Virtuality in Physical Space: “Ingress” as Augmented Reality

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of my ANTH 370: Space and Place requirements in Fall 2016.

Ingress is a digital application game for mobile devices. The app uses the user’s GPS and mobile data information to place the player in an augmented reality map (Fig. 1, Fig. 4). The purpose of the game is to join one of two factions, and to capture cultural artifacts in the landscape. These artifacts include murals, statues, art installations, and major public buildings. The way in which a player “captures” an artifact is through the hacking and attacking of the defenses of a portal which has been placed in the game near where the artifact exists in unaugmented reality. Looking at a specific portal within Ingress—that of Macewan University Residence—I’ve worked to identify not only how the physical space within which Ingress exists effects players and non-players, but also how the physical and virtual spaces differ.

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Despite a number of gathering spaces located in the residence lobby, the design is overwhelmingly sociofugal. The inclusion of a moat separates people on the tables from the people on the couches from the people playing ping-pong from the people playing pool. Despite this, it is often a center of activity within the residence, as one or more of these spaces is almost always in use. There are large windows along quadrants C and D which look out to a small courtyard with trees and bushes. Between each of these windows there is a false potted tree. While there is extensive construction of the new Centre for the Arts and Culture building visible from the main doors, from the viewpoint of the C and D windows this construction is masked by the trees. This brings the nature of the outside in. The Residence building was designed with the intent of having a low carbon footprint, and the attempts made to bring nature into the space reflect that.

The sociofugal design of the Residence lobby is contrasted by the virtual design of Ingress. As a virtual space, Ingress is sociopedal in its design and requires a sense of cultura in order to be effectively navigated (Richardson 2003, 85-86). There are many opportunities to chat with other players through a built-in chat function, and real-time portal data is provided in the chat stream. Due to the player leveling functions in the game, it often takes groups of 2 or more to completely deplete enemy defense reserves on a high-level portal. As well, the primary method by which points may be earned for a faction is through linking of several portals together, an activity which is difficult to undertake alone (Ingress 2015). Though every portal will have images taken by players attached to the portal data (Fig. 2), due to the digital nature of the app Ingress excludes nature by design. Within the virtual space of Ingress there is a single point of focus, which is the portal. Within the physical space of residence this portal exists at the crux of the four quadrants. Due to the area of influence players inhabit within the game this portal is accessible from outside of residence, as well as in all spaces vertical to the portal. While the Ingress community is friendly overall, during the time allocated for research there was little activity, save for a few users talking about where they were planning to go for the day.

Within the physical space of Residence there are three areas which are the focus of attention, listed indexically: The main entryway, the front desk (which is visible immediately upon entrance), and a pool table. While the pool table is not immediately visible to those who enter the space, it exists as primary hubs of activity within the space. This is likely due to the fact that residents must pass by the table in order to travel to and from their rooms on the West side of the building. The most prominent interaction within the physical space which I was able to observe was that of the people at the pool table. As a small group of five people, I assumed from previous experience that passers-by would stop to join the game. This was not the case, despite the fact that the majority of foot traffic through the physical space at the time in question passed by the pool table. Despite this, the interaction amongst the pool players was familiar and friendly. This contrasted the majority of the traffic in the lobby who appeared to be passive, and only coming through the space in order to leave through the main entryway.

The interactions between the pool players mirrors that of the interactions within Ingress. While there was no activity to the portal at the time in question, there were several people talking about how they were to be spending their day (Fig 3). Though it was a public interaction, in that all players within the City were able to view the interaction, the conversation seemed private enough that no players joined the conversation past the original few.

The quadrant spaces of the lobby exist as expressions of material culture, as in each area there is evidence to their use (marks on the walls, implementation of equipment next to the pool table, etc). Other examples of material culture include posters advertising programs within the residence, and pamphlets available at the front desk. The space overarchingly s>mells of garbage (this is a smell I’ve become accustomed to and am no longer truly aware of). There is also a café which occasionally gives wafts of soup or cooking meats. The lighting specifically is interesting. There is overhead tunnel lighting from the entrance to the front desk, and again from the front desk to the elevator bays. This creates a sense of purpose for those entering residence to come to the front desk, or to return to their rooms. Within Ingress, the whole of the residence lobby exists as a piece of material culture through the existence of a portal. There are several challenge maps which may be undertaken, wherein a player is guided along a path of portals with the intent of hacking each portal along the way. The Macewan Residence portal acts as a starting point for at least three of these maps. As Ingress is available only on mobile devices there is a component of difficulty in discerning who is influencing the portal and who is not.

