Upcoming conference: Aesthetic Relations conference at the University of Copenhagen

January 20-22, 2021. I will present a paper entitled “Colonial (dis-)appearances through reconstructed sites and sound: Frederiksgave Plantation in Ghana vs. the Danish West-Indian warehouse in Copenhagen” about sound as an aesthetic dimension in the production of colonial history at the conference Aesthetic Relations. Read more about the conference in the call for papers.

Upcoming conference: Colonial/Racial Histories, National Narratives and Transnational Migration

January 11-14, 2021. I will be presenting a paper “History as Composition: Re-sounding Frederiksgave” at the workshop “Heritage, Narratives and Materiality” January 12 at the Colonial/Racial Histories, National Narratives and Transnational Migration conference in Helsinki.


Notes after reading: Water & data

In the paper “Want of Water, Want of Data: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database and Oceanic Computing” (2018) Jeffrey Moro investigates the representation of the slave ship Zong as it appears in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (slavevoyages.org), or TASTD. Moro argues that data has long structured our understanding of the Middle Passage, from slave ship log books through to the TASTD, and that while informatic forms, such as the database or spreadsheet, allow for structured access to information, they impoverish affective and experiential understandings of fundamentally unknowable events. Moro proposes to instead regard the ocean as a communications medium offering a distinctly different set of aesthetic and ethical values “duration over immediacy, indeterminacy over exactitude, leaky memory over dry storage”. 

A related thinking, also benefitting from regarding the ocean as a medium in the media theorist John Durham Peters’ sense is found in Eric Snodgrass’ analysis in his dissertation Executions: power and expression in networked and computational media of the Mediterranean Sea as a filter or infrastructure allowing cargo to pass and bodies of refugees to be detected.

These two studies exemplify how the ocean historically as well as today serves a cultural function to enforce a clear segregation between affluent Westerners and migrants from Africa.

Notes after reading: What can sound do, and what can we do with sound?

Recent years has seen a material and affective turn in the humanities. In the article I link to below, Sanne Krogh Groth and Kristine Samson make a case for the genre of the audio paper which they label as a “performative format working together with an affective and elaborate understanding of language. It is an experiment embracing intellectual arguments and creative work, papers and performances, written scholarship and sonic aesthetics.”