Lin Zhang, University of New Hampshire; Elaine Yuan, University of Illinois at Chicago; MERLYNA LIM, Carleton; Asmita Bhutani, University of Toronto;
The 'platform turn' introduced a new framework to comprehend the technological, economic, and discursive practices of the post-industrial digital economy. The understanding of platforms as the new frontiers of the globalized digital economy, however, has only gained further depth and nuances when situated outside the epicenter of Silicon Valley in other parts of the world, especially Asia, the world's fastest growing region. The variegated local experiences, dynamism and heterogeneity of platform economies in Asia both complement and challenge Silicon Valley-centered narratives. They interrogate mainstream platform studies' assumptions and position 'platform capitalism' within the extension and convergence of long-term tendencies in the history of global capitalism and in diverse local social and cultural contexts.
This 'politics of imagining Asia' has become increasingly contested recently with a surge in Anti-Asian sentiments during the Covid-19 pandemic and the intensification of a 'new Cold War' centered around the US and China. Digital platforms and technologies are at the center of these confrontations: from supply chain disruption and restructuring, inter-regional flows of capital, goods, technologies, and labor, new restrictions of foreign capital and businesses, to discursive battles over racism and xenophobia, and debates about different models of political governance and economic development. This panel aims to facilitate productive discussions and dialogue for scholars working at the intersection of platform studies and Asian studies. What could we gain by rethinking platform studies in and with Asia? How could our engagement with platforms help advance Asian studies at the new conjuncture?