This book examines the intimate relationship between race and technologies and how digital platforms reabsorb racism as an internal arrangement within its modes of technical and affective architecture.
Premising the idea that technologies supplant and mirror the ‘logic’ of racialization as mimetic instruments of social control and violence, the book interrogates the present arrangement of platform capital, and its modes of re-abstraction of race into its fibres and terrains of re-territorialization of the human spheres of social, economic and political life. If capitalism reframed and consolidated racialization through its re-territorialization and primitive accumulation producing continuities from colonization and imperialism, platformization and digital capital redrafts and redistributes its racial logic in new modes of reassembling social and economic life through data, machine learning, algorithms, software designs and in tandem its automaticity. In learning, refining, and accelerating its enterprise through the mimetic violence of producing difference, racism in the digital age calibrates intimately with power, Western rationality and the ubiquity of technologies within the everyday. If the non-hominization of alterity relied on discoveries of science and its conflations with truth and White supremacy, the sustained production and oppression of the ‘inferior other’ co-opted automaticity and technologies, reiterating our fascination with and our understanding of human progress as pegged to machines, as entities working in excess of human cognition and comprehension, connecting and responding to its ambient intelligence despite its material absence.
The book underpins the configuration of power and White supremacy through its co-enterprise with technologies seeks to provide an alternative and decolonial approach to technology studies particularly new media and digital technological advancements, leveraging on the notion of the digital age as an era of acceleration of difference, experimentation and the production of alterity through overt and covert modes of surveillance, image recognition software, and algorithms which work in complicity with racial capital.
Yasmin Ibrahim is Professor in Digital Economy and Culture at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research explores the socio-cultural dimensions of digital technologies and its implications for humanity. She teaches on the digital economy and has published numerous books and articles on the topic. She also writes extensively on race, migration, border controls, Islam and terrorism. Her recent books include Posthuman Capitalism; Dancing with Data in the Digital Economy, Migrants, Refugees at UK Borders: Hostility and 'Unmaking' the Human and Technologies of Trauma; Cultural Formations over time.
Algorithms are under increasing scrutiny. But for Ibrahim, it’s not enough to pry open these computational black boxes; we must see them as fused with the unequal societies from which they emerge. This book offers an uncompromisingly critical yet conceptually sharp account of algorithms as machines—assemblages of artificial and human intelligence—crystallizing and reproducing the profound hierarchies, marginalities, domination, and violence underpinning processes of racialization.
In Digital Racial Yasmin Ibrahim has launched a powerful yet devastating analysis of the algorithmic violence inherent in platform capitalism. If you want to understand how digital technology is instrumental in processes of racialisation and social control, you must read this book.
As the cybertarian fantasies of the internet fade into the oblivion that always awaited them, we are in desperate need of sober yet committed voices to guide us through the complex digital world. Yasmin Ibrahim is one such voice, and a brilliant one. This richly evocative study alerts us to the racialized operation of the world’s key digital platforms. A triumph.