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Technologies of SpeculationThe Limits of Knowledge in a Data-Driven Society$
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Sun-ha Hong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479860234

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479860234.001.0001

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Recessive Objects

Recessive Objects

(p.53) 3 Recessive Objects
Technologies of Speculation

Sun-ha Hong

NYU Press

The Snowden files are recessive objects: things that promise to extend our knowability but, in doing so, catalyze speculation and doubt. Drawing on media phenomenology, this chapter connects this recessivity to the surveillance systems themselves and the war on terror. The effort to predict the “lone wolf” terrorist, from the Boston bomber to the Las Vegas shooter, paradoxically becomes a site for smuggling in old racial prejudices about the monstrous Other. The convenient myth of “pure” data here encounters the far older and troubling project of national, territorial, and racial purity.

Keywords:   Lone wolf, Media phenomenology, Purity, Surveillance, War on terror

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