ICS Seminar Series - Professor Jack Linchuan Qiu

Date: Thursday, 22 July 2021
Time: 11.30am–1pm
Venue: The seminar will be hosted online via Zoom. Please RSVP to e.blight@westernsydney.edu.au by 21 July, 5:00pm, to receive the Zoom details.

Humanising the Posthuman: Digital Labor, Food Delivery, and Openings for the New Human During the Pandemic

Presenter: Professor Jack Linchuan Qiu

Discussant: Professor Heather Horst


Posthuman is a social condition of humans losing control, especially to technological forces, and a mode of thinking beyond the Anthropocene and enlightenment modernity. Building on the posthuman critique, this talk examines digital labor and food delivery platforms during Covid-19 in Asian contexts (Singapore, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines). The main argument is that, while reinforcing inequalities through algorithmic forms of discrimination and social control, the pandemic also creates openings for progressive change — towards the humanising of the posthuman, and towards the construction of the “new human”. As such, Covid-19 is more than a crisis that signifies the end of the “old normal”. It is more importantly another moment when existential crisis triggers innovation in working-class network society, leading in this case to novel discourses, practices, and networks of the “new human”. How and why did this happen? What are the implications for digital economies and cultures in Asia and the world? These questions will be discussed.

Jack Linchuan Qiu is Professor and Research Director in the Department of Communications and New Media, the National University of Singapore. He has published more than 100 research articles and chapters and 10 books in English and Chinese including Goodbye iSlave: A Manifesto for Digital Abolition (University of Illinois Press, 2016), World Factory in the Information Age (Guangxi Normal University Press, 2013), Working-Class Network Society (MIT Press, 2009), and co-authored book Mobile Communication and Society (MIT Press, 2005). His work has been translated into German, Japanese, Korean, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.  Jack is President of the Chinese Communication Association (CCA), recipient of the C. Edwin Baker Award for the Advancement of Scholarship on Media, Markets and Democracy, and an elected Fellow of the International Communication Association (ICA).