Rosalind C. Morris

Grey Room Inc., and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Spring 2013


Thailand, the Philippines, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, the United States, Mexico, France, England, Italy, Greece. From around the world rises the repeated specter of a crowd that calls for change. This crowd erupts in public, seemingly spontaneously, but also as the apparently inevitable manifestation of an incipience that had been repressed only temporarily by the state. The crowd calls in the name of a public that it appears to incarnate but that exceeds it both temporally and spatially. The crowd appropriates a material place of definitive parameters, while circuiting its discourse through the dematerializing space of the global media. And the crowd speaks in a voice that resounds in the apparently transparent idiom of a transnational language of democracy, a voice that is said to have been waiting for the occasion of its sounding forth: the people’s voice. And yet, this appearance of a speaking is no longer to be understood in the terms of communicative action, because it has entered into a specular arena in a manner that severs that which can be seen from that which can be heard. In the process, the possibilities for representational politics have been refigured. How can we understand this metamorphosis in the long history of a relation between media and politics?

View the paper hereTheses on the New Öffentlichkeit