In my last post, I told you a little bit about Lisa Nakamura, her research, and the talk she gave at my university about Tumblr activism. I also promised to tell you about her second lecture the next time I wrote.
Both of Nakamura’s lectures were about digital media, but unlike her first talk, her second presentation focused on the physical material of digital technology.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, or recently time-travelled to 2015, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that most of your digital hardware came from Asia. You may even be familiar with the way Asian women have been racialized as innately predisposed to factory work because of their “supposed docility, nimble fingers and attention to mind-numbing detail”.
However, you might be surprised to learn that this stereotype has been applied to women of colour ever since the digital revolution. In her paper on “Indigenous Circuits: Navajo Women and the Racialization of Early Electronics Manufacture” Nakamura examines the way digital factory work is both gendered and racialized. She refers to the work of Karen Hossfeld when she insists that
“…by the eighties in Silicon Valley, electronic assembly had become, not just women’s work but women of color’s work.” (290)