Gendering the Techno-Orient: The Asian Woman in Speculative Fiction
This thesis explores the complicated relations between the ontology of race and its gendered aesthetic representations within the phenomenon of techno-Orientalism, the prevailing tendency in textual and visual culture to imagine Asia and Asians in hyper-technologized and/or futurized terms. Although Saidian Orientalism has pointed out the constructed nature of the dichotomies between the modern, technological west and the ancient, mystical East, techno-Orientalism takes such discourse into the context of global information capitalism, producing nuanced yet troubling narratives of race and technology that reflect changing perceptions of modern personhood and identity. I focus specifically on the figure of the Asian woman in various works of speculative fiction, including the film Ex Machina and the Japanese animation Ghost in the Shell to interrogate the ways in which her embodied racial identity can be represented, reimagined, and renegotiated in both western and Asian narrative spaces. Ultimately, I critique the notion that postmodernist and/or utopian portrayals typical of SF legitimize the erasure of contemporary discourses of race and gender, since emphasis on either pure aesthetic signs or posthuman ontology loses sight of the fact that race is heavily intertwined with technology and can itself constitute a form of technology.