Residence exists as a primarily private space. The lobby exists both privately and publicly, depending on the time with which it is being accessed. Weekdays, from 7am-5pm, it exists publicly. At any other time it exists privately through the implementation of a “locked door” policy wherein residents and hotel guests must use their passcards to gain access to the lobby. The front desk exists as specifically private space. There exist private offices behind the front desk, and each of the elevator bays and room hallways require a passcard in order to gain access at all times. Ingress mirrors this, somewhat, in that people who do not have a player account are not able to access the full app. Though it is significantly more difficult to gain access to residence, this is not to say that access to the portal is allowed to all persons within the physical space of Residence. Additionally, although the portal is accessible from outside of the lobby, it is not accessible from all areas of Residence due to area of influence players exhibit (Fig. 1).

As an employee of residence I expected to be more aware of the actual number of people moving through the lobby than I was. The fact that there were in excess of 30 exits from residence in the span of only an hour was shocking to me. When not paying full attention to the movings of people within the space, it definitely feels like there is less movement than there is. Doing my quantitative analysis during a Saturday morning shift (one of the slowest shifts of the week) was beneficial as it gave me the opportunity to take more detailed notes on what, comparatively, little movement there was. I would be interested to see the amount and types of movement there is during a weekday morning shift, however it realistically gets too busy for me to take accurate notes while on shift, and the only time I’m not on shift during weekdays is when I’m in class so the opportunity just isn’t there.

As a relatively new player of Ingress I don’t necessarily have a fully fleshed out concept of what would be “normal” activity for the time period I chose. Having said this, I was somewhat surprised to see no activity to the portal at all. The Ingress community is very active in Edmonton, and through the app one is able to see all activity of all portals within a specific area (Fig. 3). Usually late nights and early mornings are the most active times of the day, but on my research day this was not the case. In the future I would be interested in seeing if there is a way to quantify the Ingress portal data through the app, if not to see the activity of a specific portal but of a specific area (ex. neighborhood, city, etc). This data is available in real-time, but finding a way to collect it over a period of time for reference later would be more useful.

Residence acts as a transitory space. This is true not only of the lobby physically, but also in that many who live in residence use the space as an in-between their parent’s home and their first apartment. This is mirrored by Ingress in the way that portals never stay captured by a single faction for too long. This is not to say that the two spaces are identical, as while the physical space is sociofugal in design, Ingress requires cultura.The juxtaposition of the two spaces together shows differing values within the differing communities. Where residence tries to get one out of the community (toward a degree, assumedly), Ingress pulls one in.


“Ingress.” Ingress Wiki. Accessed October 15, 2015. <;.

Richardson, Miles. “Being-in-the-Market Versus Being-in-the-Plaza: Material Culture and the Construction of Social Reality in Spanish America.” In The Anthropology of Space and Place, edited by Setha M. Low and Denise Lawrence-Zúñiga, 74-91. Blackwell Publishing, 2003.


QGCon 2018 Application

Decided to make my QGCon 2018 application public because conference apps always stress me out and I’m always curious about how other people put theirs together so I figured I should be demonstrative of the Academia I Wanna See.


Brieal is a fourth-year undergraduate honours student in the department of anthropology at Macewan University in Edmonton, Alberta. They’re interested in far too many things. Primarily, however, they’re interested in linguistic anthropology and language revitalization, archaeogaming and the people who do it, literary theory and its applications in things that aren’t English papers, and how these disparate ideas actually all make sense together (but only if you squint a bit, tilt your head to the side, and whisper “digital humanities” over and over). When they aren’t yelling their way through their degree they spending time with their shiba inu named Sushi and naps.


