2021-2022 HTDTWT seminar Amit Rai: Decolonising Attention: Perception, Movement, Technics Within and Against the Postcolony

About Amit S. Rai

The seminar from month to month

ParticipantsDavid Přílučík, Ioli Kavakou, Lucas Braga, Hannah Jones, Isabelle Weber, Lau ten Zeldam, Maoyi Peixuan Qui, Bambi van Balen, Iga Świeściak, Rhodé Visser, Michael Fischer, René Landspersky.

Thesis Coaching Matches 


Today, as Yves Citton reminds us, if you’re getting something for free, you are the product. The paradox is that we do not yet know what even this commodified body can do.

So how does it go with the paradoxes of attention?

This opens on to other questions... What is the virtuality and actuality of (non)human attention? What is the difference between contemplation and attending? What does this have to do with the history colonization and the enslavement of African peoples. What is the ecology of practice that draws on attentional resources and acts upon attention as a target and instrument. How do we decolonize attention understood as a pre-existing set of attentional processes, targets, measures, and rhythms that in their force relations create different historically specific atmospheres for attention processes to take hold? This production of consumerist subject effects through the modulation of attention, produced at the intersections of identity, technology, social change, neoliberal value capture, habits of perception and decolonial praxis, and through processes of social/class/caste/gender/racial/embodied struggle and the organising of our counter- powers, are all invested in managing and monetising ecologies of attention. What is decolonising attention? In which way does the hangover of the rational (norms of white, male, straight, property owning citizenship) subject still affect activist and academic discussions of attention in contemporary ecosophical analysis of techno-perceptual assemblages, miring it in a-historical metaphors of competitiveness? In what sense does the decolonial experimentation with heterogeneous cosmologies within, against, and beyond Europe propose as well new logics of sensation that are actively decolonising attention?

This seminar proposes to study this question/problem/affect called attention under racial capital. To study collectively by breaking decisively from extractivist or expropriating logics and practices of research, knowing and becoming—to study a possible and potential decolonial option for ecologies of attention, one that moves from a contemplation of “curious objects” to an active decolonising synthesis of habit, memory, temporality, technology, and creativity in digital and analogue media ecologies. We will begin by contextualising the attention economy in post-workerist praxis (Crary, Bellour, Lazzarato, Terranova, Citton, Berardi) in terms of the historical project of decolonisation (Fanon, Cabral, Mignolo, Freire, Lara), postcolonial criticism (wa Thiogo, Spivak, Bhabha, Anzuldua), and Black radical thought (Davis, Sharpe, Moten and Harney, Hartman, Warren). We will then consider the critical conditions necessary for the overthrow of Platonic framings of non-western techno-animisms, materialist and revolutionary vitalisms, and queer technophenomenologies. Finally, we will consider the viability and virality of attention economies in the age of the Anthropocene through an ecological analysis of Marx’s Organic Composition of Capital and Heidegger’s Question Concerning Technology.


Preliminary Bibliography:

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter. Duke University Press, 2010.

Wa Thiong'o, N. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. East African Publishers, 1992.

Terranova, T. "Attention, Economy and the Brain." Culture Machine, 13 (2012).

Citton, Yves. The Ecology of Attention. John Wiley & Sons, 2017.

Deleuze, Gilles. Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1988.

Guattari, The Three Ecologies

Martin Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Garland, 1977.

Marx, On the Organic Composition of Capital

Stengers, Isabelle. “Reclaiming Animism.” In e-flux journal, no. 36. (July 2012).

TallBear, Kim. "Beyond the Life/Not Life Binary: A Feminist-Indigenous Reading of Cryopreservation, Interspecies Thinking and the New Materialisms." In Cryopolitics, ed. Joanna Radin and Emma Kowal. Cambridge, Massachusetts; London: MIT Press, 2017.

TallBear, Kim. “Dossier: Theorizing Queer Inhumanisms: An Indigenous Reflection on Working Beyond the Human/Not Human.” In GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Vol. 21(2-3). (2015): 230-235.

Haritaworn, Jinthana. “Decolonizing the Non/Human.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian
and Gay Studies 21, no 2-3 (2015): 210-213.

Lugones, Marìa. “Toward a Decolonial Feminism.” Hypatia 25, no. 4 (2010):

Serres, Michael. Thumbelina: The Culture and Technology of Millennials. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.