Conerly Casey


Conerly Casey is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has extensive ethnographic experience with young Muslims in northern Nigeria and Kuwait in broad areas of health and healing, conflict and violence, and mediated affect and emotion. Her present research evaluates the sensory politics and mediated affects of violent sensorial, such as the sights, sounds, and movements of war, on memory and emotion. Recent publications include: “Remembering and Ill Health in Post-invasion Kuwait: Topographies, Collaborations, Mediations” in Genocide and Mass Violence: Memory, Symptom and Recovery, eds. Devon Emerson Hinton and Alexander Laban Hinton (Cambridge University Press, 2015), “The Art of Suffering: Postcolonial (Mis) Apprehensions of Nigerian Art” in Suffering, Art and Aesthetics, eds., Ratiba Hadj-Moussa and Michael Nijhawan (Palgrave Macmillan 2014), and ““States of Emergency”: Armed Youths and Mediations of Islam in Northern Nigeria” in Journal of International and Global Studies 5 (February 2014), republished in Déjà Lu Journal (World Council of Anthropological Associations 2016). She also edited, with Robert B. Edgerton, Companion to Psychological Anthropology: Modernity and Psychocultural Change (Blackwell Publishers, 2005), which received a Choice Magazine Outstanding Book Award.

Research Focus

Dis/sociating: Politics and the Senses in Urban Northern Nigeria

My project is to complete a book manuscript entitled, Dis/sociating: Politics and the Senses in Urban Northern Nigeria. I use the term, ‘dis/sociating’ to refer to movements away from self and/or others, as sensory affects, memories, emotions, and perceptions of self, other and environment shift, and states of consciousness change, to impact inter-subjectivities, belonging and state politics. The concept of corruption is central to dis/sociative dynamics in the predominantly Muslim, Hausa speaking, urban societies of northern Nigeria, as dis/sociating often begins at the moment people sense corruption, pollution or contamination. My intention is not to explain dis/sociating as ‘pathology’ nor a healthy withdrawal from toxic or dangerous others, common ideas in Europe and the United States. Instead, I want to trace sensory affects that come into being as people, dis/sociating, find ontological relations, epistemological meanings, rationales and intentions to act. What draws peoples’ attentions, channeling and repeating particular affectivities? What training or socialization affects, in, for instance, the military or religious sects, engage northern Nigerians? What sensory apprehensions of ethics and choice corrupt or direct social, political actions? What states of dis/sociating from self and/or others become part of significant reformations of social, spiritual, health or environmental relations? This research will enable me to approach theoretical questions about how humans and human relations with other beings—humans, spirits, animals, organic matter, and materials—are being shaped by perceptions of sensory corruption, particularly via media, and to consider an interrelated set of larger questions: How do human interactions with media sensorial affect sensing, perception, emotion, memory, cognition, and various forms of knowledge and communication? How do such interactions impact ontological and epistemological understandings that underpin health and wellness, conflict and violence, or engagement with political, medical and religious ideas and movements? Affect studies of media offer insight about such dynamics, but they are rarely grounded in the unique pools of sensory affects, epistemologies and ontologies that operate in societies outside of Western Europe and North America. By contrast, my interdisciplinary, global dynamic approach to these mediated human relations involves multi-method, multi-sited ethnographic research with Muslims in Nigeria during periods of rapid technological change, 1991-present. I use insights from inter-related projects to consider people dis/sociating in urban northern Nigeria as they encounter corrupting sensoria and a sensory politics of self and other.