public sphere

After Pulse: Queer Intimacies in the Shadow of Orlando


Existential Stress Ball

It’s been ages since I’ve posted on here, and I’m both saddened and frustrated that it’s taken the anniversary of the Pulse Orlando massacre for me to get back to writing about these sorts of issues. The shootings at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida, USA, took place exactly one year ago, when I was working on a book manuscript about intimacy, belonging, and affect on the (electronic music) dancefloor. As the summer went on and the shockwaves from the attack continued to reverberate within queer Latinx/QTPoC, I found myself writing a very different epilogue to the book than I had planned. I’m still putting the finishing touches on the manuscript, but I thought I would share an excerpt from the epilogue, which recounts the aftermath of the Pulse shooting and begins to reflect on what that might mean for queer public intimacy, shared risk/trauma, and historiography.


I learned of the Orlando massacre right after returning home to Birmingham after a week spent teaching at a summer school in Prague. After the plane landed (more…)

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Resonances: Music, Affect, and the City


The header from the poster for the "Resonances" conference.

Header taken from the “Resonances” poster

Last week, I organized a two-day conference here in Berlin, which took the affective dimensions of urban soundscapes as its central theme. Running November 7th–8th at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, the conference featured a mix of scholarly presentations and discussion panels that included professionals out of Berlin’s local music scene, as well as  music/sound-related evening events  (see the conference program at the end of this post).  I’m still recovering from the whole thing (as well as from an opportunistic flu that jumped into my body as soon as the conference came to a close), but I wanted to post some of my impressions of the conference, while they are still vivid in my memory. Considering the vanishingly small operating budget and a similarly tight planning period, I’m somewhat amazed I was able to pull it off at all.

Plans for this conference first arose last July, (more…)

La Mission: Life in a Hedonist-Doomsday-Cult-Art-Collective


La Mission Logo

La Mission’s mail logo / revolutionary symbol.

La Mission has been a big part of my life here in Berlin since last summer, but strangely enough it’s taken me nearly a year to get around to writing about it on this blog. Maybe I wanted to wait until the first round of multimedia craziness emerged from this performance art collective / music label / magazine, before I started crowing about it. Maybe I was too shy about discussing my own creative work. No, wait…I remember why: I was on the academic job market last fall, which meant that I got nothing else done.

La Mission is a lot of things, including a satirical doomsday cult, a music label, a magazine, an art collective, and a group of dance-music-lovers with a very dirty sense of humor. La Mission’s identity is perhaps best summed up by cult-leader El Jefe’s manifesto/sermon, “The Sermon for the Steps of the Ziggurat in our Hearts,” published in our first La Mission magazine: (more…)

GEMA en français: French Coverage of the Anti-GEMA Protests


Screenshot from the front page of SACEM, the French equivalent of GEMA

Beyond Germany’s borders, the debates over GEMA and its new tarif system rarely get much coverage, only spawning the occasional under-researched, “Will Berlin’s Nightclubs Perish?” sort of articles in the foreign press. But Berlin is an increasingly international city full of expatriates—many of them “creative” workers that have personal and professional links into the local music scenes here—and some of them have been blogging about this issue in their own language, explaining the issue to readers in their countries of origin while also informing their fellow expatriates in Berlin. I’ve been up to a bit of that myself in English, writing on recent anti-GEMA protests and translating pieces of Germanlanguage news items. But I can also translate from French and Spanish (among others).

So today, I thought I’d move laterally and (more…)

Touristen Fisten: Themes and Images in Berliner Anti-Tourism / Anti-Gentrification Discourses


Somewhere near Erkstrasse and Sonnenallee in Neukölln.

My Berlin research files are organized under a number of folders, including one for “Tourism Debates” and another one for “Gentrification Debates.” These days, I’m thinking I need to merge these two folders, since the debates have become increasingly intertwined (and often hopelessly confused). In a recent opinion article in Die Zeit online, entitled, “Burn the Tourists” (“Touristen anzünden”), David Hugendick complains that left-political anti-gentrification discourse has taken an ironically xenophobic turn by harnessing anti-tourist (and, more broadly, anti-foreigner) sentiment. Of course, this article is almost interchangeable with a wide range of opinion pieces that have been appearing in mainstream German-language newspapers in the last while, part of a larger (and older) pattern in Berlin of countering critical voices from the left by associating them with violent tactics and contrarian positions.

In any case, although it is debatable whether (more…)

Talking Culture, Money, and Music: Anti-GEMA Protests


The view from somewhere near the stage, back over Boxhagener Platz

Yesterday, there was yet another anti-GEMA demonstration held at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, just in front of the bar/club Stereo 33. There have been an ongoing series of these demonstrations in Berlin since at least late spring, but this event was interesting for how it mixed music and talk, as well as themes of culture and money.

For those of you who haven’t been living in Germany over the past year and haven’t been bombarded with (more…)

Typologies of Tourism Photography (in Translation)


I couldn’t find any “Ethno-Bild” images in my collection of photos, but the “Oh hey, grim architecture in the developing world” thing is pretty clichéd as well. From Lima, Perú.

Last Sunday, Süddeutsche Zeitung’s bloggy online stepchild Jetzt.de published a brief article entitled, “Everything is so wonderfully different here!” (Alles so schön anders hier!), which sketches out a semi-serious/semi-satirical typology of the kinds of vacation photos you’ll find on your friends’ Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram feeds (oh, and Google+ too, I suppose). Lately, I’ve been been up to here (*points to neck*) with work, preparing articles for publication and getting a book proposal ready and preparing for the job market and figuring out how to renew my visa and my passport at the same time and entertaining a constant stream of house-guests and AAAGH TOO MUCH. So, following the example of my post last month where I translated part of a German-language article on negative stereotypes about tourists, I thought I’d do the same with this article. Like that earlier post, I’m only translating a small portion of a longer article. If you can read German, I encourage you to check out the original article here; if you like what you read and wish you could read it in English, send ’em an email and suggest that they hire a brilliant and attractive freelance translator (*ahem*) so that you can read the whole thing.

1. The Ethnic Picture (Das Ethno-Bild) (more…)