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Author:Jun Zhang (City University of Hong Kong)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing on Jasanoff and Kim's idea of "sociotechnical imaginaries," I propose that we shall explore technology as an ideological force, embedded in political economy, through which a sense of history is imagined, negotiated and understood, and ethnography provides the apt tool to do so.
Paper long abstract:
In social studies of technology, scholar often study how a specific technology is socially and culturally constructed, or to examine how a technology reshapes or reproduce socio-political relations. Drawing on Jasanoff and Kim's idea of "sociotechnical imaginaries," I propose that we shall also explore technology as a symbolic or ideological force, embedded in a specific form of political economy, through which a sense of history is imagined, negotiated and understood, and ethnography provides the apt tool to do so. I try to think about this possibility through the case study of technological nationalism in China in the age of the gig economy. Technology, as understood through the rise of the gig economy, is pitted against labor as the measurement of progress. For many people with or without actual technological literacy, technology shapes an imagination of historical time. Such perception of time pivots on the ideological contrast between high technology-progress and low technology-backwardness, through which a new kind of national community can be imagined.
Shifting Horizons: Anthropology and STS in the 21st Century