Roundtable: The New Ethereality

  • Thursday, February 18, 2021 / 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM (PST)
  • With Marisa Duarte, Shannon Mattern & Rahul Mukherjee

This roundtable is part of the Carsey-Wolf Center’s winter 2021 series “Media, Technology, and Politics under Pressure.” “The New Ethereality” will focus on the contemporary politics of wireless communication, with special attention paid to the cultural and governmental imaginaries that accrue to emerging wireless infrastructures like 5G. Wirelessness has long been embedded in a range of divergent cultural, political, and social narratives. Today, it is as central to the enduring promise of untrammeled global connectivity as it is to the paranoid divinations of conspiracy theorists. What is at stake in this volatile mix of epistemologies? How might historical debates regarding the possibilities, the substance, and indeed the very existence of the ether help us to grapple with a new era of ethereal speculation?

The roundtable featured Marisa Duarte (Arizona State University), Shannon Mattern (New School for Social Research), and Rahul Mukherjee (University of Pennsylvania), and was moderated by Tyler Morgenstern (UCSB).

Panelists have created a file of common readings in preparation for this discussion, which is available here. Audience members are invited to review these documents in advance if they choose.



Marisa Duarte (Arizona State University)

Marisa Duarte researches problems of information, knowledge, and technology in Native American and Indigenous contexts. For example, her most recent work examines tensions between wearable technologies, privacy, and well-being among marginalized peoples, specifically among Indigenous and Mexican American women. She also investigates Native and Indigenous peoples uses of social media, construction of large-scale digital infrastructures, and interfaces that allow for the circulation of Indigenous ways of knowing. Her work requires understanding of Western and Indigenous philosophies of science and technology, as well as Indigenous concepts of justice.


Shannon Mattern (New School for Social Research)

Shannon Mattern is a Professor of Anthropology at the New School for Social Research. She is the author of The New Downtown Library: Designing with Communities; Deep Mapping the Media City; Code and Clay, Data and Dirt; and The City Is Not a Computer, forthcoming from Princeton University Press. She contributes a regular long-form column about urban data and mediated infrastructures to Places Journal, and she collaborates on public design and interactive projects and exhibitions. You can find her at


Rahul Mukherjee (University of Pennsylvania)

Rahul Mukherjee is the Dick Wolf Associate Professor of Television and New Media Studies at University of Pennsylvania. His work examines the politics of wireless technologies and mobile phone cultures in India and beyond. Rahul’s research has been published in many journals including New Media & Society, Science, Technology & Human Values, and Asiascape: Digital Asia. Rahul has been an Atkinson Center Sustainable Futures Fellow at the Society for the Humanities, Cornell University. He is part of the editorial collective at Journal of Visual Culture.

Headshot of Tyler Morgenstern. The black and white image depicts a man wearing a scarf and floral button-up long sleeve shirt. He is smiling and posed in front of a nature background which features a pond, large trees and mountains.

Moderator Tyler Morgenstern

Tyler Morgenstern is a PhD candidate in the Department of Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a former Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. His research focuses primarily on the design, deployment, and use of information and communication technologies—particularly wireless ICTs—in colonial contexts. He is co-editor of Moving Images: Mediating Migration as Crisis (Transcript Verlag 2020), and his writing has appeared in Synoptique, The International Journal of Communication, and The Conversation.

This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.

Media, Technology, and Politics Under Pressure

As part of the Carsey-Wolf Center’s commitment to groundbreaking research in Film and Media Studies, we will sponsor a series of three virtual roundtables in winter 2021 under the rubric “Media, Technology, and Politics under Pressure”. Participants will explore the past, present, and future of media in the wake of the anxieties and possibilities of our current moment. A number of key questions will guide our discussions. What possibilities, responsibilities, and obligations gather around film and media study in a historical moment defined by the pressures of racism, the global health pandemic, and subsequent challenges to notions of community, belonging, and purpose? How might we better understand our current time by reflecting on the past, present, and future of media, including cinema, television, and wireless technologies?