Lecture Examines Subaltern Labor And Health Care In Developing Countries


By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Radhika Gajjala, a professor of media and communication and director of American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University, will speak on “Automating Subaltern Labour: Circuits of Care in Developing World Health Care Support Systems” during a guest lecture at Cal State San Bernardino on Thursday, Nov. 14.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Santos Manuel Student Union Theater from 4-5 p.m. Parking at the university is $5.

While subaltern originally referred to a junior officer, as in the British army, it has since come to be known as a person of low rank, typically describing someone who has no political or economic power, such as a poor person living in a developing country or a minority who is marginalized by the system.

Gajjalla’s lecture will examine technologies of care and the individualization, as well as the “machinization” of care and the “automating” of subaltern labor, and their implications.

According to a synopsis of her presentation, the “automating” of a subaltern labor class happens through the standardization and professionalizing of the workers’ training practices. In the case of rural and lower caste young women recruited into care work in places such as India, where this is done “in the name of empowerment and material mobility,” it results in producing “human automatons.”

“Radhika’s lecture is timely and important for anyone who wants to understand how the lives of the poor and disenfranchised, especially women, in Asia are impacted by our desire to not only outsource labor but also outsource it in a way through our control and mastering of the digital space,” said Ece Algan, associate professor of communication studies at Cal State San Bernardino.

“Much care work is done online through the forms of e-doctor, call center, e-tutor, etc., but with very little concern for the workers who care for us. Her work allows us to think critically about the discrimination and inequalities that are deepened by the current global economic system under the reign of ICT industries that create and manipulate regulatory and policy environments for their own interests.”

Gajjalla’s work examines digital media and globalization as well as gender, race and technology. She has a particular interest in South Asian Diasporas and critical development studies. Gajjalla’s publications include “Cyberculture and the Subaltern: Weavings of the Virtual and Real” (2012), “Cyberfeminism 2.0” (2012), “Global Media, Culture, and Identity: Theory, Cases, and Approaches” (2011) and “South Asian Technospaces” (2008).

Gajjala’s lecture is co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies and Program and CSUSB’s National Endowment of the Humanities Grant. More on her research may be found on her faculty Web page at http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/wmst/page86402.html as well as her personal website at http://personal.bgsu.edu/~radhik.

For more information on the lecture, contact Ece Algan, CSUSB associate professor of communication studies, at ealgan@csusb.edu or (909) 537-7469.

For more information on the university, contact the Cal State San Bernardino’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

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