Archaeologies of Audio/visual Industries and the Military

SCMS pre-conference, seminar co-organized with Dr. Emily Doucet,

Exploring the material, visual, political, and economic functions of military media, a variety of approaches to the histories of media, war, and the military have emerged in recent decades. This seminar builds on this boom in scholarship by focusing on the archaeology of audio/visual media in the military. More precisely, it asks two interrelated questions. First, we would like to explore the ways by which we might avoid the artificial boundaries between media histories across the military, civilian, and corporate spheres, which are implicit in the very notion of “military media”. What archives and what historiographical and theoretical tools are useful to think about the entangled histories of the means of mass destruction and mass entertainment? 

Taking a purposefully broad approach to the concept of “audio/visual” media to encompass media technologies such as television, radio, photography, cinema, and others, we further ask what an intermedial approach to the histories of media and the military might look like. What new venues for critical scholarship are possible if we think beyond “war and cinema”, “photography and war” etc. in order to analyze the “logistics of perception”such as it is sustained through the military media assemblage?

Specific topics could include:

  • The circulation of media technologies, research, and people between industry and military
  • The use of, and access to, archives beyond government and military sources
  • Labour and gender in military media histories
  • Media histories of military and war beyond world superpowers
  • Training manuals in media history and their circulation in military / amateur / professional spheres
  • Imaginaries of military media practices
  • Theories of communication in military media history
  • Media archaeological approaches to military history

Before the seminar participants will be asked to prepare a short reading list on the seminar topic and select a single object, image, or archival source to discuss during the seminar. Seminar leaders will collate the reading lists and circulate prior to the seminar, highlighting several short texts from the list for preparation and discussion during the seminar. During the seminar participants will have 3-4 minutes to briefly present their selected source and how it relates to the challenges, themes and questions of the seminar. Having received these submissions in advance, seminar leaders will order the contributions with a mind to drawing out particular themes and interests of the group.