The Potential of Leaks: Mediation, Materiality and Incontinent Domains
Kushinski, Alysse Verona
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Leaks appear within and in between disciplines. While the vernacular implications of leaking tend to connote either the release of texts or, in a more literal sense, the escape of a fluid, the leak also embodies more poetic tendencies: rupture, release, and disclosure. Through the contours of mediation, materiality, and politics this dissertation traces the notion of the leak as both material and figurative actor. The leak is a difficult subject to account forit eludes a specific discipline, its meaning is fluid, and its significance, always circumstantial, ranges from the entirely banal to matters of life and death. Considering the prevalence of leakiness in late modernity, I assert that the leak is a dynamic agent that allows us to trace the ways that actors are entangled. To these ends, I explore several instantiations of leaking in the realms of media, ecology, and politics to draw connections between seemingly disparate subjects. Despite leaks threatening consequences, they always mark a change, a transformation, a revelation. The leak becomes a means through which we can challenge ourselves to reconsider the (non)functionality of boundariesan opening through which new possibilities occur, and imposed divisions are contested. However, the leak operates simultaneously as opportunity and threatit is always a virtual agent, at once stagnant and free flowing. Belying its figurative possibilities, the materiality of the leak is central to this project. Material in both philosophical and Marxist senses, leaking imbricates matter and actors in constellations of relations that bear potential in helping us comprehend a wide range of concerns. It is to these ends that I argue leaks provide both effective and affective means for performing interdisciplinarity. This project insists that whether they take form as data, images, crude oil, bodily fluids, or slips of the tongue, leaks share the same origin in logics of containment. In interrogating these logics of containment, I assert the potential in letting leak, a mode through which difference is not collapsed, but rather no longer policed.