Techno-Orientalism and Genre  (Panel / In-Person)

Special Session
Asian / Genres and Audiences

Seohye Kwon (Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College)
skwo@****.com (Log-in to reveal)

This session focuses on how today’s literary productions often describe non-human entities from a racialized perspective. It solicits papers that contextualize this question within techno-Orientalism that dehumanizes and thingifies the Asiatic as hyper-modern. Either a theoretical approach or a literary analysis approach is welcomed.

Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media defines techno-Orientalism as the phenomenon of imagining Asia and Asians in hyper-technological terms that repeat the Orientalist value/threat dualism—as can be seen in figuring Japan as a futurized fantasy and China as the dystopic—to affirm the West’s centrality. On the one hand, the West argues that such technological innovations in Asia became possible by the West, but Asia has become over-developed, being more Western than the West, almost a simulacrum of the West. On the other hand, the fundamentally different, inorganic, and robotic Asian bodies threaten humanistic integrity, and it is the Western subject who becomes the savior to realize liberal humanism. Therefore, “while Orientalism defines a modern West by producing an oppositional and pre-modern East, techno-Orientalism symmetrically and yet contradictorily completes this project by creating a collusive, futurized Asia” (7).

This session aims to explore these contradictory representations of the Asiatic as pre-modern and hyper-modern within the productions of specific genres—including but not limited to sci-fi, apocalypse, and survival games. Interdisciplinary approaches to Asian Studies, Asian American Studies, gender studies, and global studies are welcomed.