Parallel panels, session 3

Friday, May 14, 10:20 am (UTC+2)

Setup phase for presenters starts at 10:00 am.

3.1 – Narratives of Science; Narratives of Race

Paula von Gleich, University of Bremen:
Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the Genealogy of “black is black is black”

The debut novel Homegoing (2016) by Ghanaian American writer Yaa Gyasi follows six generations of Ghanaian and African American descendants of two half-sisters born to an Asante women named Maame in the territory of today’s Ghana in the eighteenth century. While one of the sisters and her descendants remain in West Africa, the other is captured, shipped to North America, and enslaved. The two family branches reunite when the African American descendant Marcus and the Ghanaian descendant and second-generation US immigrant Marjorie meet in the late twentieth-century United States. Covering three centuries and two family branches across the Atlantic, the historical novel reflects genealogies of Blackness through the trope of the family and its perpetual quest for escape, refuge, homegoing, and homemaking in the face of enslavement, (post)colonialism, migration, imprisonment, and poverty on both sides of the Atlantic. Homegoing brings together discourses around slavery and recent migration across the Atlantic between Africa south of the Sahara and the United States in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries that until recently have been received “as two distinct stories” and together challenge “expected ways of narrating both America and Africa” (Goyal, Runaway Genres chap. 5). Due to this complex transnational and diasporic disposition, Homegoing negotiates past and present concepts of Blackness and the anti-blackness that both African Americans and Black migrants face without distinction in the United States and elsewhere (cf. Sexton, “People-of-Color Blindness” 53).

Drawing on recent Afro-pessimist and Black feminist critical interventions, this paper analyzes how Homegoing rethinks these concepts in the “afterlife of slavery” (Hartman, Lose Your Mother 6). As Marjorie is told: “Here, in this country [the US], it doesn’t matter where you came from first to the white people running things. You’re here now, and here black is black is black” (Gyasi 273).

 

Paula von Gleich is a researcher and lecturer of North American Literature at the department of Linguistics and Literary Studies, University of Bremen, Germany. She is executive director of the Bremen Institute of Canada and Québec Studies and co-editor of the journal Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies. In 2020, von Gleich submitted her dissertation “The Black Border and Fugitive Narration in Black American Literature” which analyzes concepts of fugitivity and captivity in Black North American narratives and Black feminist and Afro-pessimist theory. A past recipient of a Bridge scholarship (U of Bremen 2014) and a doctoral fellowship (Evangelisches Studienwerk 2015-2017), she also managed the office of the Association for Canadian Studies in German-Speaking Countries (2017-2019) and was visiting scholar in residence at the Barnard Center for Research on Women at Barnard College and the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University in fall 2016.

 
Gigi Adair, University of Bielefeld:
Technologies of Race and Identity and the Social in the Globalized Caribbean

This paper examines the way in which two contemporary Caribbean writers, Earl Lovelace and Robert Antoni, draw upon the colonial history and (neo)colonial concepts of technology to interrogate race, identity, culture and literature in the globalized, neoimperialist present of the Caribbean.

In his 2011 novel Is Just a Movie, Earl Lovelace offers a bitter satire of neoliberal and neoimperialist “development” politics and the promise of technology as a cure for history and as inaugurating its end. In contrast to such imported high tech “solutions” to Trinidad’s social and economic problems, the novel offers a utopian vision of carnival as a technology of personal, cultural and social transformation and thus as an engine of futurity. Robert Antoni’s work has offered an increasingly complicated interrogation of race and Caribbean identity, suspicious of calls for a transcendent or redemptive hybridity (Smith). This has taken place via a succession of technological innovations and interventions in the traditional literary and printed form of the novel, from mirrored or breakable plastic inserts in printed books to the companion website created for his 2013 novel As Flies to Whatless Boys. This historical novel of technological utopianism and colonial settlement (about the inventor John Adolphus Etzler and the Tropical Emigration Society) has commonly been described as a multimedia hybrid or a hypertext (Matas). In Antoni’s own view, however, the purpose of the website is to enable access to additional texts “without interrupting the flow of the narrative” (120-21). That is, digital technologies are employed to enable non-linear reading practices whilst also preserving access to a traditional literary aesthetic. This draws attention to the West Indian novel as itself a key technology of race and identity in the Caribbean, and demands a critical appraisal of the place and use of this technology to imagine Caribbean futures in a world of globalized culture.

