Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers in Berlin
The Postracial Office
This chapter uses ethnographic observation in corporate offices and interviews with programmers and managers from India, Germany, Australia, and the United States to show how race is refracted and reimagined through evaluations of worker quality. It explores the ways that race is deployed around cognitive work, arguing that it is a means of dividing office work into skilled “front room” and grunt “back room” coding. Firms simultaneously pay attention to race as a source of information on foreign populations of potential customers and to evaluate the desired traits of future cognitive workers. In a postracial office, race is denied as a salient factor in decision making through an emphasis on work quality, even while worker quality is attributed to race. This chapter explores the multiple ways that race is made meaningful in such an environment.