Department of African American Studies
2012 to 2013
Dissertation Research Fellow
Duct Tape and the U.S. Social Imagination
Abstract: Although seemingly low-tech and lowbrow in comparison to yet another product of military research and development the World Wide Web, duct tape too has come to enjoy a kind of heroic, and perhaps even more pervasive presence in American life. In my dissertation, I explore duct tape’s role as both commodity and metaphor in the social imaginary of the United States from the 1940s (when it was invented) to 2004 (the year in which Abu Ghraib, was uncovered and visible evidence of duct tape as a state weapon emerged). I argue that the complexities behind the powerful social meanings ascribed to an everyday object like duct tape offer a window into the ways in which the United States has imagined itself as a nation and a people in the face of imminent progress and impending obsolescence.