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Collective Listening: Protest, Assemblies, and Digital Platforms

Thursday Lecture Series, Belongings

dateMarch 31, 2022 timeThursday, 12:15pm–1:30pm EDT locationVirtual Event location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia UniversityThis event will take place in person at the Heyman Center and virtually over Zoom.
  • This event will take place in person at the Heyman Center and virtually over Zoom. We ask that EVERYONE REGISTER VIA ZOOM, even those who plan to attend in person. Please read event description for further details.

  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities
email address [email protected]
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Two people, one wearing large dark sunglasses, touching hands

The talk explores techniques and technologies for group listening and discourse -- from deliberative assemblies to zoom meetings -- and their role in forming collective versus individualistic subjectivities. Drawing on research with and on directly democratic social movements, indigenous alter-globalization groups, and anti-racist protest movements against police violence, this talk will analyze the techniques of "active listening" and strategic silence cultivated by these groups. It will also discuss how these strategies have been implemented in order to understand and empathize with "strangers," to create group cohesion, and to other the police. Contrasting these movements with the sudden need to move all forms of organizing online during the Covid confinements, the talk then considers the affordances and, mostly, the limits of digital platforms for such listening practices.

Jessica Feldman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications, Media, and Culture at the American University of Paris and Director of the university's Civic Media Lab. Her research is concerned with the intersections of social justice struggles, emerging communication technologies, and practices of listening. Her current book project, Radical Protocols: Digital Design for Social Solidarity, is a study of the ways in which democratic values are (or are not) inscribed in the design of emerging networked communication technologies. The book is the result of ethnographic fieldwork with democratic social movements and collectives, beginning with the “movements of the squares” in 2011 and concluding in the current moment. Through a study of the movements’ communications practices and the alternative digital tools that they designed to serve their political values, Feldman shows recurring values-in-design of these alternative tools which prioritize the distribution of power, inclusion of strangers, and resilience (over speed or data collection.) She is also a sound and new media artist whose work has been shown and performed internationally.

This event also will be recorded. By being electronically present, you consent to the SOF/Heyman using such video for promotional purposes.

Please email [email protected] to request disability accommodations. Advance notice is necessary to arrange for some accessibility needs.