A podcast about bridging art, activism, and academia to build more just futures. On each episode, host Cathy Hannabach interviews the scholars, dancers, authors, artists, and filmmakers imagining collective freedom and creating it through culture.
Tamara Kneese on Death in the Digital Platform Age
In episode 157 of Imagine Otherwise, host Cathy Hannabach interviews media scholar and Ideas on Fire author Tamara Kneese about the complex relationship between Big Tech and mortality, specifically how digital media platforms mediate our experiences of death.
Tamara is a senior researcher and project director of Data & Society’s AIMLab, and her new book Death Glitch: How Techno-Solutionism Fails Us in This Life and Beyond was recently published by Yale University Press.
In their conversation, Tamara and Cathy chat about how platform economies built around planned obsolescence shape our experiences of life and death, as well as how gig workers, families, and community organizers are creatively harnessing these tools for progressive possibilities.
Tamara shares how in forms like cancer blogs, digital estate planning, online memorializations, and networked mutual aid in the context of COVID-19, communities are reimagining what collaborative online labor and worldbuilding look like.
They close out the episode with Tamara’s vision for more just afterlives as well as a more just present, where digital technologies are put to use ensuring labor rights, climate justice, and more expansive futures for us all.
Transcript and show notes: https://ideasonfire.net/157-tamara-kneese
Nicosia Shakes on Black Women's Activist Theater
In episode 156 of Imagine Otherwise, host Cathy Hannabach interviews scholar and artist Nicosia Shakes, whose creative and scholarly work celebrates the intertwining of political activism and performance across the African diaspora.
Nicosia's play Afiba and Her Daughters, which offers an intergenerational narrative of Jamaican herstory, premiered at the Rites and Reason Theatre in Providence.
Nicosia’s new book Women’s Activist Theatre in Jamaica and South Africa: Gender, Race, and Performance Space analyzes the work of four contemporary women-led theater groups and projects with a focus on how their activist productions take on gender injustice, racism, gang and state violence, and economic inequality.
In their conversation, Nicosia and Cathy chat about Nicosia’s familial journey into community theater and why this kind of performance is such a powerful activist tool.
She also shares the complexities of doing a transnational feminist, multisited ethnography across two continents and why a methodology of co-performative witnessing is so crucial for engaged theater research.
Finally, they close out the episode with how Nicosia imagines otherwise for the future of Black and African diasporic artistic productions and the worlds they build on and off the stage.
Transcript, teaching guide, and show notes: https://ideasonfire.net/156-nicosia-shakes
Meryl Alper on Autistic Kids’ Digital Media
In episode 155 of Imagine Otherwise, host Cathy Hannabach interviews disability media studies scholar Meryl Alper.
Meryl is the author of 3 books about how kids with disabilities use digital technologies, including her most recent book, Kids Across the Spectrums: Growing Up Autistic in the Digital Age.
Kids Across the Spectrums is out now from MIT Press and it is the first book-length ethnography of the digital lives of diverse young people on the autism spectrum.
In their conversation, Cathy and Meryl chat about how autistic and neurodivergent youth and their families resist popular assumptions about their media use while also using digital technologies like TikTok, Scratch, and YouTube to build community, explore identity, and learn new skills.
Meryl also shares some behind-the-scenes context about how she navigated ethnographic research during the pandemic and found the spark for this current book in some of her earlier research.
They delve into why moral panics over how autistic kids use media often index broader cultural anxieties over how technology is altering society and what it means for the actual youth caught in the middle of these debates.
Cathy and Meryl close out the episode with how Meryl imagines otherwise to help build a more just future that centers the worldviews, needs, and desires of neurodivergent and disabled youth.
Transcript and show notes: https://ideasonfire.net/155-meryl-alper
Kristie Soares on Joy in Latinx Media
In episode 154 of Imagine Otherwise, host Cathy Hannabach interviews performance artist and gender studies scholar Kristie Soares about the political power of pleasure, laughter, and joy in Latinx media.
Kristie’s new book Playful Protest: The Political Work of Joy in Latin Media has chapters about gozando in salsa music, precise joy among the New Young Lords Party, choteo in the comedy ¿Qué Pasa U.S.A.?, azúcar in the life and death of Celia Cruz, dale as Pitbull’s signature affect, and silliness in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s interventions into political violence.
In the episode, Kristie shares her journey into studying what joy can do for social and political movements as well as the pleasure-filled genealogies of feminist, queer, and trans of color artists and cultural producers that shaped her approach to political joy.
She also gives us a behind-the-scenes look into some almost-book moments, or what didn’t end up in this book but that opened onto a new project about queer excess.
Cathy and Kristie close out the conversation with Kristie’s project of building a world where QTPOC joy is not policed and pleasure is embraced as an integral part of social, economic, and political life.
Transcript and show notes: https://ideasonfire.net/154-kristie-soares
Cynthia Franklin on Narrative and Activist Politics
Host Cathy Hannabach interviews literature professor Cynthia Franklin about the politics of life writing.
Cynthia’s new book Narrating Humanity: Life Writing and Movement Politics from Palestine to Mauna Kea traces the complex ways activists, artists, cultural producers, and scholars engage genres like memoir and autobiography to resist racial capitalism, imperialism, heteropatriarchy, and climate change.
In their conversation, Cynthia and Cathy chat about why narrative plays such a large role in defining who gets to count as human and how that narrative definition shapes everything from economic policy and medical care to police violence and environmental degradation.
Cynthia shares how movements like Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, Students for Justice in Palestine, and the Native Hawaiian movement to protect Mauna a Wākea push back against such narrative humanity, using collaborative praxis and transformative solidarity to build new models for collective care and liberation.
Transcript and show notes: https://ideasonfire.net/153-cynthia-franklin
Magdalena Barrera and Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales on The Latinx Guide to Graduate School
In episode 152 of Imagine Otherwise, host Cathy Hannabach interviews education scholars and leaders Magdalena L. Barrera and Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales about their new book The Latinx Guide to Graduate School.
Magdalena and Genevieve teamed up to write this guide after many years of advising Latinx graduate students struggling to navigate the hidden curriculum of academia—a curriculum built around norms of whiteness, wealth, and settler heteronormativity.
Demonstrating the brilliance, scholarly rigor, and leadership these graduate students bring to academia, they created this guide to center the worldviews and lives of Latinx communities in graduate education.
In their conversation, Magdalena and Genevieve share about their process for researching and writing the book, particularly how they navigated the co-authoring process amidst busy teaching and administrative responsibilities.
They also explain how faculty and advisors can support prospective and current graduate students in embracing their full lives—lives that extend beyond many graduate programs’ myopic focus on research productivity alone.
Cathy, Magdalena, and Genevieve close out their conversation with Magdalena and Genevieve’s vision for remaking PhD and MA programs in the service of a culturally liberatory education.
Magdalena L. Barrera is the vice provost for faculty success at San José State University, where she provides leadership on all aspects of faculty recruitment and professional advancement.
Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales is a professor in the School of Education at the University of San Francisco, where her research focuses on the educational and political lives of Latinx communities, undocumented young people, and immigrant families at the Mexico–US border.
Transcript and show notes: https://ideasonfire.net/152-barrera-negron-gonzales