[iDC] Iintroduction from Jodi Dean

Dean, Jodi JDEAN at hws.edu
Sat Jun 13 14:07:36 UTC 2009

At Trebor's request, I'm writing to introduce myself to the list (I've been lurking for quite a while).  I'm a political theorist who works at the interface of psychoanalysis, marxism, and critical media theory.
Over the past decade, I've been working on the notion of communicative capitalism as a tag for the ways networked information, communication, and entertainment media embed, extend, and amplify
globalized neoliberalism. I also blog at I Cite (http://jdeanicite.typepad.com) where I've recently placed a draft of an article I'm working on, The Real Internet.

Jodi Dean 
Professor, Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY
Erasmus Chair of the Humanities, Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University, Rotterdam

From: idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net [idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net] On Behalf Of Lisa Nakamura [lisa.lanakamura at gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2009 10:30 AM
To: idc at mailman.thing.net
Subject: [iDC] introduction from Lisa Nakamura

I'm writing this short email to introduce myself to this list, at Trebor's request. I think that Trebor's idea to have a conference on virtual labor and the Internet as playground and factory is an excellent one.  I work on race and digital media, and have been thinking about this question for a few years now in relation to digital games and virtual worlds as sites of labor. If you go to
you can get a copy of my article entitled "Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Game: The Racialization of Labor in World of Warcraft"<http://sites.google.com/site/theresearchsiteforlisanakamura/Home/csmcfinal.pdf?attredirects=0> which came out last month in a journal called Critical Studies in Media Communication I'm hoping to develop it into a longer piece.  It's about the racialization of labor in World of Warcraft, and how Chinese worker-players make and sell gold to leisure players who are too busy to earn in-game money for themselves.  This chapter has been extraordinarily unpopular among most games scholars and game players, who are after all fans at heart and don't like to hear criticisms of their game.  The rhetoric of merit, equality, and "play" that pervades games studies is challenged by the rapid growth of grey market economies, predominantly sustained by emiserated workers who play for 12-hour stretches in "workshop" conditions in mainland China.  Richard Heeks estimates this trade in virtual goods to be worth as much as 500million/year.  These forms of transnational gamic labor are undoubtedly racialized, hence the term "Chinese gold farmer," a new ethnic slur of the virtual world "citizen" who wishes to defend this world's virtual borders against illegal immigrants, but who is happy to use their labor.   As Vijay Prashad wrote several years ago of the plight of S. Asian transnationals, "they want our labor, but not our lives."  Projects like Stephanie Rothenberg's School of Perpetual Training and Invisible Threads/Double Happiness Jeans expose the laboring side of virtual worlds and the traffic in virtual goods by inviting the user to participate in sweatshop labor in Second Life and through the WII--play platforms that show us that "we are all farmers," as Alex Galloway wrote in 2007.


Lisa Nakamura
Director, Asian American Studies Program
Professor, Institute of Communication Research
Professor, Asian American Studies
University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana
1208 W. Nevada Street, MC-142
Urbana, IL 61801-3818
office phone: 217 333-3928
fax: 217 265-6235

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