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"Media Ruins: Cambodian Postwar Media Reconstruction & The Geopolitics of Technology"

"Media Ruins: Cambodian Postwar Media Reconstruction & The Geopolitics of Technology"


This talk describes the ways that Cambodian new media creators commemorate lost artists and an imagined better way of life through finding, repairing, and disseminating historical film, photography and cinema artifacts from before the Khmer Rouge period, often using digital tools. Reconstructing such media artifacts through a process of infrastructural restitution is a mode of healing from decades of national conflict and a form of subtle political action in an increasingly authoritarian Phnom Penh. Building on theory at the intersection of infrastructure studies (Star and Ruhleder, 1996; Larkin, 2013) and media’s relationship to memory (Gordon, 2008; Larkin, 2008; Richards, 1994), the concept of infrastructural restitution allows us to (re)integrate the importance of memory, the affective, and the spiritual into scholarship of infrastructure. This case gives new insight into the tension in transnational technology use between creative appropriation and the problematic political economy of mainstream platforms. The empirical sections of this talk are based on historical and ethnographic research in Phnom Penh from 2014-2020, including 20 months of full-time research from June 2017-January 2019.

Maggie Jack is an Industry Assistant Professor at NYU Tandon in the Department of Technology, Culture and Society, where she researches technology and work in a global context. She primarily uses qualitative methods including ethnography, interviews, design research, participant observation, and archival review. Her scholarly work is in conversation with the fields of Science and Technology Studies (STS), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), and design. She also contributes to popular conversations about the changing nature of work and the ethical dimensions of emerging technologies. In her teaching, she encourages design and engineering students to use humanistic methods and perspectives to critically analyze and imagine futures for the impacts of technology on society. She holds a PhD in Information Science from Cornell University, an MPhil in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge, and a BA in History and Science from Harvard College. In previous lives, she worked in the international development sector and as a financial analyst in the technology-media-telecom sector in Silicon Valley.

Moderator: Cindy Nguyen (UCLA)

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Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies, School of Education and Information Studies

18 Apr 24
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

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