Event, Podcast, VideoAugust 30 2021

Moving Through Molasses: On Intellectual Labor, Productivity, and Belonging

Meredith D. Clark & Shaka McGlotten

Databite No. 146

In this conversation, 2020-2021 Faculty Fellows Meredith D. Clark and Shaka McGlotten reflect on their experience at Data & Society during a global pandemic. “Moving Through Molasses” invokes the challenges of adapting to the existential and emotional fatigue of incessant telepresence interfaces, performative intellectual labor, and the need to balance a professional career amidst ongoing collapse.

Their conversation explores how Queer and Black scholars can move through institutions without forsaking authenticity. They make a case for productivity refusal as a generative tactic for self-preservation. Molasses is a medicine; a decelerator; a metaphor for the slow, somatic surrender our bodies need. Molasses also alludes to the thick absurdity of online discourse with its noxious disinformation feeds and the inevitable co-optation of Black vernacular content creation. Despite these traps, discuss the speakers, one can indeed cultivate remote community in platform-mediated digital spaces. 


00:00:00 – 00:10:04

Navigating the D&S Fellows Program during the pandemic.

00:10:04 – 00:15:30

On bodies, refusal, and wellness.

00:10:04 – 00:15:30

Letting go: measuring work and metrics of success.

00:26:27 – 36:24:15

Finding belonging in digital spaces \ digital publics & discourse tea.

36:24:15 – 45:33:12

So-called “cancel culture”, accountability, and absurdity.

45:33:12 – 50:51:11

The highs and lows of being a (public) intellectual.

About the Speakers

Meredith D. Clark, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Media Studies department at the University of Virginia. Her professional journalism background informs her primary research on the relationships between Black communities and news media in social media spaces. Her secondary research in critical journalism studies addresses questions of systemic racism in U.S. news media, with a focus on culture and processes in print and digital newsrooms. Her current work contextualizes Black Americans’ use of Twitter to create digital counter-narratives to mainstream news coverage of Black lived experiences as contemporary forms of resistance.

Shaka McGlotten is Professor of Media Studies and Anthropology at Purchase College-SUNY, where they also serve as Chair of the Gender Studies and Global Black Studies Programs. Their work stages encounters between Black study, queer theory, media, and art. Their research focuses on networked intimacies and messy computational entanglements as they interface with QTPOC lifeworlds.


DRAG THEM: A brief etymology of so-called “cancel culture” – Meredith D. Clark, Communication for the Public, Sage Public, 2020, Vol. 5(3-4) 88–92 https://doi.org/10.1177/2057047320961562 

McGlotten, Shaka. Virtual Intimacies: Media, Affect, and Queer Sociality. State University of New York Press, 2013. http://www.sunypress.edu/p-5745-virtual-intimacies.aspx

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Credits & Acknowledgements

Produced by Rigoberto Lara Guzmán. 

With editorial support from Sam Hinds, Sareeta Amrute, and Veronica Eghdami. 

Thank you to Meredith D. Clark and Shaka McGlotten, respectively.