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Book on the visual constitution of “race” in online environments

29 April, 2008

Here is a post from Anthrodesign:

DIGITIZING RACE: Visual Cultures of the Internet
Lisa Nakamura
University of Minnesota Press | 304 pages | 2007
ISBN 978-0-8166-4612- 8 | hardcover | $58.50
ISBN 978-0-8166-4613- 5 | paperback | $19.50

The implications of how we see and exhibit race and ethnicity online.

Lisa Nakamura, a leading scholar in the examination of race in digital media, looks at the emergence of race-, ethnic-, and gender-identified visual cultures through popular yet rarely evaluated uses of the Internet. While popular media depict people of color and women as passive audiences, Nakamura argues that they use the Internet to vigorously articulate their own types of virtual community, avatar bodies, and racial politics.

“With Digitizing Race, Lisa Nakamura, one of the most perceptive observers of identity in the digital age, skillfully draws our attention to those taken for granted interfaces at which race and ethnicity are constituted, revealing the centrality of these techno-visual practices to contemporary political culture.” -Alondra Nelson

For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book’s webpage:

http://www.upress. umn.edu/Books/ N/nakamura_ digitizing. html
Although the book deals with the US only, it makes me think of the very distinctive visuality of Chinese sites. On the one hand, there is the “cuteness” that has by now probably become a visual identifier of being East Asian (though it is very interesting why it is so broadly accepted and what sort of identities and includes); on the other hand, there are specific national(istic) symbols, though normally far less prominent. The organisation of the sites also tends to be very different from English-language ones, which raises the question whether such things as formatting can in itself convey a particular (vaguely ethno-political) identity.

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