Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
In his classic essay on “Publics and Counterpublics,” Michael Warner argues that “publics are constituted through mere attention” (2002:60), which can range from simply overhearing some form of public address to what he describes as “active uptake.” But, what exactly is attention? What kind of subject and psychology does the concept presuppose? What kinds of varieties does it admit? What kind(s) of social relations and power relations does it reflect and construct? This paper takes up these questions, drawing on ethnographic research on a large-scale, nation-branding project that was undertaken in the Republic of Macedonia, as well as on recent theories of the “attention economy.” In working to historicize and to concretize ethnographically the concept of attention, the paper elaborates political economic conditions that are often erased in theories of media participation and the public sphere.