Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
On April 3, 2018, Nasim Najafi Aghdam (Nasime Sabz), an Iranian refugee, vegan activist, artist, and body builder who was upset with YouTube’s demonetization of her videos walked into the company’s headquarters in San Bruno, injuring three people and killing herself with a gun. In this paper, I argue, first, that (YouTube) machined together the fleeting queer assemblage of “Nasime Sabz,” a collection of human-computer, human-animal, and organic-inorganic. Second, I argue that this metal-flesh assemblage became most clear when she walked into the company’s property with a gun, and at the moment when a metal bullet shattered her flesh into pieces. By analyzing Aghdam’s YouTube videos and her moment of death, I will show that her parahumanity is not just owed to crossing lines of human-animal; sane-insane; victim-villain; robot-human, but to being an Iranian immigrant—a risky subject who will never be an exceptional citizen; one who lives a loaned life. Contextualizing Aghdam’s death within the politics of rightful killing, I argue that loaned life encapsulates the conditional life of the population that has the potential to be democratized and contains the risk of terrorism. Loaned life is contingent on the form of life (make live only if life aligns with the tenets of liberal democracy) and the temporality of rights (make live only as long as gifted with rights).