlds are changing. It follows logic that the physical world could also shift under our feet.  As the saying goes, prior planning prevents poor performance, so “thank you” @Sal_Castaneda for the reminder about emergency preparedness. Thank you to my other twitter friends and contacts who posted helpful links, the main on being the government preparedness site Ready.gov.

Stay grounded.

Back to the Future of DUMBO & the Manhattan Bridge


Time warp: pciture of DUMBO street with Bridge framing 1974 and in 2009

I had no idea this block was a photo op!

In my internet wanderings I chanced upon this Business Week picture taken in DUMBO with the Manhattan Bridge in the background. Total déjà vu ensued not because of the bridge (hey, “I’m a New Yorkah”! I’ve seen it like a bajillion times)  but because of the framing. A couple of years ago my friend and I celebrated New York’s bike month by riding in the Bike New York activities though Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the end of a long day in the saddle, we went to DUMBO park and stopped to take photos.

The cobblestone streets are still a mess, the warehouses are the same (though maybe they’ve been bleached at some point), and the bridge is still blue. The only difference is the number and models of the cars parked. Neat time warp moment!

Read the full article at Business Week, where they have more photos!

Foxes, be Fleet of Foot in the Ragged Wood…


The mountains are calling me home…yet sending strength to me even whilst I spend my days on the most crowded Island in the world.  Flowing with the Zen of my city life…

I am breathing in the exhalations of trees,

first air at first light

brown, Spongy and damp leaf covered ground

hidden Humming cicadas

busy birds flitting branches finding feathered friends

me below. still. quiet. listening. dwarfed by trees, dwarfed by skyscrapers.

“Womanifesta” for the Future of Environmental Psychology and Geography


My thanks to Adeola Enigbokan for the color highlighting idea, which I have imitated in this post. As they say, “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. Therein lay the entirety of what is not my own original inspiration within this post.  This was written originally for a workshop in which we are re-envisioning the fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography, or Psychogeography..hold the jokes, please.  I’ve edited this to be a standalone post for this blog, as it is removed from its original context, a larger, ongoing conversation with my colleagues. Onward!      

My overarching research interests involve interrogating “American” popular culture for perpetuation and sometimes creation of otherwise hidden social and systemic norms. From gender roles and associated /expected life-choice trajectories to cultural ideas, ideals, images and understandings and methods of producing nature and our relation to / with  it.  My current research uses visual analysis techniques to discern the underlying myths of nature portrayed in post–WWII car ads in National Geographic Magazine. Here is a link to a more detailed project description.     

 The Visual and The Creative 

My research , and conversations and collaborations with fellow researchers aims to expand our current bevy of methods by which we engage with the visual (analysis and methodology), and to encourage acceptance of the creative. To add the visual, is to create, assemble or find  an information base for the fields of Environmental Psychology and [Cultural] Geography (Imagined Geographies or Visual Geography) to accomplish two things:           

  1. Supports and encourages the exploration and use of visual analysis techniques to interrogate images and other material cultural artifacts for their contextual and storied content, rather than solely categorizing and counting their elements a la content analysis or adapted quantitative survey measures
  2. Allows for the dynamic presentation and sharing of said information so as to be maximally interesting, sensorially engaging and technologically relevant beyond the academy, or at least beyond one specific discipline.

3…2…1…CARE!!! OR Emoting can increase readability and interest

My second goal for the field is to advocate for storytelling techniques and/or interpretive methods that allow exploration of the sensorial aspects of our physical, cultural and social environments. This is to say that students and PhD’s alike need some exposure to publications of interest wherein language is used expressively, with all attendant emotion and individual personality. This can only serve to enrich the texture of the analysis, discussion and presentation. It is time for us to release the imposed rational objectivity of the physical sciences which often stifles the potential for brilliant insights and inspired research inquiries in our interdisciplinary and subjective fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography.            

Technology is our friend

Lastly, I sense an opportunity for Environmental Psychology and Geography to seize the opportunity to step ahead of the curve and make our fields relevant and popularly appealing again by encouraging the use of current technology in data collection, analysis, presentation and distribution. There is but a small window of time in which we can be “the first” and still have the luxury of our lead time to become “the best” at producing researchers whose methods and mediums reflect the current array of possible information flows, storage, presentation and technological advancements. The [written] word is no longer enough in a world where people read few books and “learn” from TV and the Internet.           

Signed, Shawndel N. Fraser
Static [written] Dissertations behind Dynamic PhD Student

Signed, Shawndel