UW COM Fall 2020 Colloquia

The Department of Communication hosted the following colloquia during fall quarter 2020. Unable to join us? Please check out the recordings below:

Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming

With Dr. Kishonna Gray, Moderated by Dr. Ralina Joseph

headshot of Dr. Kishonna Gray
Kishonna Gray

During this presentation, Dr. Gray explicated the possibilities of synthesizing theories and methods from the disciplines of feminism, critical race, media studies, and anthropology (among others), in putting forth a critical study of intersectional technoculture. Through ethnographic examples, she demarcated a framework for studying the intersectional development of technological artifacts and systems—a research program that aims to contribute to a greater understanding of the cultural production and social processes involved in digital and technological culture.

Using gaming as the glue that binds this project, Dr. Gray puts forth intersectional tech as a framework to make sense of the visual, textual, and oral engagements of marginalized users, exploring the complexities in which they create, produce, and sustain their practices. Engaging intersectionality across transmediated platforms reveals a significant moment of critiquing narratives, creating content, and controlling narratives. The aftermath of Mike Brown’s death in 2014, for instance, revealed the power of this innovative engagement that the once-invisible could now actively engage, participate, and produce content in hypervisible ways. In the context of #BlackLivesMatter, the combination of the textual and the visual ignited not only a movement, but a proclamation of reclaiming narratives and identities across media and platforms.

About the speaker: Dr. Kishonna L. Gray (@kishonnagray) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois – Chicago. She is an interdisciplinary, intersectional, digital media scholar whose areas of research include identity, performance and online environments, embodied deviance, cultural production, video games, and Black Cyberfeminism. Dr. Gray is the also author of “Intersectional Tech: Black Users in Digital Gaming” (LSU Press, 2020). She is also the author of Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live (Routledge, 2014), and the co-editor of two volumes on culture and gaming: Feminism in Play (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2018) and Woke Gaming (University of Washington Press, 2018). Dr. Gray has published in a variety of outlets across disciplines and has also featured in public outlets such as The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The New York Times.

Conversations on Video Games and Asian/American Identity

With Drs. Tara Fickle & Christopher Patterson, moderated by Dr. LeiLani Nishime

Tara Fickle

“The Race Card: From Gaming Technologies to Model Minorities”

As Pokémon Go reshaped our neighborhood geographies and the human flows of our cities, mapping the virtual onto lived realities, so too has gaming and game theory played a role in our contemporary understanding of race and racial formation in the United States. From the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese American internment to the model minority myth and the globalization of Asian labor, Tara Fickle shows how games and game theory shaped fictions of race upon which the nation relies. 

Drawing from a wide range of literary and critical texts, analog and digital games, journalistic accounts, marketing campaigns, and archival material, Fickle illuminates the ways Asian Americans have had to fit the roles, play the game, and follow the rules to be seen as valuable in the US. Exploring key moments in the formation of modern US race relations, The Race Card charts a new course in gaming scholarship by reorienting our focus away from games as vehicles for empowerment that allow people to inhabit new identities, and toward the ways that games are used as instruments of soft power to advance top-down political agendas.

About the speaker: Tara Fickle is Associate Professor of English at the University of Oregon, and Affiliated Faculty of the Department of Indigenous, Race, and Ethnic Studies, the New Media & Culture Certificate, the Center for the Study of Women in Society, the Center for Asian & Pacific Studies, and the Comics and Cartoon Studies and Digital Humanities minors. Fickle received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and her B.A. from Wesleyan University. 

headshot of Christopher Patterson
Christopher Patterson

“Open World Empire” 

Christopher B. Patterson’s Open World Empire argues that like literature and film before them, video games have become the main artistic expression of empire today: the “open world empire” of militarized technology, exploitative labor, and the all-encompassing surveillance regimes of digital technology. To understand games as such, Patterson sees the video game as an inherently Asian commodity that provides an “Asiatic” space, a playful sphere of racial otherness that straddles notions of the queer, the exotic, the bizarre, and the erotic.

About the speaker: Christopher B. Patterson (Ph.D., U of Washington) is an Assistant Professor in the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia. His first book, Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific (Rutgers University Press, 2018) won the American Studies Association’s 2020 Shelley Fisher Fishkin Prize for International Scholarship in Transnational American Studies. His latest book, Open World Empire: Race, Erotics, and the Global Rise of Video Games, was published in April 2020 by New York University Press. His articles have appeared in the journals Cultural Studies, American Quarterly, Amerasia, Games and Culture, and other venues. He writes fiction under the name Kawika Guillermo, and his debut novel, Stamped: an anti-travel novel, won the 2020 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award for Creative Prose. His second novel, All Flowers Bloom, was published by Westphalia Press in March 2020.