"Prohibited Items": Lists, Speech, Disturbances and the Politics of Control

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Zulu, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Organizers: Katherine Chandler
Chairs: Katherine Chandler


This panel takes as its starting point a list of "prohibited items" circulated by the University of California Police Department, Berkeley for a speaking event by former Breitbart News editor, Benjamin Shapiro. Security for the talk reportedly cost over $600,000 and became a pillar of the new University Chancellor's commitment to "free speech." Among the "prohibited items" were "explosive devices, incendiary devices, weapons, drones" as well as "backpacks, bags, umbrellas, balloons, and wagons." The list organizes a heterogeneous set of items to produce a security zone defined at once by threat and anticipated damage, the material counterpart of the "free speech" ostensibly protected. Given the enormous costs, rearrangement of public university funds and infrastructure used to police such an event, we work against the dichotomy between objects and speech to question how modes of civic engagement are currently being negotiated.

We engage the material forms in the list through a series of performative and experimental approaches. These practices explore how state power is prefigured in everyday items, highlighting the "explosive" potential of almost any material. How do filiations of objects constitute an incitement to violence that must be preempted and policed? What is "speech," in this context, and why is it protected? The four panelists will explore approaches to these questions through performance of list reading, "Advisory Message Sept 14 Shapiro Event - Prohibited Items;" an extended list of latent explosives - including poop, flour and sugar - and their incendiary potential; a list of "violent protest tactics" released by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center; and a surrealist game of rhetoric to study what if "speech" and "item" were reversed?


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Shiloh Krupar Georgetown University 20
Panelist Javier Arbona UC Davis 20
Panelist Andrea Miller University of California - Davis 20
Panelist Katherine Chandler Georgetown University 20
Discussant Katherine Chandler Georgetown University 20

To access contact information login