 

Gigi Adair is a junior professor at the University of Bielefeld who specializes in Caribbean, African and British literature, postcolonial studies and gender studies. Her first book, Kinship Across the Black Atlantic: writing diaspora relations, was published by Liverpool University Press in 2019. In addition to her interest in technology, subjectivity and the social, she is currently working on migration literature, time and futurity.

 
Wolfgang Funk, University of Mainz:
“They were all blondes”: Intersections of Racism, Feminism and Eugenics in Mary Bradley Lane’s Mizora

In my paper I will examine intersection of race and gender in a largely and unjustifiably neglected text – Mary Bradley Lane’s Mizora: A Prophecy (1881), a novel often labelled as a ‘feminist utopia’, for example in the edited version published in 2000 by Syracuse UP. As I will argue in my paper, however, this feminist utopian phantasy, which chronicles the travel of the protagonist Vera Zarovitch to a country devoid of men and entirely based on matriarchal structures, is enabled by a concomitant glorification of racial purity, meaning in this case, that all Mizoran women are equally tall, blonde and blue-eyed. I will first set the scene for my reading of Mizora by outlining the scientific debates which are reflected in the novel, debates which ultimately can be traced back to Darwin’s paradigm-changing theory of adaptation through natural selection. With reference to contemporary writers such as Eliza Burt Gamble, Francis Swiney and Charlotte Perkins Gilman (whose novel Herland clearly shows the influence of Mizora), I will demonstrate how Darwin’s ideas – or, to be more precise, certain readings of them – facilitated biological claims for female superiority, a proto-feminist dream which ostensibly finds its fulfilment in the all-female society of Mizora. At the same time, however, the notion of biological evolution as ‘survival of the fittest’ (H. Spencer) also expediated notions of an inter-racial struggle for existence, which, in the name of spreading civilization, not only sought to justify British colonial expansion but also eventual laid the foundation for the idea that procreation should only be allowed to individuals or groups that could be said to bring humanity as a whole closer to its presumed perfection. In the light of these seemingly disparate but ultimately inextricable scientific discourses and availing myself of Angelique Richardson’s concept of ‘eugenic feminism’ (2001), I will read Mizora as a utopian thought experiment which gives evidence of both the promise for social and political change inherent in Darwinian evolution but also of the concomitant racism and threat to differentiation that potentially accompany such changes.

 

Wolfgang Funk is currently Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. He studied English, German and History at Universität Regensburg and has taught at Regensburg, Hanover and Leipzig. He is currently working on a post-doc project on late Victorian women poets and their use of evolutionary imagery. His other current research interests include the New Formalism, the representation of artificial intelligence, questions of authenticity in contemporary fiction as well as fictional representations of Brexit. He has published articles on Bryony Lavery (2007), Jasper Fforde (2010), Martin McDonagh (2010), Dave Eggers (2011), Jez Butterworth (2011), Hilary Mantel (2013), Peter the Wild Boy (2015), May Kendall (2015), Max Müller (2016) and Louisa Sarah Bevington (2017). He is the co-editor of Fiktionen von Wirklichkeit: Authentizität zwischen Materialität und Konstruktion (2011) and The Aesthetics of Authenticity: Medial Constructions of the Real (2012). His Ph.D. thesis “The Literature of Reconstruction: Authentic Fiction in the New Millennium” was published with Bloomsbury in 2015 and has been awarded the ESSE First Book Award in 2016. He is also the author of an introduction to Gender Studies (in German; utb, 2018).

 

3.2 – Science in Speculative Fiction III: Postcolonial Posthumanisms

Haydar Jabr Koban, Al-Ma’moun University College, Baghdad:
Representations of Science: Questions of Postcolonial Biotechnology and Dehumanization in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake

This paper attempts to clarify the impact of technology on postcolonial science fiction. It concentrates on the pessimistic and fearful influence that technology has or may have on humanity and shows how technology can be used to enslave and handcuff people and threaten their existence by making them live in catastrophic conditions. The study also shows how the fearful merging between the artificial (technology) and the real (human) leads to a change in the traditional notion of how humanity is defined and how dehumanization took place through technological development. The paper examines Margaret Atwood’s novel, Oryx and Crake (2003), the first part of Atwood’s MaddAddm trilogy, which is written during the postmodern age. The novel presents not only the problem of biotechnology but a post-apocalyptic landscape where humanity has been destroyed and ruined by the dissemination of a man-made virus, referred to in the narrative as the “flood.” The selected novel shows how Atwood changes her ideas and expresses her fears toward the abnormal progress of technology and science and draws through her novel a near-futuristic world in which the use of technology leads to catastrophic results and threatens the human existence on earth. The paper raises a central question of how do postcolonial science fiction writers like Atwood who are anxious about technological developments make their fictional worlds so vividly bleak that readers are instilled with the legitimate fear that the evil of the pages will spill out into reality? To explore this, the study focuses on the illusionary utopia and its dwellers – the downtrodden proletariat man/woman created by scientists. The conclusion sums up the findings of the study.

 

Dr. Haydar Jabr Koban is an Associate Professor in Postcolonial and Comparative Literature. His PhD dissertation title: Literary Representation of Environmentalism: A Postcolonial Ecocritical Study in Selected Global South novels. He is currently a faculty member of Al-Ma’moun College University, Baghdad – Iraq. He has lectured in many local and international institutions and has written several articles. He is a specialist in Postcolonial literature in the Arab Middle East and the representation of the Arab world in Western literature and media. His research interests directly relate to the rights of marginalized minorities, migration and Diaspora, women’s studies, violence, and terror, resistance and survival, histories and memorization, and other pertinent debates. Besides the academic career, He is a simultaneous interpreter with excellent experience in interpretation, a poet and novelist. He has a published volume of poetry (An Offering of Peace) and a novel in the process of text editing.

 
Hasan Serkan Demir, TU Chemnitz:
Post-Human Other: Kazu Ishiguro’s Science Fiction Novel Never Let Me Go

The concept of the “other” has a significant resonance in postcolonial discourse for the reason that, as Hasan Al-Saidi ironically puts it, “an imperialist must see the Other as different from the Self; and therefore he has to maintain sufficient identity with the Other to valorize control over it” (Al-Saidi 95). Thus, it can be argued that the other is the result of the estrangement of the self from the one who is different, alien and unknown, in order to gain certain authority over it. However, with the technological improvements and scientific innovations, the line between “the other” and “the self” has become blurry and ominous. In his novel Never Let Me Go (2005), Kazuo Ishiguro depicts the life of human clone students. Due to the fact that these students are not born from a human female womb, they are not considered as human beings, though, they are ‘uncannily’ similar to the humans (“self”). This uncanny similarity is threatening for the humans because it is the human who is, as Tony Davies notes, “always singular, always in the present tense, […] inhabit[ing] not a time or a place but a condition, timeless and unrealised”. Therefore, these uncanny clones are threatening the humans’ perception and belief in the individual’s singularity. Due to fear of the clones they are kept in a glass prison by an invisible hand.

This paper will focus on the question of how Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go portrays the fear of the other and how it illustrates the issue of the self and the other in the framework of postcolonial theory and science fiction. Furthermore, this paper will shed light on how “Western” scientific methods and their knowledge production methods are morally ambiguous.

 

Hasan Serkan Demir is an English Literature PhD student at Chemnitz University of Technology. He graduated from Celal Bayar University English Department BA program and Dokuz Eylül University American Culture and Literature MA program with his thesis: “Poesque Space as a fear factor in Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans and Never Let Me Go”. Currently, he is working on his PhD project: “In Search of Identity: The Illusional and Metaphorical Detective in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Novels”.

 
Md Abu Shahid Abdullah, East West University, Bangladesh:
Interplanetary Colonisation, Isolation and Overdependence on Technology: Depicting Crisis in the Aftermath of Nuclear Fallout in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The narrative of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? projects a post-nuclear earth where most of the animals become extinct and most of the surviving humans migrate to the Mars after a global military conflict called World War Terminus (WWT). The government’s Mars colonisation program advertisement hides the hidden agenda of depopulating earth of the remaining humans and strengthening the colonised planets. The aim of the presentation is to show that although the colonisation program on Mars or other colony planets saves the humans from extinction after WWT, the remaining human population on earth suffers from alienation and class conflict in the aftermath of the nuclear fallout. On the one hand, the colonisation program classifies the humans clinging on to earth to be biologically acceptable and a threat to the race, and on the other hand, the earth’s populace who were physiologically and psychologically affected by the dust are rejected from the normal society. As a result, the divided humans scattered all over the scorched earth are haunted by silence and antiquated objects. The presentation will also show that in order to cope with the loneliness and silence, humans resort to technological aids and entertainment devices which ultimately make them even more isolated from each other and tend to infuse them with certain egocentric ideologies. Last but not least, the presentation aims to show the way the manifold crisis in the post-nuclear earth depicted in the novel is primarily caused by a false sense of supremacy among the intelligent entities—the synthetic androids and the organic humans—a conflict within which technology acts as a catalyst. The ultimate conflict in the narrative occurs when the ideological values that the humans conform to turn into repression in their treatment of the androids, and in turn the androids mimic the same form of repression to defy human supremacy and brutalise organic animals.