Session Title:

Ontologies of Practice: A Proto-Ontology of Queer Archaeogaming

Session Abstract:

To track the flow of information within archaeogaming I have created a proto-ontology of archaeogaming as it may be perceived through a queer interdisciplinary lens. This project works to identify potential sticking points and holes within the current practice of archaeogaming by placing practices and methodologies within the context of the potentials within queer archaeogaming. To facilitate this, I have taken terms from the bibliographies of several texts and created a series of connections between these terms and an edited Canadian Archaeological Association ethics statement. Additionally, I have taken terms from the instructional manual of an early Pokemon game to demonstrate one of the ways in which this ontology may be put into practice. The method for this project was originally designed as a mind-mapping exercise, however as it progressed it slowly became closer to an ontology in-practice. This is to be considered as a positive change, as in the form of a [proto-]ontology it may be better understood not only by people working within the archaeogaming community, but also potentially in the future by archaeogaming AIs.

This panel will consist of a short (approximately 15-20 minutes) explanation of what archaeogaming is and where this research fits into present archaeogaming practice, and is to be followed by a demonstration of archaeogaming-as-method by using the ontology to map how different resources may be labeled as queer archaeogaming (3 examples, approximately 10 minutes each).

The map described in the above abstract may be found at:

fuckin whoops: 5 texts that are influencing my writing in 2018

I’m presenting these in no particular order, as it’s difficult for me to rationalize a hierarchical system to describe formativity.  This is by no means a complete list, and I provide by no means a complete explanation/summary for each text. The thing that started this entire post is that I really can’t include all of this information into a single media response (half of which I already turned into a Twessay omfg) for ANTH 497, and I needed to figure out a way to frame information in a way which would be useful for said project without going over the 1000-word limit. Thus as opposed to fully historicizing and explaining my thoughts and responses to these readings I’m instead wanting to provide a method of brevity for some of my papers (but the one in particular) coming up this semester.

Basically: I needed to figure out a way to cite myself.

Self portrait of the blogger.

Pic unrelated, mostly.

Note: I use the term “ugly feelings” more than once to describe my own negative affects upon experiencing texts. This is a term that I know is from one of these readings, but for the life of me I can’t recall which one. Whoops!

On to the listicle:

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. 2006. Touching feeling: affect, pedagogy, performativity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

I first read Eve Kosofky Sedgwick’s Touching Feeling around this time last year, and found the experience to be especially formative not only with respect to the way/s in which I choose to approach research but also the way/s in which I am capable of said approach. In “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, or, You’re So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay is About You” Sedgwick delineates (or, rather, attempts to delineate–the distinction is less a binary opposition and more a wibbly wobbly readerly eagerly) between paranoid and reparative methods of reading. Where the paranoid is “anticipatory […] reflexive and mimetic […] a strong theory […] a theory of negative affects […]” and that which “places its faith in exposure” (130) the reparative is that which allows one “to use one’s own resources to assemble or ‘repair’ the murderous part-objects into something like a whole” (128). As a queer and as someone who often experiences difficult or ugly feelings about texts the concept of the reparative reading is especially poignant for me as it offers the opportunity to take those negative affects and turn them into something positive (or, at the very least, into something more whole than shame). This is especially important and poignant to me as not only a queer reader but also a person who tends to find enjoyment in the reading of negative affects.

Allan, Jonathan A. 2016. Reading from Behind A Cultural Analysis of the Anus. The Exquisite Corpse. Regina: University of Regina.

I’m still in the process of reading this one, but I think it’s definitely going to remain influential over time. I struggle with being willing or able to express my love and enjoyment of texts which contain materials other people may find offensive or distasteful (ex. body horror), and more relevantly I struggle to put into words why I find enjoyment in some texts that others are unable or unwilling to. Even in explaining things in this way, however, I feel that I have fallen into a paranoid trap: “[t]he very idea of the reparative reading renders critics paranoid, anxious, worried. We apologize for it before we have even begun to do it” (16). Building on Sedgwick’s reparative reading Reading From Behind has thus far been a mix of emotions, but overall skewing to comfort. There is a comfort in knowing that there is a method by which my ugly feelings may be transformed. In the chapter “Spanking Colonialism” Allan writes that “[c]lose reading is a kind of erotic engagement with literary and visual texts that enables us to move slowly through the density of words or images” (117), and while I’m speeding through this first read-through of Reading From Behind I’m looking forward to sitting on my future responses as long as possible.

