Critical Race & Digital Studies Syllabus

Image from Computer History Museum via Lisa Nakamura (2014) Indigenous Circuits: Navajo Women and the Racialization of Early Electronic Manufacture

Edited & compiled by Lori Kido Lopez & Jackie Land

As scholars of color we know that understandings of race and racial inequalities have always been at the center of debates about technology, politics, and power. We designed this syllabus to provide a broader context for understanding current conversations around technology and democracy by centering the voices and scholarship of people of color. The set of readings included here focus primarily on racial formations in a U.S. context and provides curated introduction to the myriad ways that race has shaped aspects of our digital world—from the infrastructures and policies that support technological development, to algorithms and the collection of data, to the interfaces that shape engagement.  

We then highlight the vast body of scholarship on how communities of color have deployed new media in ways that expand the public sphere, contest the status quo, and give voice to their creativity, passion, and desires. This syllabus represents research that has been foundational in developing the field of critical race and digital studies since its origins in the 1990s and cutting edge scholarship that can help us to tackle emerging changes and shifts in the media landscape. We invite anyone who is interested in the topic to check out the readings on the list.

Download here + print version here [set print settings as double-sided, short-edge binding]


Week 1:  Early Internet Studies on Cyber-Race

Week 2:  Foundations in Critical Race Theory and Media

Week 3:  The Power of Technology and Infrastructure

Week 4:  Bias in Algorithms, Interface, and Design

Week 5:  Digital Methodologies and the Collection of Racial Data

Week 6:  Critical Race Approaches to Digital Humanities

Week 7:  Bringing in Intersectional Approaches to Race, Gender, and Sexuality Online

Week 8:  Activism and the Politics of Digital Difference

Week 9:  Conversation and Networks on Twitter

Week 10:  The Labor of Blogging as a Person of Color

Week 11:  Remediating Video through YouTube, Netflix and Digital Television

Week 12:  Embodiment and Interaction in Video Games

Week 13:  Diaspora and Minoritized Populations Across the Globe