Hey there! I am an assistant professor of communication and media studies at the University of New Hampshire. I graduated from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, with a PhD in Communication, and MA from NYU’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication.
I study digital capitalism as it intersects with the specificities of class, nation, gender, race, locale, and age with a focus on China in the global context and in spaces of transnational encounter. I conceptualize technologies through the specificities of global capitalism to emphasize not only my approach of analyzing digital technologies as thoroughly embedded in the mutual imbrication of economy, culture, and politics, but also to highlight the historical continuities and ruptures of digital capitalism as an uneven world system. In my research I ask how global capitalist norms both reinvents and are shaped by locally specific, historical and cultural practices in transforming subjectivities and governance? How individuals who are variously positioned along intersecting axes of multiple identities engage, appropriate, challenge, and ultimately, come to shape digital capitalism? Adopting anthropological, sociological, historical, and critical cultural perspectives, I combine a variety of methods in my research, such as ethnographic participant observation, interview, historical/archival research, textual/discourse analysis, and survey.
Currently, I am working on a book project that examines the proliferation of various forms of IT entrepreneurialism in post-2008 China through a labor perspective. I analyze the nation’s economic and social restructuring following the 2008 global economic crisis by promoting techno mass entrepreneurship and innovation as individual and collective entrepreneurial labor of reinvention. I focus, in particular, on the hybridity, contradiction, and ambivalence of such labor. Tentatively titled Entrepreneurial Labor of Reinvention: IT Entrepreneurialism as the New Labor in Contemporary China (Under contract with Columbia University Press), the book is an ethnography of IT entrepreneurial Labor in urban, rural, and transnational China, and an analysis of the post-2008 phenomenon of individual self-reinvention amidst national and economic restructuring. Based on almost a decade of multi-sited ethnography and social historical research, the book tells three stories of IT entrepreneurs who are interactionally positioned between class, gender, locale, and age. By putting entrepreneurship back to labor while redefining labor in the present context of proliferating entrepreneurialism, the book rethinks both entrepreneurship and labor as traditionally defined by social scientists. It also contributes to the emerging digital labor literature by problematizing the singularity of the Euro-American individualizing trajectory and the total domination of the economy over the social.
I also write about digital labor, visual culture, video games, online spoofing culture, and debates on race in cyberspace. You could find my work in the Journal of Consumer Culture, New Media and Society, International Journal of Cultural Studies, International Journal of Communication, Feminist Media Studies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and China Information etc.
You can reach me via email at Lin.zhang [at] unh [dot] edu.