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Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media

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What will the future look like? To judge from many speculative fiction films and books, from Blade Runner to Cloud Atlas, the future will be full of cities that resemble Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and it will be populated mainly by cold, unfeeling citizens who act like robots. Techno-Orientalism investigates the phenomenon of imagining Asia and Asians in hypo- or hype What will the future look like? To judge from many speculative fiction films and books, from Blade Runner to Cloud Atlas, the future will be full of cities that resemble Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and it will be populated mainly by cold, unfeeling citizens who act like robots. Techno-Orientalism investigates the phenomenon of imagining Asia and Asians in hypo- or hyper-technological terms in literary, cinematic, and new media representations, while critically examining the stereotype of Asians as both technologically advanced and intellectually primitive, in dire need of Western consciousness-raising.  The collection’s fourteen original essays trace the discourse of techno-orientalism across a wide array of media, from radio serials to cyberpunk novels, from Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu to Firefly.  Applying a variety of theoretical, historical, and interpretive approaches, the contributors consider techno-orientalism a truly global phenomenon. In part, they tackle the key question of how these stereotypes serve to both express and assuage Western anxieties about Asia’s growing cultural influence and economic dominance. Yet the book also examines artists who have appropriated techno-orientalist tropes in order to critique racist and imperialist attitudes.   Techno-Orientalism is the first collection to define and critically analyze a phenomenon that pervades both science fiction and real-world news coverage of Asia. With essays on subjects ranging from wartime rhetoric of race and technology to science fiction by contemporary Asian American writers to the cultural implications of Korean gamers, this volume offers innovative perspectives and broadens conventional discussions in Asian American Cultural studies.    


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What will the future look like? To judge from many speculative fiction films and books, from Blade Runner to Cloud Atlas, the future will be full of cities that resemble Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and it will be populated mainly by cold, unfeeling citizens who act like robots. Techno-Orientalism investigates the phenomenon of imagining Asia and Asians in hypo- or hype What will the future look like? To judge from many speculative fiction films and books, from Blade Runner to Cloud Atlas, the future will be full of cities that resemble Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, and it will be populated mainly by cold, unfeeling citizens who act like robots. Techno-Orientalism investigates the phenomenon of imagining Asia and Asians in hypo- or hyper-technological terms in literary, cinematic, and new media representations, while critically examining the stereotype of Asians as both technologically advanced and intellectually primitive, in dire need of Western consciousness-raising.  The collection’s fourteen original essays trace the discourse of techno-orientalism across a wide array of media, from radio serials to cyberpunk novels, from Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu to Firefly.  Applying a variety of theoretical, historical, and interpretive approaches, the contributors consider techno-orientalism a truly global phenomenon. In part, they tackle the key question of how these stereotypes serve to both express and assuage Western anxieties about Asia’s growing cultural influence and economic dominance. Yet the book also examines artists who have appropriated techno-orientalist tropes in order to critique racist and imperialist attitudes.   Techno-Orientalism is the first collection to define and critically analyze a phenomenon that pervades both science fiction and real-world news coverage of Asia. With essays on subjects ranging from wartime rhetoric of race and technology to science fiction by contemporary Asian American writers to the cultural implications of Korean gamers, this volume offers innovative perspectives and broadens conventional discussions in Asian American Cultural studies.    

30 review for Techno-Orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction, History, and Media

