Category: Writing


Production Marks

My class on media archaeology has a regular assignment where students conduct a “product autopsy,” tearing down old (and hopefully inoperable) gadgets to understand their origins and supply chains. Mobile phones are a favorite example, both because of their intricacy and because few students have seen inside them. The assignment requires learning to recognize not […]


A Time of Disassembly

In light of the current moment of crisis, this piece offers a brief coda to my article, “Techniques of Assembly,” which was published in the recent “Techniques and Technologies” issue of Amodern. A Time of Disassembly  Our supply chains groan, creak, and—potentially, eventually—snap under the weight of the current crisis. They are victims of a […]

Announcements Writing

Techniques of Assembly

This article examines the techniques that constitute logistical operation, suggesting the application of the chaîne opératoire to the abstract structure of the supply chain. Building on a German media theoretical approach to “cultural techniques” and the idea of “logistical media,” it argues for assembly as an ur-mediative technique, one produced both before and beside attendant […]

Announcements Writing

Logistical Legacies of the Bauhaus

In the chapter “Telephone, Color Chart, Napkin: The “Logistical Legacies of the Bauhaus” in Laura Forlano, Molly Wright Steenson, and Mike Ananny’s Bauhaus Futures, out now with MIT Press: “Hockenberry engages with the logistical legacies of the Bauhaus and their implications for the future of remote production in artistic practice and industrial manufacturing…considering the Bauhaus […]


The Place of All Things: Shenzhen, Alibaba, and the Oriental Bazaar

This is a preprint of an article that appeared in lo Squaderno no. 51 | Logistical Territories. When Western eyes follow the snaking path of the supply chain to its distant ends, they find there surprisingly familiar things. In what should be a diverse and many-faceted site, there is a reliable regularity. It is as […]


Material Epistemologies of the (Mobile) Telephone

This is a preprint of an article that appears in the Spring 2018 issue of Anthropological Quarterly, part of the special collection on Unseen Connections: The Materiality of Cell Phones. Housed in factory dormitories in China, assembled in Mexican maquiladoras, and put to work soldering connections in Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan, are the diffuse network […]


The Social Network of Stuff

This interview originally appeared on Public Seminar. This conversation with Matthew Hockenberry [1] marks the beginning of a series of dialogues on the subject of logistics. No longer a mere subject of business management schools or an exclusive expertise of the military, logistics has become a significant presence in recent scholarship, particularly in the humanities, and is […]


The Making of “Made in.”

British Empire Marketing Board, 1927 [via]. Despite the sometimes underdetermined discourse surrounding it, there is nothing particularly new about the identification of a product with its place of production. One the earliest examples can still be found preserved in the ruins of Pompeii, on amphora inscribed with the word “Vesuvinum”—wine, from Vesuvius.1 But despite this […]

Media Writing

Stranger Phones

I have to confess to being something of a phone nerd (I am a telephone historian, after all). I love watching shows and seeing people talk, type, and text. While most of the time these phones are of the mobile variety, period pieces let us see a telephonic landscape that doesn’t really exist anymore.   Stranger […]