Jack Qiu - iSlavery & Antislavery: Rethinking Digital Labor & Capitalism
This talk is based on Jack Qiu's new book Goodbye iSlave: A Manifesto for Digital Abolition (forthcoming-2016, University of Illinois Press). Digital media have long been thought of as “technologies of freedom”. But the reality cannot be more contradictory if one approaches the same gadgets from where they are made, for example, in the bleak landscape of Chinese factory zones. A comparative exercise – between trans-Atlantic slavery since the 1600s and twenty-first-century iSlavery – is needed to better understand the profound problems of today’s digital industries, in order for us to act upon them.
Exploitation, suppression, alienation, addiction, self-destruction: these features of enslavement have crept into the empire of digital media, along the assembly line and in the data mine. Yet, as always, the expansion of slave systems leads to endeavors of antislavery when the exploited resist the powers that be, when citizens join the struggle to set humanity free. Although digital abolition at its present stage may seem a far cry from ending slavery and the capitalist world system at the very roots of modern enslavement, it is undoubtedly an important first step. Its long-term implication shall not be underestimated because iSlaves have nothing to lose but their chains; they have a world to win.
Jack Linchuan Qiu is professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he serves as deputy director of the C-Centre (Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research). His publications include World’s Factory in the Information Era 信息时代的世界工厂 (Guangxi Normal University Press, 2013), Working-Class Network Society (MIT Press, 2009), Mobile Communication and Society(co-authored, MIT Press, 2006), some of which have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Portugese, and Korean. He is on the editorial boards of 10 international academic journals, including six indexed in the SSCI, and is Associate Editor for Journal of Communication. He also works with grassroots NGOs and provides consultancy services for international organizations.
Date and Time
RMIT Design Hub
cnr Swanston and Victoria Streets
Building 100, Level 10, Pavilion 4
Carlton, VIC 3000