The Color of New Media: Race, Ethnicity, and Digital Culture

The Color of New Media: Race, Ethnicity, and Digital Culture
CRG Research Working Group, 2013-2014

The objects and spaces of new media are often perceived as predominantly white: costly, originating in the Global North, created by mostly-white professionals in the fields of engineering, programming, and design, and used most intensively by the mostly-white economic elite and their children.  This working group will promote the design and execution of research and scholarship that focuses on the non-white and/or non-North American/European users and makers of new media.  Graduate students and faculty members who participate will be encouraged to share work with the group that takes humanistic approaches to studying, surfacing, and generating theories and histories of digital culture that pertain to racial and ethnic minoritarianism, transnationalism, the “digital divide,” the Global South, and hybrid identities.  We will also very much welcome scholarly projects on new media that attend to intersections of race and ethnicity, nation, class, and/or gender.

Scholarly investigations of the role that race and ethnicity have played in the development of new media—such as histories of non-white technological pioneers in the creative and cultural industries, the stereotypes of “techno-Orientalism,” the culture and politics of “Afro-futurism,” speculative fiction written by people of color and by people from and in the Global South, and the development of high-tech industries and services in Latin America, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa—are rarely placed at the center of studies of new media, since the stories of the evolution of the Internet, mobile devices, video games, and online education are often framed as emerging exclusively from white male inventors and consumed by white audiences.

 
This working group will seek to add new voices, and new lenses, to the new media studies “conversation,” in order to diversify and broaden the scope of that conversation.  The overarching goals of this group will be: to share resources on issues of race/ethnicity/nation and new media, to foster the creation of new scholarship on these issues, and to nurture fellowship and social networking among scholars, particularly scholars of color, working in the field of new media studies.  The working group will be primarily focused on: 1) reading and discussing academic material on race, ethnicity, nationality, and digital culture, and 2) helping participants workshop new material (conference papers, dissertation chapters, or essays for publication that they are writing).  We will invite local post-doctoral students and UC faculty members who are working on similar topics to some of our meetings.  This working group may also result in a conference for the public sharing of the papers drafted by the group members.