Fischer, Hal. 2015. Gay Semiotics: a photographic study of visual coding among homosexual men. Los Angeles, California: Cherry and Martin.

Gay Semiotics has been a foundational reading for me with respect to understanding semiotic coding as it relates to prestige and safety. While visual information is not capital-L-Language it still provides so much contextual information which is/may be important to the understanding of a given text. As semiotics plays so well with understanding the ways in which visual information is expressedly intertextual and intermedial Gay Semiotics provides so much information on the understanding of archetypal images and the ways in which these images may be used to parse further information from a specific set of visual information which we may not elsewise have done. While I think that most texts on semiotics fulfill the use-need I’m describing here because so many of my ugly feelings come from a place of seeing queer images where others may not choosing an explicitly queer (or, in this case, gay) text is important to me.

Brice, Mattie. 2017. “Play and Be Real about It: What Games Could Learn from Kink.” Essay. In Queer Game Studies, edited by Bonnie Ruberg and Adrienne Shaw, 77–82. Minneapolis, Minesotta: University of Minesotta Press.

The idea that kink could be used as a theoretical framing device literally never occurred to me prior to reading this, despite the fact that it makes so much sense. Queer Game Studies was a huge part of my ANTH 498 final study, and I ended up spending a lot of time thinking about the ways in which my own theory/praxis are influenced by kink and BDSM (heads up: it’s a lot of ways). Brice explains it this way: “Kink isn’t just a topical analogy […] it’s a good framework for challenging these contextless play experiences by reimagining the positions of the designer, player, and play, and what those positions mean” (78). In considering this through a lens of that reparative reading I’m (obviously) such a fan of this has opened up the possibilities for dealing with ugly thoughts and ugly responses I have to texts–by coming to information reparatively and spatially I’m better able to negate the shame and humiliation that I often experience as a reader because I am the reader. It’s a small consideration, but all too important, that “WE ARE ALWAYS PLAYING. WE ARE ALWAYS IN CONTEXTS. CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING” (79). By considering our own positionality to a text we are better able to address our own values and ideologies as they influence our understanding/s.

Barthes, Roland. 1975. The Pleasure of the Text. Translated by Richard Miller. New York, New York: Hill and Wang.

While I tried to keep order out of this list as much as possible, it really is important to be ending with this quote: “No ‘thesis’ on the pleasure of the text is possible; barely an inspection (an introspection) that falls short” (34).

I hope this post ends up being useful to me moving forward, and I do recommend (perhaps obviously) that you check out each of these texts on your own time! Also it really isn’t lost on me that this list is incredibly white and incredibly male, so if you have any recommendations for texts you like that you think may help rectify that let me know!

Let me know your own reactions either here or on Twitter if you get a chance! I’m always curious about others’ perspectives!

#ANTH421 w/ @sarahshulist: Considering the situated production of identity construction in individual Albertan injured workers

The following is a project summary for my final research project for #ANTH421: Language and Power at Macewan University with Dr. Sarah Shulist (@sarahshulist) during the Fall 2017 term.


What were my methods?

In short: interview and cry.

In less-short: Knowing both of the people I would be interviewing (Anthony Hughes–herein “my dad,”–and Ralph Teed) I knew to only prepare 1 question per person (“Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”) as both my dad and Ralph tend to be very talkative. I also made sure to include both interviewees in the writing of the consent form, and it was decided that all parts of the interview and interview process would be made available for public access, save the consent form proper which would only be provided to my class professor/project supervisor Dr. Sarah Shulist.

