"Techniques of Inattention: Religion and the Mediality of Loudspeakers in Nigeria"

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Brian Larkin
Date and Time: 
Monday, January 28, 2013 - 3:15pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


For scholars of religion, attention is a religious act, a form of self-cultivation enjoined by traditions of religious discipline. For media theorists, attention is the aftereffect of technologies, it refers to the way machine ensembles operate upon the body, arranging it in space. This paper draws on the use of loudspeakers in Nigeria, particularly their implication in religious violence, to examine the mutual imbrication of religion and media. It then goes on to argue that this admixture is central to producing an ambient experience of urban life for Northern Nigerians.


Brian Larkin is the author of Signal and Noise: Infrastructure, Media and Urban Culture in Nigeria, (Duke, 2008) and the co-editor of Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain (California, 2000). He writes on issues of media, infrastructure and religion in Nigeria and is currently completing the manuscript, Secular Machines: Media and the Materiality of Islamic Revival. Larkin teaches anthropology at Barnard College, Columbia University.

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