Accepted Paper:

Making Violence and Sex Consumable: Industry Microcosms, Corporate Flaneurs and Invisible Bodies at the Modern Expo  

Authors:

Shimrit Lee (New York University)
Shelly Ronen (New York University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the exposition as a capitalization device through which industries can transform unseemly products into assets. We investigate the Israel Defense Exhibition (ISDEF) and the Adult Novelty Manufacturers Expo (ANME) as sites in which technologies of death and pleasure are made consumable.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines the exposition as a type of capitalization device (Doganova and Muniesa 2015) through which industries can transform unseemly products into valuable objects. We investigate two modern expositions as cases of unusual trade shows in which technologies of death and pleasure are made consumable. The biennial Israel Defense Exhibition (ISDEF) held in Tel Aviv showcases the latest technologies of warfare, and the biannual Adult Novelty Manufacturers Expo (ANME) is a trade show for sex toy companies held in Burbank, California. Drawing on participant observation from these two cases, we explore how exhibitors remake violence and sex into acceptable goods, what Doganova and Muniesa call "asset-becoming processes". We identify two techniques that mitigate the unseemly and the unsightly: professionalism and techno-fetishism.

The expo plays a performative role as a business scale model that orchestrates professional alliances within enterprises. The spatial instantiation of hierarchies and implicit rules of inclusion and exclusion choreograph a particular visitor experience that detaches meaning from war/sex objects and instead attaches value to future professional relationships. In the technique of techno-fetishism, a notion of the profitable future is conveyed through an investment in technology. Ideas of progress are instantiated by inviting visitors to engage in an anticipatory futuring of the self. Both ISDEF and ANME exemplify larger trends in which consumptive power works less by means of coercive state apparatuses and more by seduction that is promoted by corporations, branded through professionalism and techno-fetishism, and folded into everyday life.

Panel T005
Turning Things into Assets