Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

GRAD WORKSHOP - Between Past and Future

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Aaron Shapiro (Annenberg School for Communications)
"Performance and Performativity in Predictive Policing"

Hao Jun Tam (Penn Dept. of English)
"Diasporic South Vietnam: Pacifist Nationalism and Its Militant Shadow in Ly Tho Ho’s Novel Sequence"

PREDICTIVE POLICING REFERS TO THE USE OF MACHINE LEARNING and artificial intelligence algorithms to automate the analysis of law enforcement data to detect or deter crime. In a context of heightened awareness around police violence and misconduct, a debate has emerged as to whether predictive policing would rationalize patrol operations and lead to needed reforms, or if it would, as critics argue, reinforce extant structures of racially-discriminatory and inequitable policing. AARON SHAPIRO’s paper takes up the question of how to explicate these seemingly incommensurable arguments, suggesting that the two can be resolved somewhat by engaging a distinction between the performance and performativity of predictive algorithms.

AGAINST A LOSS-LEANING MODE OF ANALYSIS awash with prophetic doom, HAO JUN TAM’s paper posits that diasporic South Vietnamese literature written in English and French and published abroad in fact belongs to a writing tradition that has produced some celebrated texts of Vietnamese anti-colonial nationalism. Conscious that South Vietnam began as a French construction and subsequently stayed on U.S. life support, South Vietnamese overseas know too well the charge of being stooges to foreigners. Their literature provides an opportunity for self-representation and even national defense, countering Hanoi’s worldwide propaganda in the West. Despite its generally anticommunist sentiments, this literature is not an extended arm of the Saigon government. On the contrary, writing abroad allows for freedom of ideas unacceptable to both wartime regimes and to the current one in power. Tam’s analysis looks closely at two prime examples of diasporic South Vietnamese fiction with their own versions of literary nationalism.