Thursday, October 3, 2013

[Invited Seminar] Goodbye iSlave: Foxconn Labor and Networked Resistance

Jack Linchuan QIU 
Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Goodbye iSlave: Foxconn Labor and Networked Resistance 
27 September 2013

When you heard the shocking information about 19 Chinese Foxconn workers’ suicide attempt ever since 2010, you must be sympathy towards them. Linchuan Qiu feels the same way, but he goes further. 

From Qiu’s perspective, all of us who are now using Apple laptops or iPads or other smartphones to skim this review, are quite similar to those Foxconn iSlaves who produce those e-products.  Qiu called the Foxconn workers the manufacturing iSlaves, rural-to urban migrants, working for low pay, in poor conditions, making gadgets and exploited by cadre capital and global capital. We (and he includes himself) are manufactured iSlaves, consumers influenced by marketing, culturally absorbed, making UGC (user generated content), and exploited by western capital. These two types of iSlaves share these following commonalities: long work time, body discipline, and atomized social life. 

In his fascinating Friday Seminar talk “Goodbye iSlave: Foxconn, Labor & Networked Resistance” on 27 September 2013,Jack Linchuan Qiu showed the parallels between 17th century slavery and 21st century slavery (See pic.3), challenging our stereotype that “slavery only exists in ancient history”. In the wonderful Q & A section, Prof. Qiu advocated, “Do not look down upon those physical laborers; they are reconnected and empowered by technology, generating WGC (working-class generated content), expanding their working-class networks and the public sphere.” Indeed, workers are becoming more aware and we are increasingly hearing their voices seeing their efforts to resist. But is it enough? 

[pic.3] 21st-Century Slavery

Reviewed by 
Qianni WANG
M.Phil. Candidate

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