 

Dr. Md Abu Shahid Abdullah completed his MA in English and American Studies and his PhD in English Literature at Otto-Friedrich University Bamberg, Germany. He is currently an Assistant Professor in English at East West University, Bangladesh. His research interests include trauma, alienation, memory, identity, marginalisation, postcolonialism, eroticism and magical realism. He has published articles on Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Saul Bellow, Angela Carter, Gabriel García Márquez, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Walt Whitman in various international journals. His first book Traumatic Experience and Repressed Memory in Magical Realist Novels: Speaking the Unspeakable has been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2020.

 

3.3 – Science, Power, Knowledge, and the State

Harshana Rambukwella, Open University of Sri Lanka:
‘Patriotic’ Science: The COVID 19 Pandemic and the Politics of Indigeneity

At the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic, when the prospect of a vaccine was remote, a rare space became available for mainstream discussions of ‘alternative science’ – particularly alternatives to ‘western’ allopathic medicine. This was visibly evident in the Sri Lankan context where practices ranging from ritual Buddhist chanting to indigenous syrups were promoted with much vigour. Some practices even received state endorsement. In many instances these ‘alternative’ discourses were framed in anti-colonial terms – as responses to an old but still keenly felt colonial injury. However, the emergence of these alternative scientific discourses also signaled a more insidious dimension to this celebration of indigeneity. On one hand members of a politically powerful professional body representing state allopathic medical doctors claimed ownership over this discourse – as ‘scientific and rational’ interpreters of indigenous knowledge. On the other, charlatan healers emerged with various concoctions for which certain medical professionals and politicians attempted to provide legitimacy – an attempt that failed spectacularly when the ‘true’ credentials of these charlatan healers were revealed. In both these instances – of allopathic doctors becoming custodians of indigenous knowledge and the promotion of charlatans – the ‘real’ casualty was what one might call ‘legitimate’ alternative medicine. The sudden eruption of these discourses of ‘alternative science’ in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic – and the narrowly framed ‘patriotism’ that drove these discourses – underscores a number of tensions and complexities that inform such discourses of indigeneity in post-colonial societies. This paper uses the current context in Sri Lanka to explore the historical forces that shape such discourses of indigeneity and critically interrogates the role nationalist politics plays within such discourses. Thereby, it also cautions against an uncritical fetishization of indigenous knowledge and instead argues for a more critically and historically situated dialogue about how such ‘indigenous’ knowledges can be understood and positioned in contemporary society.

 

Harshana Rambukwella is Director of the Postgraduate Institute of English at the Open University of Sri Lanka. He received his PhD from the University of Hong Kong, where he is Honorary Assistant Professor at the School of English. He is the author of The Politics and Poetics of Authenticity: A Cultural Genealogy of Sinhala Nationalism (2018). He has been a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Social Studies and Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh and has held a guest professorship at the South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg.

 
Anton Kirchhofer, Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg:
From the “danger of truth” to the “long truthful dance”?: On Cosmopolitan Science and Cultures of Violence in Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost

Abstract t.b.a.

 

Biographical note t.b.a.

 
Rovel Sequeira, University of Pennsylvania:
Scandals of the State: Prison Architecture and the Sciences of Pederasty in Late Colonial India

Testifying before the Indian Jails Committee in 1919, the medical officer John Mulvany stunned the colonial administration by accusing the Inspector-General of Bengal Prisons of coercing him to end his research on sodomy/pederasty in Calcutta’s jails since “it was a subject about which the Government desired to know nothing.” Because Mulvany’s “investigations had made him extremely unpopular and his life had been attempted more than once,” he seemingly desisted, while secretly continuing his “experiments” at the New Alipore Central Jail which he designed in 1913. By 1919, he publicly exposed the scandal, showcasing intercepted love-letters between prisoners as exemplary evidence for prison pederasty’s ubiquity. Taking this previously unstudied scandal as a provocation, I examine the early-20th-century Indian prison as a colonial sexological laboratory, arguing that it grounded a spatially-governed sexual science tied to the science of confinement.

