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March 23 , 2008

Digital Media, Cultural Production and Speculative Capitalism


This collection of essays explores the interfaces between new information technologies and their impact on contemporary culture, and recent transformations in capitalist production. From a transnational frame, the essays investigate some of the key facets of contemporary global capitalism: the ascendance of finance capital, and the increasing importance of immaterial labor (understood here as a post-Fordist notion of work that privileges the art of communication, affect, and virtuosity). The contributors address these transformation by exploring their relation to new digital media (YouTube, MySpace, digital image and video technology, information networks, etc.) and various cultural forms including the Hispanic television talk show, indigenous video production, documentary film in Southern California, the Latin American stock market, German security surveillance, transnational videoconferencing, and Japanese tourists’ use of visual images on cell phones. The authors argue that the seemingly radical newness and alleged immateriality of contemporary speculative capitalism, turns out to be less dramatically new and more grounded in colonial/racial histories of both material and immaterial exploitation than one might at first imagine. Similarly, human interaction with digital media and virtuality, ostensibly a double marker for the contemporary and economically privileged subject, in fact reveals itself in many cases as transgressive of racial, economic and historical categories.
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