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Give Water a Name: a short film, and Florida Man: Climatological Racism and Internal Homonationalism in U.S. Political Satire

Give Water a Name: a short film, and Florida Man: Climatological Racism and Internal Homonationalism in U.S. Political Satire

John Moran
PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology
Date and Time: 
Monday, March 5, 2018 - 12:30
Location: 

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)

Abstract: 

I’ll be presenting a film and paper--two brown bags for the price of one!

Give Water a Name: What is clear water? Turbidity, or opaqueness caused by suspended solids, is a quick index of water quality—but not always. For those in the Florida Panhandle working to restore Wakulla Springs, clear water is a synecdoche for an ecologically restored spring run. The spring bowl was once “a hemisphere of water” that, when crossed on a glass-bottom boat, was like being “suspended on empty air.” Since the late 1990s, the spring has gone dark. This paper considers the role, significance, and figuration of the spring bowl, whose discharge constantly changes in relation to rainfall, pollution, and the tides, in efforts to reduce nitrate pollution in the Tallahassee region. Does the spring bowl itself compel the restoration of the spring through its semiotic propensity as an immense material actor—“a giant among us” as the Florida Park Service proclaims? Oral history interviews with environmental activists are juxtaposed with footage of the spring bowl and run.

Florida Man: Climatological Racism and Internal Homonationalism in U.S. Political Satire: Florida Man, a composite character whose actions are drawn from strange criminal behavior in Florida, has emerged this decade as a major meme in U.S. political satire. This paper analyzes representations of Florida Man across television, journalism, and social media to investigate associations between Florida Man and reptiles, swamps, and heat. Representations of Florida Man as homophobic are symptomatic of internal homonationalism, a conceptual framework for understanding how rural, white southerners are represented as simultaneously perverse and homophobic, their grotesque bodies contrasted with idealized metronormative bodies. Attention to climate and ecology reveals the troubling underbelly of sometimes admittedly funny Florida Man jokes: insinuations of tropical degeneracy founded in climatological racism.