The Riff-Along: arching towards experimental, collaborative, delight-based scholarship

Authors: Angela Sakrison*, Arizona State University, Garrett Laroy Johnson, Arizona State University
Topics: Geographic Thought, Cultural Geography, Media and Communication
Keywords: experimental scholarship, pleasure activism, convocation, collaboration, cinema
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

What are the social forms appropriate to pandemics, and what types of knowledge production practices might be protocoled in the void of zoomspace? This paper reflects on an online event format we've been experimenting with where a team of multidisciplinary scholars descend upon terrible movies and take them stupidly serious in an effort to engender new forms of collaborative scholarship. We focus on films that are "bad" in an exercise in resisting judgement, and use them as raw material for impromptu media and cultural analysis. Like Isabelle Stenger’s convocation, The Riff offers a space to build thoughts together as an ensemble as we riff-along, riff-with, riff-against, riff-towards, and riff-beyond movies with insights we could not build alone. In its playful and creative exterior, we propose that the riff-along is not only a welcoming and generative mode of social knowledge production, but perhaps a portal into the process of iteration itself. We adopt the descriptor "riff-raff"--from the medieval term for those who rifle through dead bodies, gathering scraps, using all they can. In reclaiming this term we reclaim the right to rifle-through. As the tolls of pandemic and racial injustice mount around us, we seek not to be buried in a body dump, but to dig through, dig out, and build a tactic of resistance stemming from the riff's ability to resonate with difference, like a harmonic wavelength along with the film. Inspired by adrienne marie brown’s pleasure activism, we seek not to drown out but to joyously amplify ambiguous harmonies.

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