I will show, first, that Mulvany’s experiments on subaltern sexual deviants helped reconstitute the architecture of the prisons he administered. Instrumentalizing racialized criminological theories about Indian prisoners’ affinity for sociability over privacy, he isolated sodomites in cellular confinement instead of in association wards to correct, not cure, their deviance. Second, I will show how Mulvany’s investigations shifted from foregrounding anatomical observation to documenting prisoners’ voices through intercepting their letters, but paradoxically, negated the individuality of his subjects—provoking assaults on him by his resistant subjects. Instead of localizing sodomy as the interiorized truth of the individual prisoner’s self, his experiments helped shift the imagination of pederasty/sodomy from repeated criminality to a moral/cultural notion of habitual excess. Finally, I will document how the state prevented the circulation of Mulvany’s studies, anticipating outcry about exposing Indian political prisoners to sexual abuse. The state’s coding of Mulvany’s studies as unscientific, even as it prevented it from circulating, continued to enable its disciplinary and repressive exercises of power.

 

Rovel Sequeira is a doctoral candidate in English, with an affiliation in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a Harry Ransom Center Dissertation Research Fellow in 2019 and is currently a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow. He is completing his dissertation project on the colonial histories of sexual science and literary forms in turn-of-the-20th century India. His interests include the global genealogies of queer politics, the history of science, and literary modernisms in the post/colony. His work on the now-defunct HIV/AIDS/Sex Museum, Antarang, in India for sex workers has appeared in Routledge’s Museums, Sexuality and Gender Activisms reader. A further article on the nascent genre of hijra autobiographies and global/Indian NGO activisms is forthcoming in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society in 2021.

 

3.4 – Under Construction III

Sára Bagdi, Kassák Museum Budapest:
Primitivism and Class Consciousness, the Representation of the “Other” in the Hungarian Workers’ Movement

Prehistoric and tribal cultures became frequently discussed topics of the Hungarian labour unions’ seminars between the two world wars. Lecturers introduced their audience to the anthropology of prehistoric man, tribal art, Darwinism and Freud’s totem and Taboo.

In this talk, I attempt to shed some light on the janus-faced nature of these seminars and I discuss the role of primitivism in socialist science education with Soma Braun in focus, who published his book (entitled Primitive cultures) on prehistory and tribal culture in 1923.

He intended it as a general educational reading for workers and discussed several aspects of prehistory and tribal culture over 250 pages. As a progressive socialist author, Braun claimed that no biological difference between modern and tribal people could be noted, he recognised women’s oppression as a structural problem and argued that solidarity could transgress the etno-nationalist models, but he also advocated an essentialist theory of social history where labour had become the single measure of value in human society. For Braun, as well as for other socialist authors, anthropology served as a tool to find plausible model-societies outside of the capitalist world to exemplify the ideal workers’ collectives, therefore discussions on the “primitive other” played a key role in the workers’ movement’s own self-definition process and this theoretic discourse did not remain isolated from the workers themselves. It influenced a generation of socialist educators, theatre practitioners and Esperantists. The socialist representations of the imagined “other” both contained regressive and innovative aspects; they provided an opportunity for progressive authors to tackle such issues as human rights violations and racial inequality but the discourse was also always linked to a process of constant appropriation of non-Western cultural elements which never abandoned general prejudices towards the “other”.

 

Sára Bagdi graduated in Art History (2018) and Aesthetics (2019) at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. In 2016, she joined the avant-garde research group of the Kassák Museum in Budapest and has been assisting the Museum’s projects since 2019. She is mainly interested in the social concepts behind the modernist and avant-garde cultural movements and in her formulating PhD research she plans to focus on how the Hungarian workers’ movement contributed to both the scientific and the everyday discussions about anthropology and ethnology during the 1920s and the 1930s.

