HTNM Revisited: Lisa Nakamura, "Indigenous Circuits"

11 Feb, 2014

HTNM Revisited: Lisa Nakamura, "Indigenous Circuits"

On Thursday, February 6, 2014 Professor Lisa Nakamura, the Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American Culture and Screens Arts at the University of Michigan, kicked off the spring semester for the 2013-2014 History & Theory of New Media (HTNM) lecture series with her “Indigenous Circuits: Navajo Women’s Labor, Race, and Gendering in Digital Media History.”

In the talk, Professor Nakamura took a closer look at archival documents left from the largely invisbilized history of the Fairfield Corporation’s production facility in Shiprock, NM, which employed thousands of Navajo women between the years 1965 and 1975. Nakamura’s analysis focused on the visual and textual rhetorical strategies by which the company and their allies in the community “sold” their facility and their employment of Native Americans to both the employees and a wider public. By focusing on the uncanny resemblance of the patterns of Navajo blank weaving to the circuit board, the company successfully (for a short time anyway) appealed to nature—that is the “innate” skill of the Navajo women—in order to convert traditional female craft labor into high-tech manufacturing. In a media archaeological approach to material culture, Nakamura unearthed an early incidence of the racialization and gendering of labor that continues to occur in the field of technology production.

For those of you who missed Professor Nakamura’s lecture last week, you still have time to make it to one last HTNM lecture this academic year! Join us on March 6th at 6:00pm in the Banatao Auditorium for a talk by Alex Galloway.

Listen to and watch Lisa's talk below!

Lisa Nakamura HTNM Feb 6 from Berkeley Center for New Media on Vimeo.