Brian Larkin "Techniques of Inattention: Religion and the Mediality of Loudspeakers in Nigeria" | AHCS Speaker Series
Associate Professor, Barnard College, Columbia University
"Techniques of Inattention: Religion and the Mediality of Loudspeakers in Nigeria"
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.
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 Reviva"l.
Larkin teaches anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University.