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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Seminar - Immigration, Integration and Infrastructure

9th January 2017, 13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor Anna McCarthy (New York University, USA)

This seminar uses a historical case study to explore how projects of governance translate from one scale to another, from the local to the national and beyond.

The focus of the research presentation is a small scale experiment conducted in New York City shortly after World War Two. Using public and private funding, the City installed a closed-circuit television system in a new tower block housing project on the West Side of Manhattan. The block was home to a number of families recently arrived from Puerto Rico to New York, part of a U.S. government programme called Operation Bootstrap. Mindful of these new residents, the experiment's directors conceived of the infrastructural TV system as a way of integrating foreign populations, providing language instruction and other public services.

This micro-level belief in television's assimilating effects mirrored, with important differences, views that circulated among the governing classes at the same time. This was the high point of efforts to turn television into an instrument of liberal governance, its administration extending beyond the confines of the state.

For our purposes, however, it is more helpful to understand this and other early instances of electronic media governance along a diachronic axis, as one technocratic origin point for contemporary efforts to implement visual technologies in the public-private scenes that constitute migrant daily life.

Fellows' seminars take place on Monday lunchtimes in the seminar room at Cosin's Hall.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

The aim of these seminars is to develop new thinking on the big issues that are of current concern/interest for the Fellows . Each Fellow is asked to present a core idea that informs their current work, or a problem that they are tackling, that could benefit from cross-disciplinary thinking. These seminars are informal and designed to encourage discussion.

Contact for more information about this event.