Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Annotated Bib #3: Race and the Digital World

Nakamura, L. (2008). Cyberrace. Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 123, 1673-1682.

I have been exploring theory behind my profile picture project, and Dr. Romberger directed me to theory of subjectivity. I have read a primer on subjectivity by Mansfield (2000) that offers a good definition of subjectivity as "theorising the subject, … asking how the idea of a self has been thought and represented" (p. v). I turn in this post to Nakamura (2008) for an application of subjectivity in digital spaces. 

Nakamura’s question is, “[I]f life online is real, are race and racism online real too?" (p. 1675). She explores this question through a literature review of cyberspace, her intentionally chosen term drawing on the nineties’ vocabulary. What she finds running through all of the literature is an empty idealism about the Internet solving the social problem of race.  For example, in its pre-graphic days, the Internet was seen as non-racial because the body could not be seen. However, researchers found that any racism that arose was therefore blamed on the target of the racism for having brought up race (p. 1676).