The News EventThursday, October 12, 2023, 6:00pm
Francis Cody will discuss his book The News Event: Popular Sovereignty in the Age of Deep Mediatization (University of Chicago Press, 2023). He will be joined in conversation by 3CT fellow William Mazzarella.
In the hypermediated world of Tamil Nadu, Cody studies how “news events” are made. Not merely the act of representing events with words or images, a “news event” is the reciprocal relationship between the events being reported in the news and the event of the news coverage itself. In The News Event, Cody focuses on how imaginaries of popular sovereignty have been remade through the production and experience of such events. Political sovereignty is thoroughly mediated by the production of news, and subjects invested in the idea of democracy are remarkably reflexive about the role of publicly circulating images and texts in the very constitution of their subjectivity. The law comes to stand as both a limit and positive condition in this process of event making, where acts of legal and extralegal repression of publication can also become the stuff of news about news makers. When the subjects of news inhabit multiple participant roles in the unfolding of public events, when the very technologies of recording and circulating events themselves become news, the act of representing a political event becomes difficult to disentangle from that of participating in it. This, Cody argues, is the crisis of contemporary news making: the news can no longer claim exteriority to the world on which it reports.
Francis Cody is associate professor in the anthropology department and the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Light of Knowledge: Literacy Activism and the Politics of Writing in South India.
William Mazzarella is the Neukom Family Professor of Anthropology and the Social Sciences and a 3CT fellow at the University of Chicago.