  1. 5 out of 5

    boocia

    this was pretty ok ! as someone coming in with no background, this was fruitful but by nature went wide and shallow - a collection of v short essays around/on techno-orientalism. good ground covered: - generally the idea of asian bodies being both laboriously human and inhumanly futuristic is cool; the idea of asia being both the future at its best and most dehumanizing is cool - really liked chasing roots of techno-orientalism in depictions of japanese soldiers in 1905 (‘horde’, brutal but machin this was pretty ok ! as someone coming in with no background, this was fruitful but by nature went wide and shallow - a collection of v short essays around/on techno-orientalism. good ground covered: - generally the idea of asian bodies being both laboriously human and inhumanly futuristic is cool; the idea of asia being both the future at its best and most dehumanizing is cool - really liked chasing roots of techno-orientalism in depictions of japanese soldiers in 1905 (‘horde’, brutal but machine-like in turns, inhumanly self sacrificing). - loved the read on western and esp. kotaku’s coverage of asian gamer death, and its connection with larger Western fascination with ‘inhuman’ and unsustainable work done by asian bodies, from gold farming for money to simply leisure-gaming so hard you die in an internet cafe. - validating to hear how gibson might actually be good still, but only his later stuff that’s more reflexive (japan looking at the west looking at japan) - i just wanna know more about fu manchu now and that’s great - hey did you know that the guy who wrote red dawn went on the write homefront? and companies that make army war training video games also make popular ones? fucked up. not one-hundo on how directly that’s about techno-orientalism, but good to know - close reading of the difference engine, and its ‘temporal’ placement of asia, africa, and europe was just well written. - reads of singapore and japan capitalizing/using/being themselves influenced by western conceptions of asia being the neoliberal technological future was spicy also cons: i was sort of scrabbling for a foothold of what techno-orientalism actually is, esp in relation to orientalism. this made the Point of close readings of say, Son of Sinbad in the context of techno-orientalism hard to grasp (isn't that just orientalism?) some dates were thrown out to demarcate the start of techno-orientalism - the japanese-russian war in 1905, fordism, 1980s when japan became both a massive consumer and massive producer of western media and technology - but nothing definitive. some unifying principles were suggested too: both orientalism and techno-orientalism are about modernity, but if orientalism is a product of the west then techno-orientalism is also a product of "information capitalism" (not further defined). chinese and japanese consumerism, bidirectional trade/information transfer, conception of asia as the locus and symbol of futurity - none of these came up in all the essays consistently enough for me to stand firmly on. the other hiccup for me is that while yellow peril and fear of a north korean or japanese invasion and vietnam war came up, islamaphobia or war on terror did not. this seems odd when the essays do talk about Son of Sinbad, harem girls, and cheap indian labor. in general this comes back down to the definition of techno-orientalism (is islamaphobia out of scope? why?). but also, asian enough to support my argument, not asian enough for nuance/specificity is such a chinese/eastasian american thing to do tbh. finally there was some mention of techno-orientalism encapsulating a non-hegemonic take on orientalism, one where asia has a say on the orientalist narrative being taken (japan especially in dialogue with the west). however, that felt like a really big hole that wasn’t addressed by these american and canadian essay writers. wish to see more but so it goes.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Essential reading.

  3. 5 out of 5

    aya

    formative

  4. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    A few of the chapters I really enjoyed ("I, Stereotype: Detained in the Uncanny Valley," "The Mask of Fu Manchu, Son of Sinbad, and Star Wars IV: A New Hope: Techno- Orientalist Cinema as a Mnemotechnics of Twentieth- Century U.S.- Asian Conflicts," and "Racial Speculations: (Bio)technology, Battlestar Galactica, and a Mixed- Race Imagining") but several chapters I found convoluted since I hadn't consumed the original source material (or perhaps I lack in my comprehension of critical literature) A few of the chapters I really enjoyed ("I, Stereotype: Detained in the Uncanny Valley," "The Mask of Fu Manchu, Son of Sinbad, and Star Wars IV: A New Hope: Techno- Orientalist Cinema as a Mnemotechnics of Twentieth- Century U.S.- Asian Conflicts," and "Racial Speculations: (Bio)technology, Battlestar Galactica, and a Mixed- Race Imagining") but several chapters I found convoluted since I hadn't consumed the original source material (or perhaps I lack in my comprehension of critical literature). Nonetheless, this book is essential for sci-fi (especially cyberpunk) lovers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    A

    A+

  6. 5 out of 5

    gwen

    super interesting read, examined harmful scifi tropes that I had never considered before

  7. 5 out of 5

    Emme Enojado

    i read this for class and surprisingly really liked it. really makes you think about asian portrayal in media and how harmful it can be when playing into stereotypes

  8. 4 out of 5

    R

    Mr. Roh, Ms. Huang and Ms. Niu wherever you are have a great day

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stuart Pratuch

  10. 5 out of 5

    M

  11. 5 out of 5

    D

  12. 4 out of 5

    Charlynn Estes

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

  14. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  15. 4 out of 5

    Elena Kuran

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexis

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jo Kroke

  18. 4 out of 5

    Heejoo Park

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stella

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gianina

  21. 5 out of 5

    *

  22. 5 out of 5

    Biubiubiubunny

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Simpkin

  24. 5 out of 5

    AlyssumAcantha

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marcus Dovigi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Minsoo Thigpen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adam

  28. 5 out of 5

    Melos Han-Tani

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julie

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