This talk, based on Lisa Parks’ forthcoming book, Rethinking Media Coverage: Vertical Mediation and the War on Terror, will explore how media technologies and cultures have been organized to reassert US vertical hegemony after 9/11. Vertical hegemony involves efforts to maneuver through, activate technologies within, occupy, or control the vast stretch of space between the earth’s surface and the outer limits of orbit as well as the kinds of activities that can occur there. The struggle for vertical hegemony is undergirded by the assumption that controlling the air, spectrum, and orbit is tantamount to controlling life on earth. Vertical hegemony cannot simply be achieved “out there” in open skies. To register or take effect, it must be communicated though and materialized as part of culture on earth. This book conceptualizes these processes of communication and materialization as vertical mediations – as audiovisual forms that enact, materialize, or infer conditions or qualities of the vertical field. The talk will present material from chapters that address US commandeering of the spectrum and airwaves, transformation of airport security protocols, commercialization of geospatial intelligence, and deployment of drones for surveillance and targeted killings.

Lisa Parks is a global media scholar whose research focuses on three areas: satellite technologies and media cultures; critical studies of media infrastructures; and media, militarization and surveillance. She is Principal Investigator for MIT’s Global Media Technologies and Cultures Lab. Parks is the author of Cultures in Orbit: Satellites and the Televisual (Duke UP, 2005), Coverage: Vertical Mediation and the War on Terror(Routledge, forthcoming), and Mixed Signals: Media Infrastructures and Cultural Geographies (in progress). She is co-editor of: Life in the Age of Drones (Duke UP, forthcoming 2017), Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructures (U of Illinois, 2015), Down to Earth: Satellite Technologies, Industries and Cultures (Rutgers UP, 2012), Undead TV (Duke UP, 2007), and Planet TV: A Global Television Reader (NYU, 2003). Parks has held visiting appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin, McGill University, University of Southern California, and the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a PI on major research grants from the National Science Foundation and the US State Department, supporting research in Mongolia, Turkey, and Zambia. She is committed to exploring how greater understanding of media systems can inform and assist citizens, scholars and policymakers in the US and abroad to advance campaigns for technological literacy, creative expression, social justice, and human rights. Before joining the CMS/W faculty, Parks was Professor and former Department Chair of Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara, where she also served as Director of the Center for Information Technology and Society.


MIT Open Documentary Lab E15-318

20 Ames Street 3rd Floor, Cambridge