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Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet

3.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415938372
ISBN-10: 0415938376
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With chapter subtitles such as "Identity Tourism, Avatars, and Racial Passing in Textual and Graphic Chat Spaces" and "Making Race Happen Online," Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet shows the tenaciousness of race categories in cyberspace, despite the Web's touring as a raceless utopia. Lisa Nakamura, associate professor of English at Sonoma State University, argues that "race, as vexed a term as that has come to be, is an indispensable part of the 'root' that warrants, anchors and conditions the lives of actual users in cyberspace to the world offline," and that only by paying close attention to race's offline vicissitudes will we understand online life.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Defying a generation of scholars who have argued that there's no place for race in cyberspace, Lisa Nakamura sets out to find and analyze the cultural work that race and ethnicity do online. Traveling through a fascinating web of online nodes and offline narratives--advertisements for Microsoft and MCI, MUDs, and commercially-driven Web sites, and cyberpunk films and novels, to name a few--Nakamura deftly and engagingly shows us that race happens, both online and within popular discourses portraying online culture. A tour-de-force that can and should blow the doors of cyberculture studies wide open, "Cybertypes is the book we've been waiting for."
-David Silver, University of Washington
"Nakamura argues that 'race happens' in cyberspace, and in her book a savvy racial analysis is what's on the menu. With attention to presences, absences, identities, subjectivities, ideologies, and practices in Internet and other cyberspatial zones, Cybertypes shows how 'doing virtuality' is never unmarked. What we get from reading difference with Nakamura is a menu for change, not a recipe for more of the same."
-Donna J. Haraway, University of California at Santa Cruz
"Cybertypes is a simply fascinating examination of how racial ideas changed in the online environment."
-"The Bookwatch
"Nakamura strikes a productive balance in tone; her writing is thoughtful yet breezy. It is thorough enough to stand up to the demands of academia, while it resists relying too heavily on the labyrinthine and verbose of critical theory or the obtusely specific jargon of computer technology."
-"NYFA Quarterly, Spring 2003
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (June 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415938376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415938372
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lisa Nakamura is Professor of American Cultures/Asian and Pacific Islander Studies and Professor in the Department of Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is interested in the role of women and racial minorities in the early digital industries, racial discrimination in virtual worlds, sex, race, and labor in social networks, and racial humor online.

twitter: lnakamur

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Within the field of cybercultural studies no single writer is as widely recognised for exploring the oft-ignored categories of race and ethnicity in cyberspace(s) as Lisa Nakamura. Her writing is mandatory for any undergraduate course exploring identity online and her new book Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet finally collects all of her articles under one cover. Of the five main chapters, each is based upon one or two previously published articles or chapters, although most have been reworked to some (usually minimal) extent. The additional framing elements of the introduction and conclusion, while brief, do contextualise and historicise Nakamura's work in important ways and provide important signposts for future work.
The first chapter, `Cybertyping and the work of race in the age of digital reproduction', opens with an introduction of the term `cybertype', built upon the nineteenth century word stereotype, which originally referred to a machine which could easily mass reproduce specific images. Nakamura uses cybertype since `identity online is still typed, still mired in oppressive roles', and expands the term `to describe the distinctive ways that the Internet propagates, disseminates, and commodifies images of race and racism' (3-4). The chapter then deals with a number of cybertypes-including Indian Silicon Valley workers (cybertyped as efficient and cheap immigrants)-and also examines the theory that access to the internet equals equality online, a theory touted in much of the US government's `digital divide' rhetoric.
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Format: Paperback
Cyberspace makes fluid the identification process and can allow for anonymity and even a kind of liberation from race, age, and gender restrictions. Author Lisa Nakamura argues that racial stereotypes are hardwired even in online interactions, with web directories narrowing racial categories and anonymity associated with white. Cybertypes is a simply fascinating examination of how racial ideas changed in the online environment.
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Format: Paperback
Nakamura is part of a movement that takes cybercultural studies past utopia and dystopia and describes how categories of race and identity work within this new ontological plane.
Although the language is highly technical (accessable mainly to students of cultural studies and more specifically critical theory) the book can also be useful for those more adventurous readers who are willing to tough out an interesting book in order to learn a little bit more about the world they live in.
Daniel Clausen
daniel clausen dot com
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By A Customer on January 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
One of the key problems with the book is this separation between the offline and online world Nakaumra tries to establish. Given that "race happens in 'real life' ", it is naïve to believe it would not happen on the Internet. She has some valid points, but most of her argument is rooted in false assumptions and untenable generalizations about computer science, e-commerce and demography.
Too much emphasis is put on the "Web" and its technical limitations. The materiality of the technology does necessarily explain the nature of the information found on the Internet. The book also focuses too much on specialized use of the Internet such as MUDs and not enough on mundane activities. Today, most users use the Web for very down-to-earth, practical reasons. The use of such uncommon cyber-activities as examples limits her argument to further generalizations.
In the end, the Web is nothing more than an extension of the offline world. Race happens online, but for very different reasons than the ones Nakamura expresses. Race happens online, because race happens offline.
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