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Allen Feldman is an anthropologist and professor. He is Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at the New York University (NYU) Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He has taught at Central European University in Budapest, the Institute of Humanities Studies in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU. He received a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology at New School for Social Research, where he also received his M.A. and B.A.
His research and teaching interests include visual culture and violence, the political anthropology of the human body and the senses, performance studies, state cultures, and the political archaeology of media and technology. His second book, Formations of Violence: The Narrative of the Body and Political Terror in Northern Ireland,' was published by the [University of Chicago Press] in 1991. It is a widely acclaimed ethnography and oral history of embodied violence focused on the torture and prison protests of Republican prisoners. In his third book "Archives of the Insensible: of War, Photopolitics and Dead Memory" [University of Chicago Press 2015], Feldman argues that contemporary sovereign power mobilizes asymmetric, clandestine, and ultimately unending war as a will to truth. Whether responding to the fantasy of weapons of mass destruction or an existential threat to civilization, Western political sovereignty seeks to align justice, humanitarian right, and democracy with technocratic violence and visual dominance. Connecting Guantánamo tribunals to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, American counterfeit killings in Afghanistan to the Baader-Meinhof paintings of Gerhard Richter, and the video erasure of Rodney King to lynching photography and political animality, among other scenes of terror, Feldman contests sovereignty’s claims to transcendental right —whether humanitarian, neoliberal, or democratic—by showing how dogmatic truth is crafted and terror indemnified by the prosecutorial media and materiality of war. Excavating a scenography of trials—formal or covert, orchestrated or improvised, criminalizing or criminal—Feldman shows how the will to truth disappears into the very violence it interrogates. He maps the sensory inscriptions and erasures of war, highlighting war as a media that severs factuality from actuality to render violence just. He proposes that war promotes an anesthesiology that interdicts the witness of a sensory and affective commons that has the capacity to speak truth to war. Feldman uses layered deconstructive description to decelerate the ballistical tempo of war to salvage the embodied actualities and material histories that war reduces to the ashes of collateral damage, the automatism of drones, and the opacities of black sites. Feldman articulates critical visual theory, political philosophy, anthropology, and media archeology through a dissection of emerging forms of sovereignty and state power that war now makes possible.