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SSN Seminar: Prototype Nation: China & the Contested Promise of Innovation

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SSN online seminar with Associate Professor Silvia Lindtner (University of Michigan), hosted by the Deakin Science and Society Network

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Please join us for this online seminar hosted by the Deakin Science and Society Network (SSN). You can join the conversation on Twitter by following us at @SSNDeakin and using the hashtags #SSNseminar

Title:

Prototype Nation: China & the Contested Promise of Innovation

Abstract:

How did China’s mass manufacturing and “copycat” production become transformed, in the global tech imagination, from something holding the nation back to one of its key assets? Prototype Nation offers a transnational analysis of how the promise of democratized innovation and entrepreneurial life has shaped China’s governance and global image. Lindtner reveals how a growing distrust in Western models of progress and development, including Silicon Valley and the tech industry after the financial crisis of 2007–8, shaped the rise of the global maker movement and the vision of China as a “new frontier” of innovation. Lindtner’s investigations draw on more than a decade of research in makerspaces, tech incubators, corporate offices, and factories. She examines how the ideals of the maker movement, to intervene in social and economic structures, served the technopolitical project of prototyping a “new” optimistic, assertive, and global China. In doing so, Lindtner demonstrates that entrepreneurial living influences governance, education, policy, investment, and urban redesign in ways that normalize the persistence of sexism, racism, colonialism, and labor exploitation. Prototype Nation shows that by attending to the bodies and sites that nurture entrepreneurial life, technology can be extricated from the seemingly endless cycle of promise and violence.

About the speaker:

Silvia Lindtner (she/her) is Associate Professor at the University of Michigan in the School of Information and Associate Director of the Center for Ethics, Society, and Computing (ESC). She is a founding member of Precarity Lab, a research collective working on various forms of insecurity, vulnerability, and social and cultural exclusion that digital platforms produce, and mediate. She is the co-founder of the China research collective Hacked Matter, dedicated to critically investigating processes of technology innovation, urban design, and production cultures in China. Lindtner's research interests include cultures and politics of technology innovation and entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on the gendered and racialized forms of labor necessary to sustain and incubate technological promise. Lindtner draws from more than ten years of multi-sited ethnographic research, with a particular focus on China's position in the global political economy of technology production. Lindtner’s work contributes to the fields of STS (science and technology studies), cultural and feminist anthropology, China studies, HCI (human computer interaction), global communication studies, science and technology policy, and design. Her research has been awarded support from the US National Science Foundation, IMLS, Intel Labs, Google Anita Borg, and the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation.

About the respondent:

Dr Luke Heemsbergen is a Lecturer at Deakin University, Australia, and researches the political relations afforded through our digital choices in the real world. He was previously a Research Fellow at the Melbourne Networked Society Institute, and a ‘Berktern’ at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. His main research interests are based in the (digitally) networked terrain of radical transparency and democratic governing. Recently he’s been thinking about digital artefacts in the real world and physical artefacts from the digital world (from 3D printing to new ways of augmenting ‘reality’).

Watch the seminar:

Seminar will be available to stream on YouTube live. Access using the live link: https://youtu.be/9WOJdCjA6LE

Date/time: Tuesday 30th March, 10am - 11:30am (Australian Eastern Daylight Time, GMT+11)

Q&A with the speaker to follow. To send questions/participate in the chat, you'll need to sign-in using a YouTube account.

The seminar will be recorded and available to watch on the SSN YouTube channel after the Livestream.

If you have any questions, please send to ssn-info@deakin.edu.au

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