 
Beatrice Falcucci, University of Florence; Gianmarco Mancosu, University of Warwick:
Exploring the Former Colonies: Safari (Visual) Cultures in Post-colonial Italy

Colonial empires have deployed a vast array of political, scientific, visual and narrative practices to “discover”, classify and dominate those lands both physically and epistemically, often labelling them as “remote”, “backwards”, exotic yet pristine. Since the late nineteenth century, the boundaries between exoticism and alleged scientific purposes in Africa became even more blurred in the pictures and films shot by the European filmmakers, who crafted footage instrumental to colonizers’ gaze and desires. Images and narratives about the untameable and dangerous flora and fauna, Big Game-hunting and Safari played a crucial role within colonial discourses. In the aftermath of imperialism, such symbols of dominance have been transformed into symbols of conservationism, which may still reflect the priorities imposed by Western powers to dominate the (former) colonial world geographically, economically as well as epistemically. Although ethnographic documentaries or travelogues focusing on the exotic encounter with “different” cultures have been largely studied in major colonial and postcolonial experiences, no thorough studies have been devoted so far to these visual products within the Italian context.

Against this background, our paper aims to offer a first delve into the relationship between reportage, “objective” knowledge of Africa and (post)colonial legacies in modern and contemporary Italian popular culture. Drawing on Maria Joao Castro’s standpoint, according to which “tourism is the final stage of colonialism”, our aim is to highlight the continuities between colonial documentaries on Africa’s flora and fauna and postcolonial films dealing with travelogue, Safari and Tourist attractions. The focus will be on two documentaries set in Eritrea produced in the late 50s and 60 and showing local traditions and pristine landscapes, and on a TV travel shows (Alle falde del Kilimangiaro, Geo&Geo) of early 2000s. Though different in format and purposes, both case studies provided no reference to the former colonial past; both, instead, use visual and discursive tropes reiterating an ambiguous form of epistemic control over African culture, strengthening the self-declared rationality of the European gaze and its cultural (and racial) diversity, creating an idolized notion of Africa and entailing the fetishization of African wildlife.

 

Beatrice Falcucci (Ph.D candidate, University of Florence) is a Ph.D candidate in History of Science at the University of Florence. Her research focuses on colonial collections in Italian Natural History museums and fascist colonialism’s relationship with science.

 

Gianmarco Mancosu (Ph.D, University of Cagliari; Ph.D, University of Warwick) is postdoctoral researcher in Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Cagliari. His research centres on histories and memories of Italian colonialism and decolonization.

 
Stefanie Kemmerer, Goethe University Frankfurt:
Yogascapes

This thesis is concerned with the intersections of two global phenomena: yoga and Social Media. Yoga today is a hybridized bodily and embodied practice developed from a variety of religious, philosophical, and socio-political influences that has made its way from counter-cultural practice to the heart of pop culture with a heightened presence especially on Social Media. What yoga is understood to be, what it looks like and whom it is for is strongly mediated by globally circulating images as can be found on platforms like Instagram. Arjun Appadurai’s concept of scapes and global flows accounts for the global dispersal of images and imaginations about yoga on this platform. Critical engagement with his thoughts draws attention to the impediments of such visual flows based on the technological underpinnings of Social Media platforms, replicating power relations of the analogous world. Ilan Kapoor’s view of Lacanian psychoanalysis adds an understanding of how drives and desire offer a breeding ground for constant consumption but also open up room to interrogate how the consumption of certain images represent our libidinal investments in prevailing power relations by asking questions like Who is it we see? How are they depicted? Whom do we not see? Why? Relying on the psychoanalytical concepts of desire, drive and gaze, the thesis seeks to offer answers to these questions in following W.J.T. Mitchell’s understanding of pictures as “active players” in the establishment and disruption of values (Mitchell 2005: 105) while at the same time consolidating the persistence of certain visual representations and modes of seeing with regard to representations of yoga on Instagram that are “deeply involved with human societies, with the ethics and politics, aesthetics and epistemology of seeing and being seen” (337-338).

 

Stefanie Kemmerer has studied Culture and Economy with a focus on Spanish Studies at the Universities of Mannheim and Alcalá de Henares. In her previous research she investigated representations of violence and power in the work of Spanish author Julio Llamazares. She has studied Comparative Literature at the University of Utrecht and is a member of Goethe University Frankfurt, where she is enrolled in the M.A. Moving Cultures – Transcultural Encounters programme. She is currently working on her master thesis titled Yogascapes – The Visual Politics of Yoga as seen on Instagram.