[iDC] request for Aytes paper

Lisa Nakamura lisa.lanakamura at gmail.com
Fri Nov 20 14:08:52 UTC 2009

Ayhan: let me second David Golumbia's comment.  I was presenting at the same
time as you, and did not get to attend your talk, but I'm also working on
the connection between "turking," orientalism, gold farming, and other forms
of racialized transnational digital labor--those "nimble little fingers" of
Asian people, as Haraway says, are part of the cultural imaginary of
technoscience, but also part of earlier digital histories.  The idea of
Asians as ancillary laborers rather than "creative class workers" in digital
technologies and economies goes all the way back to the history of circuit
board assembly in Silicon Valley, as well as in more contemporary times.
 Lawrence Liang writes about the vexed history of piracy and copyright in
the context of E. Asia, and how E. Asia is envisioned less as a space of
innovation and more as one of imitation or copying, mostly illegal copying.
 Sarai has some great readings on this transnational difference of opinion
on "open" media.

My parents' families were interned in camps in Wyoming during World War II.
 My father's parents had been gardeners and service workers for Stanford
professors in Los Altos.  After the war they returned to California and my
grandmother lied about her age to get a job working at as assembly plant
which was recruiting specifically Japanese American women, for their manual
dexterity.  She worked there for many years, and is still alive at 107.  My
father was recruited right after being released from camp, and later went to
college on the GI Bill at Hamline in MN, and majored in business at UC
Berkeley.  He then worked as a businessman (not an engineer) at ITT,
Fairchild, and Omron before starting his own polarizer business, trading
between Japan and the US. His former boss William Shockley often shared his
crazy eugenic ideas about the superior intelligence of Asians, especially in
regards to technology, and predicted that his children would out-perform
white children in school.  He used the money he earned that way to send me
to a nice private college in Oregon, where I got an extremely conservative
liberal arts education and now study race and digital media.

This story has struck me as saying something about race, war, and
technoscience, but because it's my story I'm not entirely sure what the
message is.  This is all to say that techno-Orientalism is a transnational
and local formation.


Lisa Nakamura
Director, Asian American Studies Program
Professor, Institute of Communication Research
Professor, Department of Media and Cinema Studies
Professor, Asian American Studies Program
University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana
1208 W. Nevada Street, MC-142
Urbana, IL 61801-3818
office phone: 217 244-3768
fax: 217 265-6235
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