Director, Professor, Asian American Studies & Institute of Communications Research
Lisa Nakamura is the Director of the Asian American Studies Program, Professor in the Institute of Communication Research and Media Studies Program and Professor of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. She is the author of Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity and Identity on the Internet (Routledge, 2002) and co-editor of Race in Cyberspace (Routledge, 2000). She is editing a collection with Peter Chow-White entitled Digital Race: An Anthology (Routledge, forthcoming) and is writing a new monograph on social inequality in virtual worlds, tentatively entitled “Workers Without Bodies: Towards a Theory of Race and Digital Labor in Virtual Worlds, or, Why World of Warcraft needs a Civil Rights Movement.”
Illegal Workers in Virtual Worlds: Unfree Labor, Incivility, and the New Orientalism
Recent media scholarship has begun to question the commodification of user generated content, recommendations, and profile creation on the Internet as “free labor” that ought to be compensated. As the Internet diffuses into new contexts of labor and exploitation in the global south, we must ask: whose “free” labor needs to be protected and is being exploited? This presentation will explore the paradoxes of uncivil behavior in digital media such as griefing, gold farming, and sexual behavior in social network sites to locate emergent differences between the cultural identity and political economies of the global North and the global South.
Associate Research Professor, Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures, The Johns Hopkins University
Bernadette Wegenstein, an Austrian linguist and filmmaker, received her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Vienna University in 1998. She is currently Associate Research Professor in the department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at the Johns Hopkins University, where she teaches media and film theory. Her first book, on the representation of AIDS in the European Media, Die Darstellung von AIDS in den Medien, appeared in 1998 with Vienna University Press. She is the author of Getting Under the Skin: Body and Media Theory (The MIT Press 2006), The Cosmetic Gaze: Body Modification and the Construction of Beauty, (forthcoming 2011, The MIT Press), the edited volume Reality Made Over: The Culture of Reality Television Makeover Shows (special volumes of Configurations, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Spring issue 2008), and of numerous articles on body criticism, performance art, and film theory. In 2006 she formed her own Baltimore based production company Waystone Productions LLC to produce and direct her first feature-length documentary film on the topic of the technologies and culture of bodily makeover called Made Over in America (2007), which is distributed through Icarusfilms. She is currently producing the documentary Wien—Baltimore portraying Viennese Holocaust survivor Leo Bretholz, and his efforts to educate Baltimore youth on the Holocaust (in collaboration with Austrian director Lukas Stepanik).
The Cosmetic Gaze: Body Modification, and the Construction of Beauty
In this talk I will argue that our present-day mode of looking at bodies expresses a cosmetic gaze: a gaze already informed by the techniques, expectations, and strategies of bodily modification and a way of looking at bodies as awaiting an improvement. The cosmetic gaze as we see it epitomized in contemporary media phenomena like reality makeover shows on television is also a physiognomic gaze in that it draws a short-circuit between inside and outside beauty. My talk will trace some of the history of this short-circuit between an inside and an outside transformation, and will analyze how different visual media have informed and shaped this gaze in historically specific ways, as well as how aspects of that history inhere in media practices today.