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The Cultural Production of Mumia Abu-Jamal

The writings, recordings, and digital iterations of Pennsylvania death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal generate controversy and complicated discourse while connecting his body to his figure through his oeuvre.
by

lewis levenberg

on 27 April 2010

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Transcript of The Cultural Production of Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Cultural Production
of Mumia Abu-Jamal Cultural PRoduction Who He Is Of artifacts of Figure Born in 1954
Teenage Black Panther - Philadelphia chapter co-founder
Public radio journalist - talk show host
Fired for sympathetic coverage of MOVE - cab driver (1981) 9 December 1981:
Arrested for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Tried, convicted, and sentenced
Remains on Death Row today. Short, op/ed commentaries
Collections of commentaries
Popular and scholarly literature Discursive
Heteronomous
Synecdochic Audio
Textual
Digital Literature Review Media
Body
Oeuvre
Figure Research Methods Qualitative:
Archival, Textual, and Observatory
Informal Interaction
Medium-Specific Practices
(listening, reading, and viewing)
*from archaeology to genealogy* MAIN POINTS 1994: NPR hires Abu-Jamal,
then cancels his broadcasts
before they air. After NPR's decision, he publishes six books.
The three most recent are longer, more complex,
more focused, and he writes them faster. Neither the incarcerated Abu-Jamal,
nor the deceased Daniel Faulkner
can access the conversations about them online:
They experience a radical digital divide. *Structuration (Orlikowski 2000)*
Dependency Relationships (Ball-Rokeach and DeFleur 1976)
Third Person Effect (Davison 1983) *Disciplinary and Regulatory Power* (Foucault 1975)
*Archaeology and Genealogy* (Foucault 1978)
Deleuze 1988
Butler 1990, 1993
Haver 1996
Agamben 2009 *"Body Without Organs"* (Deleuze and Guattari 1986)
Genres:
Journalism (Kovach and Rosenstiel 2007)
Black Power manifesto (Corrigan 2008)
Prison Literature Antonio Gramsci
Martin Luther King
Malcom X
Eldridge Cleaver
*Database and Narrative* (Manovich 2001)
Visual Culture Studies
Mitchell 2006
Wallace 2004
Nakamura 2007
Media History
Debray 1996
Gitelman 2006
Jenkins 2007
Semiotics
Benveniste 1966
de Saussure 1978
Barthes 1978
Lotman 1989
Gaps Media Production from Prison
Microscopic, Qualitative approaches
Alterity, Access, and Time.
Research Questions How does he produce artifacts?
What effects do those artifacts have?
How has he been produced as a figure?
What is his relationship to production?
What do his figure and media stand for? Archaeology of audio recordings shows
relationships between bodies in space
how the 1994 NPR decision moved his oeuvre from audio to textual dominance

Archaeology and genealogy of his writing shows
how textual body of work operates as a temporal praxis
construction of argument and persuasion through non-linear temporality

Genealogy of online discourse shows
recursive iterations of his cultural figure
how his figure takes on larger social and cultural values
how Others encode meaning Future Researchers: 1. GET THE INTERVIEWS!
2. COMBINE QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE MEASURES TO CONNECT PRODUCTION WITH AUDIENCE REACTIONS TO MEDIA.
3. EVEN IF SCALING UP TO A MACROSCOPIC FOCUS, CONTINUE TO FOCUS ON PRISON MEDIA PRODUCTION. THANK YOU! And So... 1. media interconnectedness
2. study of prison media
3. objective study of Abu-Jamal's media
4. introduction of theoretical combination
Full transcript