Roundtable

LOCAL/TRANSLOCAL:
THE REPRODUCTION OF TECHNOLOGICAL PROMISE

Hang Li

Chisenhale Gallery, London
18.09.2021

Online roundtable discussion, hosted by Chisenhale Gallery, image provided by Hang Li

Organised by Hang Li, with Shuyi Cao, Iris Long, Lawrence Lek, Canhui Liu, Xiaoyi Nie, Yue Ren, Xin Shen, Su Wei, Jing Zeng, Yukun Zeng, Harriet Min Zhang, Zoe Zhao (Xi An), and Joni Zhu.

Following the public online panel discussion, 'Local/Translocal: The Reproduction of Technological Promise' that saw communication and media researcher Dr. Jing Zeng, sociology and public policy researcher Canhui Liu, writer and curator Su Wei and curator and scholar Joni Zhu come together with Hang Li, a group of researchers, curators and artists with different knowledge backgrounds joined the core group in a closed-door roundtable discussion.

The micro-gathering reflected upon topics and questions raised from the panel discussion, sharing research interests in technology, labour, governance, social movements, diaspora studies and colonialism. The participants further explored the crossroads and shared struggles among some distanced disciplines and discourses, cross-examining topics of technology, locality, identity, and hope.

Some of the themes, experiences, questions and conclusions that were carved out, amongst others, were:

Joni Zhu on translocality and border:

"In my work, what I tried to dismantle is the idea of the centre and periphery – the idea of the centre and rural populations. So a part of what I've been looking at for the past couple of years is the emergence of new subaltern space. The new subaltern space is no longer just in the rural spaces; it also emerges in the city centre, where really intensive labour processes are happening. In regards to border, capital itself is borderless. But it has to keep borders alive in order for the kind of cross border or transnational trade to happen. The borderlessness of capital transcends political borderlines, while I think, at the same time, perpetuating the geographic and economic frontiers that separate the periphery and the centre, the global north and global south."

Jing Zeng on platformisation and identity:

"On the one hand, back home, TikTok was praised as a pin-up example of the growing digital soft power of China's tech sector. However, in the international context, Tiktok's Chineseness has only invited criticism and skepticism. In response to this form of 'platform xenophobia' (a term introduced by my colleagues Chen and Kaye), TikTok has been exercising a form of self-imposed whitewashing, distancing itself from its Chinese mother company. In a recent study, my co-authors and I will introduce this concept of 'parallel platformisation' to describe this relatively new phenomenon where non-western companies launch (almost) identical products like TikTok, and Douyin in two parallel regulatory environments/markets. The phenomenon of parallel platformisation allows researchers to directly comparable how tech companies (especially non-Silicon-Valley tech companies) negotiate their own identities, and how two identical 'parallel products' learn from each other, exchange knowledge and shape each other."

Shen Xin's question about technology, culture, and land:

"My practice concerns technology that centres around restorative practices and relationships. And the question I have, after listening to the fantastic panel just now is, how does technology produce culture, in relation to China as land, not concerning nation-state?"

The recording of the panel discussion will be available to watch in November on Remote Affinity's archival website alongside further information about Hang's events and her fellowship research project ‘Remote Affinity: Working together from a distance'.

For further materials such as readings, visuals, projects, and thoughts that have inspired Hang’s research and writings during her fellowship, explore the related content below.