In addition, as I knew going into the interview process that one of the primary concerns for both interviewees was lack of access to information I decided to print off all of the sources I used for this analysis (less the two bell hooks books, which I will be purchasing for them in January 2018) and provided a copy to my dad with the understanding that said sources would be made available to both Ralph Teed and Peter Samardzija at request. This is in following with individual fair-use laws, and I appreciate the contributions each author has provided to both my knowledge and the knowledges of my dad, Ralph, and Peter. I did not include citations in-text as I wanted to practice a reflexive close-reading method on the interview (shout-out to my English lit minor), and have instead provided a list of sources which have influenced my methods or understandings of the interview and project overall at the end of this post.

How did I come up with this project?

He let me know that he actually prefers the term contentious injured worker, which I found shocking because it wasn’t a term I recalled him using before.

I originally came up with the idea for this project while in the van with my dad on the way to school one day in October 2017. I remembered talking about identity formation in ANTH 421, and was telling him about how I usually identify him as an activist or lobbyist depending on the situation. He let me know that he actually prefers the term contentious injured worker, which I found shocking because it wasn’t a term I recalled him using before. As the child of an injured worker I am intimately aware of the effects of the labour my dad has put into his dealings with the Alberta Worker’s Compensation Board (herein “WCB”), and while the title of contentious injured worker is not something I was shocked by in itself I did find it shocking that it wasn’t something I had considered in the past. To me this term makes perfect sense considering the relationship between my dad and the WCB. Thus in designing my project I didn’t want to focus on the how my father had come into the title for himself, but rather why he has continued to use it for the past 20-odd years.

In designing the project I didn’t want to focus solely on my dad’s experiences, as I know his history in inextricably wrapped with the histories and narratives of so many others (currently named “The Crew”–a group of people sharing similar histories of trauma related to their dealings with the WCB). With that in mind I decided to also approach Ralph through my dad to also be interviewed. Ralph is someone who has been a presence in my life on a regular basis for a significant portion of my life, and I am a intimately aware of his history with my dad if not with the WCB.

I did not ask to speak to Peter Samardzija, as I knew I would not have the time nor opportunity to speak to him at the same time as my dad and Ralph, and due to the radical openness of the interview I felt that interviewing Peter separately would hinder my understanding of the information provided. That said I knew that my dad was intimately aware of Peter’s history and that both my dad and Ralph were close friends with Peter and would speak to their understandings of his experiences. Given the opportunity to continue work on this project I would dedicate the time and space to interview Peter in tandem with my dad and Ralph.

Although Peter was not present in-person his presence was felt in spirit, and I’d like to take this opportunity to again thank my dad, Ralph, and Peter for their contributions to my schooling and understanding of their intertwining life narratives.

Interview Summary:

As the interview proper happened over a period of several hours I have decided to provide a short summary in lieu of analysis (“Beyond The Scope” and all that). Instead, I recommend readers of this blog post either listen to the entire interview or pick a random time code and pay specific attention to the intonation of the speakers. Moreso than any other factor I found that the intonation of both my dad and Ralph were the greatest indicators of both the choice of contentious and former as identificatory prefixes.

“Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”

In asking the question I did (reminder: “Why do you call yourself what you do when people ask what it is you do for a living?”) my dad responded that he calls himself a contentious injured worker due to his long and complex history of medical malpractice and quasi-judicial injustices. He also provided a short recounting of both his medical narrative and judicial narrative with respect to the WCB as justification of this title choice. The specifier of contentious in front of the title of injured worker speaks to these narratives, as even just the interview time can attest to. In taking the time he did to answer my question he showed that the anthropological maxim of “It’s More Complicated Than That” is alive and well in the world of personal identification. At a base level he feels that there is nowhere else to go, but in the words of Ralph “there’s a reason we’re here” which has led my dad to also begin using the term advocate to describe himself.

Prior to the interview it was my understanding that Ralph used the term activist to describe himself, and I was legitimately shocked to learn that he now refers to himself as a former activist. My memories of Ralph include (but are certainly not limited to) tent villages, chaining himself to doors, and going to the Alberta Legislator Building with protest signs. Ralph considers himself to be an action-oriented idealist (something I feel a kinship to), yet he feels that his current positionality within The Crew as more of a supporter than a doer has resulted in the loss of his activist status. This is reflected much as it was with my dad in that Ralph provided personal, medical, and judicial narratives in order to justify his title choice.

