Article ID: CBB580680524

Bored Techies Being Casually Racist: Race as Algorithm (2020)


Connecting corporate software work in the United States and Germany, this essay tracks the racialization of mostly male Indian software engineers through the casualization of their labor. In doing so, I show the connections between overt, anti-immigrant violence today and the ongoing use of race to sediment divisions of labor in the industry as a whole. To explain racialization in the tech industry, I develop the concept of race-as-algorithm as a device to unpack how race is made productive within digital economies and to show the flexibility of race as it works to create orders of classification that are sensitive to context. Using evidence collected through observation in tech offices and through interviews with programmers over five years, I track race as an essential but continually disavowed variable within the construction of global tech economies. Historical racializations of casual labor in plantation economies illuminates how casualness marks laborers whose rights can be muted and allows corporations to deny their culpability in promoting discrimination within and outside of the tech industry. These denials occur across a political field that divides “good” from “bad” migrants. Using the ethnographic symptoms that Indian tech workers identify in their environments, this essay reads these signs as an antidote to these continued denials.

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Article Katrina Karkazis; Rebecca Jordan-Young (2020) Sensing Race as a Ghost Variable in Science, Technology, and Medicine. Science, Technology, and Human Values (pp. 763-778). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Anderson, Warwick H.
Aspray, William F.
Barany, Michael J.
Bauer, Susanne
Blanchard, Pascal
Borch, Christian
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
Social Studies of Science
Agricultural History
Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology
International Labor and Working Class History
Cambridge University Press
Cornell University Press
Liverpool University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Rutgers University Press
Labor and laborers
Technology and society
Charles Perrow
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
18th century
United States
Great Britain
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Symantec Corporation
Peter Norton Computing Corporation

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