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Visual & Media Cultures Colloquium - Lisa Nakamura

Automating Racial Empathy: Virtual Reality and the Undercommons
Wed Oct 17, 2018, 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Porter College Room D245
Presented by: 
Arts Division
Film & Digital Media
History of Art & Visual Culture


This talk addresses the reasons that so many virtual reality experiences attempt to reproduce the experiences of refugees, black women, prisoners, black men, animals, and other marginalized beings. I see these texts as part of larger anxieties about VR's white users' reluctance to listen to the voices of these beings, preferring instead to learn about them "first hand." I will also address forms of resistance such as the #listentoblack women" hashtag.

Lisa Nakamura is the Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and coordinator of its Digital Studies Institute.  She is the author of four books on racism, sexism, and the Internet.  Her areas of interest include histories of indigenous electronic manufacture in post-war America, content moderation by women of color on social media, and virtual reality’s claims to produce racial and gender empathy.

The annual Visual and Media Cultures Colloquia (VMCC) at UCSC are a collaboration between the graduate programs in the Film and Digital Media Department and Visual Studies in the History of Art and Visual Culture Department. The series brings an array of cutting-edge scholars to speak on a broad spectrum of subjects. Talks are free and open to the public. Parking permit required.