Jonathan Beller Talk: The World Computer: Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

Fri October 9th 2020, 12:00 - 1:00pm

Computation, suspected of having swallowed and reformatted the world, does not mark the end of capitalism, but a new phase of racial capitalism. The social differentiation endemic to the history of commodification and its corollary capitalist expansion requires through its very scale, complexity, and requisite integration a difference engine in the form of the discreet state machine. This difference engine is also a social difference engine. The virtual machine Beller calls “the world computer” inscribes and makes legible executable code on bodies in various ways, including in forms that we identify as race, gender, nation, class, and a million other differences that make a difference. The rise of ubiquitous computing and the background monetization it accomplishes, also announces that the computer is a derivative machine and functions both  to assigning and structure risk. Beller will discuss these themes and others from his new book including the concept of the programmable image and that of informatic labor.

Jonathan Beller is Professor of Humanities and Media Studies and co-founder of the Graduate Program in Media Studies at Pratt Institute. His books include The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle (Dartmouth UP, 2006); Acquiring Eyes: Philippine Visuality, Nationalist Struggle, and the World-Media System (Ateneo de Manila UP, 2006);  The Message is Murder: Substrates of Computational Capital (Pluto Press, 2017) and The World Computer: Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism (Duke UP, 2021). He is a member of the Social Text editorial collective.