… which is not to say that opacity is better …

Just published a short piece in The Conversation about transparency, spectatorship, and the detainee photos released by the DoD two weeks ago.


It’s a little uncomfortable to critique transparency, especially because I think the argument is so easily misread as a defense of secrecy or tacit endorsement of the conduct being pictured.  But part of the problem with the discourse of transparency is that it equates the act of exposure with the work of protest, so that arguments against exposure start to look like advocacy for what is being exposed.  From my perspective, the most urgent task is to find an alternate path toward accountability, one that detours widely around the question of what is happening ‘in our names.’  The difficulty of thinking about accountability in the absence of transparency reveals the extent to which the framework of transparency has itself become hegemonic.

taking animals out of context

ozcu9Sometimes, when I am at my very luckiest, my job is simply to think about interesting mediated phenomena.  Recently, I was  interviewed for a story on media fear-mongering about predatory animals:


For most of us that live in urbanized settings in developed nations, the media stands in as our primary (sole?) source of contact with predatory animals, filtering out all but the most remarkable-seeming animal behavior.  My hunch is that in much the same way that newsmedia in particular focus on certain forms of violence among humans, so too does it apportion attention to apparently ‘violent’ forms of animal behavior.  On the other hand, those stories where animals appear simply as objects of sympathy (e.g. Cecil the Lion) don’t help much either, because they also tend to obscure the complexities of all human-animal relationships.  Either kind of story invites audiences to react viscerally and reaffirming the notion that animals are objects for our use and gratification.