Assembly Codes

Edited by Matthew Hockenberry, Nicole Starosielski, and Susan Zieger; with contributions from Fred Moten, Ebony Coletu, Shannon Mattern, Liam Young, Ned Rossiter, Michael Palm, Kay Dickinson, Tung-Hui Hu, John Durham Peters, and Stefano Harney.

Assembly Codes

Assembly Codes: The Logistics of Media (Duke University Press, 2021).

The contributors to Assembly Codes examine how media and logistics set the conditions for the circulation of information and culture. They document how logistics—the techniques of organizing and coordinating the movement of materials, bodies, and information—has substantially impacted the production, distribution, and consumption of media. At the same time, physical media, such as paperwork, along with media technologies ranging from phone systems to software are central to the operation of logistics. The contributors interrogate topics ranging from the logistics of film production and the construction of internet infrastructure to the environmental impact of the creation, distribution, and sale of vinyl records. They also reveal how logistical technologies have generated new aesthetic and performative practices. In charting the specific points of contact, dependence, and friction between media and logistics, Assembly Codes demonstrates that media and logistics are co-constitutive and that one cannot be understood apart from the other.

Read the introduction: “The Logistics of Media.”


“Extending vital histories of transportation and communication, this book explores mediation’s long dance with logistics. Media are not static: they form via the coordinated movement of materials, the calculating logics of supply chains, and the dynamic activities of networks. Assembly Codes gathers top thinkers who unfurl new paths for understanding media and logistics and boldly confront issues of difference, geopolitics, and planetary resources in the process.”

Lisa Parks, Distinguished Professor of Film & Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

“In this exciting volume, leading and innovative scholars outline how logistics brings about new ways of seeing, imagining, and engaging the world as well as the ways in which logistics and media technologies underpin each other. Unparalleled in its conceptual richness and empirical diversity, Assembly Codes makes a major contribution to scholarly debates about logistics and will shape research to come.”

Deborah Cowen, author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade

“Assembly Codes addresses a remarkably broad range of logistical and media technologies, with global colonialism and capitalist exploitation at the heart of much of its inquiry. . . . AssemblyCodes presents a host of rich possibilities for interdisciplinary conversation around media, logistics, governance, and the afterlives of data and information that will support vibrant ongoing inquiry.”

Hannah Hopkins, E3W Review of Books

“Assembly Codes’s topically diverse but thematically cohesive contents are broadly accessible and relevant to library, archives, and information workers. Essays range from philosophical to nuts-and-bolts and span analyses rooted in performance studies, media theory, African Studies, and more.”

Lynne Stahl, College & Research Libraries

“All of us are intimately bound to the histories, processes, and oppressions described in Assembly Codes, and it is to the editors’ and authors’ extreme credit that they managed to explore the intricacies of such a fact while maintaining and promoting hope for a better tomorrow.”

Jennessa Hester, H-Sci-Med-Tech, H-Net Reviews