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AHCS Speaker Series 2020-21

The lecture series would like to thank the Dean of Arts Development Fund at McGill and a generous anonymous donor for contributing to the series.

Unless otherwise noted, the events will take place on Zoom.

To subscribe to the AHCS Events mailing list, please contact: caitlin.loney [at]

Winter 2021

February 18

Exploring the social implications of digital media algorithms for Canada’s LGBTQ+ communities
David Myles
Abstract: Digital media algorithms now oversee nearly all of our online activities. They select and order the results of online searches, they filter, recommend, or censor certain contents, they monitor user activities to predict their preferences, and they score, evaluate, and moderate user content (or even users themselves). Recent studies have shown how algorithms often reproduce the biases of the people who develop, implement, or use them in ways that disproportionally affect women and people of color. This presentation extends these reflections to explore the implications that algorithms raise for Canada’s LGBTQ+ communities, especially in terms of social justice and equality. By doing so, it seeks to further demonstrate how digital media technologies are never neutral but encoded with values that enact important power dynamics disproportionally affecting marginalized populations.

Bio: David Myles is an Affiliate Professor in Sexology at the University of Quebec in Montreal and a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, McGill University. His interests include the sociopolitical implications of digital media technologies, death and mourning, gender and sexual diversity, as well as Internet research ethics and methods. His latest research focuses on automation and datafication processes and their consequences for the LGBTQ+ communities.
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Addressing sexual violence at Canadian universities amidst rising anti-feminist and alt-right backlash
Emily Colpitts
Abstract: In this presentation, I will discuss the dynamic relationship between rising anti-feminist and alt-right backlash and efforts to address sexual violence and advance social justice on campus. I argue that backlash is fuelled by the perceived success of this activism and how it, in turn, shapes what can be said and done about violence. I situate this relationship within the broader struggle among competing social movements over the power to define what constitutes violence, justice, and free speech and explore how the university has become an important site of this struggle.

Bio: Emily M. Colpitts is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow (2020-2022) in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies. Prior to joining McGill, Emily held a York Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Centre for Feminist Research at York University, where she also completed her PhD in Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies.
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Petroturfing: Refining Canadian Oil in the Age of Social Media
Jordan Kinder
Abstract: This talk introduces Jordan's current book project, Petroturfing: Refining Canadian Oil in the Age of Social Media. Petroturfing is an investigation into how the Canadian pro-oil movement seeks to undermine resistance to the fossil fuel industry by leveraging perceptions of social media as a participatory and democratic space to frame Canadian oil as an economically, socially, and ecologically progressive force. Performing a qualitative, critical analysis of media produced by the groups and organizations central to the movement's formation, Petroturfing draws upon a range of perspectives from disciplines including political economy, political ecology, media studies, feminist theory, critical Indigenous studies, and science and technology studies, to make distinct contributions to critical studies of social media on the one hand and the energy and environmental humanities on the other. The talk begins by charting the emergence of the pro-oil movement through social media, and it concludes by detailing the project's major contributions with a focus on the critical vocabulary the project generates to confront the encounter between platform and oil capitalism that the movement signals.

Bio: Jordan Kinder is a media studies and environmental humanities scholar from what is now called northern British Columbia. He is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, and is currently a SSHRC-FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow. His PhD was completed in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta in 2019, and his most recent work can be found in South Atlantic Quarterly and the Journal of Environmental Media.

March 18

Wild Tides: Media Infrastructure and Built Space in Post-Financial Crisis Ireland.
Patrick Brodie

Abstract: Wild Tides: Media Infrastructure and Financial Crisis in Ireland articulates the ways in which the circulatory logics of contemporary capitalism are mapped within the Republic of Ireland through the spatial lens of media industries and their infrastructures. Building upon critical geography, media, and cultural studies research on infrastructure, financialization, and logistics, Wild Tides unpacks the shifting cultural and economic policy logics in Ireland since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The effects of this crisis in the country revealed the extent to which Ireland’s political, economic, cultural, and environmental futures were tethered to the turbulence of global financial markets and trade through an over-dependence on foreign investment as a resource for economic development. In the aftermath of the crisis, compelled towards austerity and widespread privatization by the bailout conditions of international monetary agencies, this dependence intensified across many sectors of the Irish economy, especially the media and technology industries. The book unravels the dense cultural and political entanglements of this post-crisis environment across four chapters, taking the reader through Ireland’s unique history of economic liberalization and post-developmentalism and their resonance within contemporary media economies; the role of the media and “creative industries” in the country’s spatial planning as a tool of economic recovery; the expanded geographies of transnational media policy and its labor implications; and the role of the technology industries and their data infrastructures in Ireland’s spatial and environmental futures. Although these political and economic formations in Ireland appear increasingly “natural,” the book argues that more “wild” frictions that arise at their point of implementation open apertures towards different ways of thinking about futures beyond the turbulence of global capital.

Bio: Patrick Brodie is an FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University. He completed his PhD at Concordia University. His current research project analyzes the cultural, environmental, and postcolonial geopolitics of data and energy infrastructures across the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. His work has appeared in Media, Culture and Society, Culture Machine, Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, among other venues.

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“How Differences in Medium Contributed to an Understanding of the Information”: Tattooing, Printmaking, and Conceptual Art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1970-73
Jamie Jelinski

Abstract: This paper investigates how Halifax-based tattooist Robert “Bob” MacLean became involved with several artistic pursuits at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design during the early 1970s. Situating MacLean’s collaborative efforts with within broader changes the school concurrently experienced, I analyze an exhibition of his drawings, a print he produced at the institution’s Lithography Workshop, and a conceptual artwork spearheaded by famed contemporary artist Vito Acconci. In doing so, I argue that MacLean bridged longstanding gaps between tattooing and visual art, thus reframing how his work, as a form of commercial visual culture, was produced, consumed, and understood.

Bio: Jamie Jelinski is a Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture Postdoctoral Fellow, having completed his PhD in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University during 2019. His writing has been published in Urban History Review, Journal of Canadian Studies, Études Inuit Studies, and Visual Anthropology. He is currently finalizing a book on the history of commercial tattooing in Canada and beginning another that investigates the custodianship of “hidden images” by Canadian institutions.

March 29

Media Studies: The Challenge of the Global South
Ravi Sundaram
Centre for the Study of Developing Societies - Delhi

The vast majority of media users in the world today are located outside the West, in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Most users in the Global South have a cellular phone as their main or first media device. We are now confronted by media-enabled populations previously seen as supplements to a larger story playing out in the metropolitan world. What can this globally reconfigured media landscape tell us about thinking critically about the contemporary? This lecture will focus on the theme of sensory infrastructure, its links to politics, law and memory.

Ravi Sundaram is a faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies at New Delhi. His work examines how media infrastructure conditions life in the city, and how ‘pirate modernity’ is endemic to the largely informal media networks and usage common in the postcolonial urban spaces of the Global South. His work draws on critical theory, media anthropology, and urbanism. His most recent book was Pirate Modernity: Media Urbanism in Delhi  (2010). 

This event is organized by Farah Atoui and Liza Tom as part of the History of Communication course (COMS 200) and is supported by the AHCS Speaker Series.

April 6

Simulating Nature and Dissimulating Mechanics in Early Modern Florentine Scenography
Vikki Addona

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Cohabiting the urban night in Montreal
Jhessica Reia


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