This think piece returns the MIT controversy to an analytical frame that was largely ignored in 2006—the digital. Online reading habits have changed the ways of how we navigate the Web. Surfing through hyperlinks gave rise to decontextualization and the decoupling of images from their explanatory texts. The MIT controversy opened our eyes not only to the destabilizing effect of knowledge production in the digital era but also the perils of participatory culture online. The 2006 debate also drove home the crisis about online publishing: materials published online are never going to be completely acceptable to a “global audience” who straddles across diverse ethnic, cultural, religious, national, and ideological borders. Running through this piece is a complementary theme—the “racialization of point of view”—which further tied the participants of this controversy to a polarizing, dichotomous positioning of “us” versus “them” and “Free America” versus “Red China,” from which an internationalist position was difficult to emerge.
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Jing Wang; Reframing the Visualizing Cultures Controversy: Let's Talk about the Digital Medium. positions 1 February 2015; 23 (1): 167–174. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2870558
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