Overall there was a sense that there is something larger than themselves which is deciding the language they have access to (as in a structured structure–not necessarily a deity), and influencing their language choices. This is something I obviously agree with, and given the opportunity I would delve deeper into this specific aspect of the interview. Unfortunately due to course time constraints this type of analysis is beyond the scope of this blog post.

How has this project affected me and my knowledges?

I think the thing I appreciated most about having this opportunity was being able to learn more about the history of The Crew’s history both in relation to and independently of one another. The intertwining and interrelational aspects of not only their medical narratives, but also their interpersonal narratives was something I had some idea of prior to the interview however it was [literally I’m lost for words as I’m writing this, but] very powerful to consider in such a short amount of time. It’s one thing to experience something over a period of years, and entirely another to experience it over a period of hours. I found this especially poignant in considering the current legal landscape of The Crew’s lives with respect to the military police. As a child I witnessed a fair amount of legal work being done around the house but having had a break as an adult the uptick over the past year or so with respect to the involvement of the military police has been jarring, and even moreso with respect to the interview time.

The labour that’s involved in “””just”” printing is quite high, especially considering the embodiment of movement which is involved.”

Oddly enough in printing the articles I gained a greater respect for the labour that my dad does. Using an Epson home printer is not something I’m used to doing, as I do the majority of my printing at the Macewan University library where there are quick-printing industrial printers. The labour that’s involved in “””just”” printing is quite high, especially considering the embodiment of movement which is involved. As someone with chronic pain the act of standing next to the printer and flipping pages flared up my pain, and I found myself needing to do regular stretches in even the half-hour or so I spent printing. Considering this in comparison to the type of printing my dad does (sometimes for days at a time, using multiple printers at a time) I can only begin to imagine the effect of that movement on his body, and it adds to my understanding of his use of the “contentious” prefix.

Working with people who I’ve either known my entire life (my dad), and people I’ve known for the majority or near-majority of my life (Ralph and Peter) has been an experience that even a month away from the interview I’m still struggling to put into words. While there was so much I was capable of expecting, there was even more that I wasn’t able to expect. I didn’t know, for example, that my dad had set a date for medically assisted dying and it forced me to confront that information in a way I wasn’t entirely prepared for (though I have since taken the time to talk to my dad about his wishes, and support him fully in his future decisions). In my previous experience with interviewing this seems to be a running theme, however, and moving forward I believe my pre-interview statement to myself will have to include “Expect The Unexpected.”


Bezo, Brent, and Stefania Maggi. 2017. “Intergenerational perceptions of mass trauma’s impact on physical health and well-Being.” Psychological trauma: theory, research, practice, and policy, Advance Online Publication (June 5).

Bourdieu, Pierre 1980. “On Symbolic Power”. From Language & Symbolic Power.

Bucholtz, Mary, and Kira Hall. 2005. “Identity and interaction: sociocultural linguistic approach.” Discourse Studies, 4-5, 7: 585–614.

Caretta, Martina Angela. 2015. “Situated knowledge in cross-Cultural, cross-Language research: a collaborative reflexive analysis of researcher, assistant and participant subjectivities.” Qualitative Research, 4, 15: 489–505.

hooks, bell, Feminism Is for Everybody (Taylor and Francis, 2014), <> (15 December 2017)

hooks, bell, Writing Beyond Race (Routledge, 2012), <> (15 December 2017)

Scheper-Hughes, Nancy, and Margaret M. Lock. “The Mindful Body: A Prolegomenon to Future Work in Medical Anthropology.” Medical Anthropology Quarterly, New Series, 1, no. 1 (1987): 6-41.

Sherwood, Juanita. “Intergenerational trauma isn’t just another determinant of indigenous peoples’ health.” Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 9, (2014): 1-7.

Zhao, Yan. 2016. “Exploring the interactive space of the ‘outsider within’: Practicing feminist situated knowledge in studying transnational adoption.” European Journal of Women’s Studies, 2, 23: 140–54.

#ENGL391 Foucault QA for @mdanielmartin

Prompt: Create and answer 2 questions relating to some aspect of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.

