Monthly Archives: March 2012

Regimes of Invisibility

I was forwarded a CFP for a conference (American Anthropological Association) called ‘regimes of invisibility.’┬áNaturally I almost fell off my chair since it’s been a hard slog to find a venue for invisibility. More so, I was floored by the fact that Bruno Latour┬áis thinking about invisibility, too. While he is not universally loved, he is prolific and has a range of thinking on the types of subjects to which this concept makes a lot of sense.

He uses an argument similar to the one I made about the veil of the visual as emerging from the context of invisibility. Helpfully, his work situates the notion of invisibility in a mechanistic construct – how it comes to life – within the term ‘regimes of invisibility.’ That notion of regimes is fascinating and represents a very helpful metaphorical tools for me to harness some of the as yet loose strands of my thinking.

Right now I’m persuaded by work on surveillance societies and also, in a much different way, by work on beauty, fashion, and fame. Each is its own regime of invisibility with very interesting overlaps though similar but radically different implications.

My thinking now is on cultures of surveillance and everyday acts of intra-familial spying as a way in which to condone a culture of more pernicious extra-subjective (often market) surveillance and ‘massaging conformity.’ In terms of fashion, beauty, and fame, thinking about them as regimes of invisibility helps solidify my belief that diversity isn’t a matter of visual presence within the same order or regime of invisibility that made diversity an absence in the first place. That regime, I think, is missing a paradigm of diversity of creativity and innovation for sake of a band aid of representation.

Regimes, fantastic way to think about it!