My research centers on the politics of digital media and culture. While my objects of analysis tend toward the popular and contemporary, I situate them within lengthier conceptual, theoretical and cultural histories.
The driving philosophy behind my research is that it should provide a critical examination of the contemporary world. This means that it must place at its center the powerful structures and forces in which social life is embedded: capitalism, gender, race, nation. I am especially interested in the history of these categories, how they have unfolded through a dialectical relationship with the manifold social forces which inevitably arise to contest them, extending to the highly mediated societies of today.
Historical struggles form the terrain of today’s digital world, and only an approach alive to power and resistance, can grasp digital culture in all its complexity. My overall research agenda is to construct a critical theory of the digital world and cultural production from the perspective of social antagonism and struggle.
I place my work among critical and interdisciplinary bodies of scholarship: critical media studies, cultural studies, science and technology studies and the digital humanities. I pull from a variety of methodological approaches: textual analysis, political economy of media, digital archival research, and ethnography (online and in meatspace).
I’ve conducted a few larger projects. For my master’s thesis, I conducted a historical and ethnographic investigation into Detroit’s ghettotech scene, to explore issues of racial representation, local media ecologies and emerging digital methods of cultural production, distribution and consumption. My doctoral dissertation, which I published as a book, is a theorization of media piracy, contextualized within the restructuring of labor and social organization during the neoliberal period and the rise of digital networks.
I’m also completing a book for Verso on popular resistance to machines. I take inspiration from the infamous Luddite rebellions of the early 19th Century. While these outbursts of machine-breaking are often portrayed as politically retrograde actions against progress, I attempt to reconcile them with Marxist theorizations of class struggle. From there, I trace a Luddite thread of activity within workers’ movements, as well as a heretical strain of Luddite Marxism, which I argue can theorize emerging resistance to contemporary digital capitalism.
What follows is my academic publication record.
2021. Breaking Things At Work. Verso.
2019. Media Piracy in the Cultural Economy: Intellectual Property and Labor Under Neoliberal Restructuring. Routledge.
2018. “Digital Proudhonism,” boundary2.
2016. “Piracy as Labor Struggle,” tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique.
2013. “Culture, Technology and Hyper-Industrial Capitalism” (co-authored with Tai Neilson, Lisa Daily, and David Rheams). Reviews in Cultural Theory 4.1.
2012. “Be the Street: On Radical Ethnography and Cultural Studies.” Viewpoint Magazine, Issue 2.
2012. “The Hipster Labor of Conspicuous Leisure,” Politics and Culture.
2012. Entries for “Detroit Ghettotech,” “Miami Bass,” “Baltimore Club.” New Grove Dictionary of American Music, Oxford UP.
The book review essay is one of my favorite literary genres, and I’ve made my own contributions, published in political magazines and academic journals.
Bastani, Aaron. Fully Automated Luxury Communism. Verso, 2019. Reviewed in Commune Magazine.
Sauter, Molly. The Coming Swarm: DDOS Actions, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet. Bloomsbury, 2014. Reviewed in boundary 2.
Coleman, Gabriella. Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. Verso, 2014. Reviewed in boundary 2.
Ball, Jared. I Mix What I Like!: A Mixtape Manifesto. AK Press, 2011. Reviewed in Viewpoint Magazine.
Drott, Eric. Music and the Elusive Revolution: Cultural Politics and Political Culture in France, 1968-1981. U of California Press, 2011. Reviewed in Journal of Popular Music and Society.
Madrid, Alejandro L. Nor-tec Rifa! Electronic Dance Music From Tijuana to the World. Oxford UP, 2008. Reviewed in Current Musicology.