Me: Docile Bodies are an aspect of Discipline and Punish, right? I’m just gonna focus on that entirely. Fuck breadth, etc.

What is it about modern, contemporary life that renders us docile? What gets us to behave and act in “normal,” “healthy” ways? How are my own habits influenced by this? How do I reproduce these behaviors in others?

[cw: unhealthy body image, self-fatphobia, etc]

Gonna start off with a blockquote for this one:

“By the late eighteenth century, the soldier has become something that can be made; out of a formless clay, an inapt body, the machine required can be constructed; poster is gradually corrected; a calculated constraint runs slowly through each part of the body, mastering it, making it pliable, ready at all time, turning silently into the automatism of habit […]” (135).

Students are numbers and seats; monetary resources to be reproduced through discourse. As this discourse is reproduced either by the majority or via a very vocal minority it becomes the line by which all other action is compared–who goes to high school? finishes? moves forward with their education? etc are all questions which are considered only with relation to comparisons to the “ideal” student. And this is but one example within our neroliberal world.



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I’ve always been fat, and I’ve always accepted that I’m fat. That said: I have been varying degrees of “””fat””””” throughout my life.

I found the middle two images (the shirtless ones) on my phone while I was cleaning it out awhile ago. I took them when I was especially unhappy with the way my body was looking, and decided to take them in an effort to shame myself into losing weight.

Protip: That’s A Terrible Idea.

As you can see from the above images, though, I have steadily gained weight since leaving high school, and it has become something I am validly self-conscious about. Why would I denote “validly” there? Because this is a perfect example of how my own habits and thoughts have been shaped by The Discourse. There is no health reason for me to be concerned about my weight (right now, but I will admit I’m on the cusp and have been speaking to my doctor about that), but because I’m not the ideal “soldier” (135) or the ideal docile body “that may be subjected, used, transformed, and improved” (137) I feel shame for that. This is reproduced in the way I interact with others about my weight (ex. choosing to use the word fat to describe myself, wearing loose clothing, etc), and although it is not my want I am showing others that the way I interact with my body is also a line by which they can and should interact with theirs.

PS – It’s something I’m working on being more confident with, but even if I gain that internal confidence we are all still markers by which others judge their own behaviors. Hopefully I can increase the positive impact of that, but in a world of docile bodies we’re all still going to be judged by The Discourse regardless. #nihilistmoments

Why do we divide and partition bodies by ranks of experience? How is this shown to occur in Stranger Things? How is it subverted? Is it? Where are the functional sites? How are these functional sites defined?

[Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking about the use of space and place of the Byer’s residence in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler-free, but if you haven’t yet seen the second season you have been warned!]

Going with another introductory blockquote:

“[T]he place one occupies in a classification, the point at which a line and a column intersect, the interval in a series of intervals that one may traverse one after the other. Discipline is an art of rank, a technique for the transformation of arrangements. It individualized bodies by a location that does not give them a fixed position, but distributes them and circulates them in a network of relations” (145-6).

Dividing, partitioning bodies by ranks of experiences is something which happens in every show (and frankly in every life). Each friend group is going to have norms which are considered to be private, and within those friend groups there will be norms between individuals.

In Stranger Things the friend group of Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair hold one another as approximate equals with regard to their rank, however with the loss of Will and the addition of Eleven these ranks are challenged. No longer are all four on equal footing, but Mike and Eleven partition themselves into a specific relationship while Dustin and Lucas partition themselves into another, with Dustin acting a mediator. People outside of their group, such as older siblings and associated relationships (ex. Nancy Wheeler, Steve Henderson, etc) are partitioned from the group by virtue of age and experience.


In the second season, however, as the characters have undergone a liminal experience through the traversal of the Upside Down and the battle with the demagorgons they are re-ranked to be more equal with one another. Thus while the the Byers house was previously only a place for specific characters, it becomes a functional site within which everyone who has undergone the same liminal experience may access at varying times. It becomes this way not only due to its location (the buck end of nowhere), but also through Will Byers acting as a locus of relations between the characters.

tl;dr Stranger Things is great, and everyone should watch it if for no other reasons than it works well for Foucaultian analysis. ((also it’s great.))