Past Event

Architecture/Art History PhD Forum: Ayesha Omer, 'Mediating Dust: An Environmental Media Approach to Global Infrastructure Networks'

April 28, 2023
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
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934 Schermerhorn Hall

Ayesha Omer completed her Ph.D. from the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University in summer 2020. From 2020-21, she held a postdoctoral fellowship with the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Southern California. She has a background in mix-media, public performance art and her creative and academic work has appeared in ArtNowCityscapes, Tanqeed, and Cultural Studies.

Omer's research lies at the intersection of media, cultural, environmental, and global studies with area foci on Pakistan and China. Her book manuscript, Networks of Dust: Media, Infrastructure, and Ecology along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, examines China's infrastructures in Pakistan’s indigenous borderlands, as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — a flagship project of China’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This project focuses on critical CPEC infrastructures: Huawei’s fiber optics that link Xinjiang to Islamabad and form a digital borderland in Kashmir’s Himalayas; trade logistics technologies that mediate Gwadar’s deep waters in the Arabian Sea into standing reserve for its port and special economic zone; and data modeling and simulations technologies for coal energy futures in the Thar Desert. Her findings demonstrate that forms of technological extraction of indigenous lifeworlds inevitably produce what locals on CPEC grounds call “dust”. She argues that dust is the counter-imaginary of global connection.

The Architecture / Art History PhD Forum is not a public lecture, but a focused, seminar discussion. The forum provides an opportunity for PhD students within art history and architecture to discuss the work of prominent academics and theorists from an interdisciplinary perspective. Invited speakers will briefly present on their work, focusing in part on pre-circulated articles or book chapters, from the standpoint of "method" -- how they defined the questions to be addressed, in what manner they approached them, by what means they determined their critical stakes -- before opening the floor to questions and general discussion from the seminar participants. These informal, but focused, seminars will provide an opportunity to discuss the production of intellectual material in ways that will inflect, inform, and inspire students' own work.