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2024 EAS-CAH Workshop: Digital Asia


Lisa Nakamura (University of Michigan); Florian Schneider (Universiteit Leiden)

APSI and AMES invite members of our scholarly community to attend the 2024 EAS-CAH workshop focusing on the theme of “Digital Asia.”

Except where otherwise noted, all sessions take place in the Pink Parlor, East Duke Building.

If you plan to attend, make sure to RSVP.

~~please note, the following agenda is subject to change~~

Workshop Agenda


Breakfast (provided to registered participants)


Opening Remarks & Welcome: Eileen Cheng-yin Chow & Shai Ginsburg


KEYNOTE LECTURE: Florian Schneider (Leiden) -- “Gamified Politics: The Quest for Digital Social Governance in Xi’s China”
     Introduced by: Carlos Rojas (Duke)


Lunch (provided to registered participants)


EAS+CAH Student Panel

  • CAH students: Karen He, Qiwen Li, Danni Xu
  • EAS students: Kenan Gu, Zoey Liu

    Moderator: Ralph Litzinger (Duke)


KEYNOTE LECTURE: Lisa Nakamura (University of Michigan) “The Queen of Myspace: Tila Tequila and the Asian American Roots of Social Media Infrastructure”
     Introduced by: Anna Storti (Duke)




Breakout Seminar Sessions with Lisa Nakamura & Florian Schneider (Blue & Pink Parlors)


Final Roundtable + Future Directions (plenary session)


Concluding Remarks

Following the workshop, registered participants are invited to a reception hosted by Professors Eileen Chow and Carlos Rojas.

About the speakers:

Lisa Nakamura is the Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor in American Culture at the University of Michigan. Her fields of study include Asian American studies, digital media theory, digital game studies, feminist theory, film and television studies, and race and gender in new media.

Florian Schneider PhD, Sheffield University, is Chair Professor of Modern China at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies. He is managing editor of Asiascape: Digital Asia, director of the Leiden Asia Centre, and the author of three books: Staging China: the Politics of Mass Spectacle (Leiden University Press, 2019, recipient of the ICAS Book Prize 2021 Accolades); China’s Digital Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2018); and Visual Political Communication in Popular Chinese Television Series (Brill, 2013, recipient of the 2014 EastAsiaNet book prize). In 2017, he was awarded the Leiden University teaching prize for his innovative work as an educator. His research interests include questions of governance, political communication, and digital media in China, as well as international relations in the East-Asian region.

About the Keynote Talks:

Gamified Politics: The Quest for Digital Social Governance in Xi’s China

In 2019, the Chinese authority launched a new communication and networking platform for CCP cadres: the app, called “Study (Xi) and Strengthen the Country” (Xue Xi Qiang Guo, 学习强国), is very much an example of what scholars call “gamification”: the use of game elements in context that are not games. Gamification has been immensely popular in Asia, where ride-sharing apps like the Indonesian Gojek, video platforms like China’s Bilibili or Japan’s Niconico, and e-commerce platforms like Singaporean Lazada and Shopee entice users with points, levels, badges, and casual games.

In China, the state has taken notice, and its cadre management and communication app prompts users to collect so-called study points through their activities, which improves their ranking vis-a-vis other users on the app’s leaderboards and allows them to earn rewards like tickets to popular attractions or free mobile data.

What happens when users are “nudged” into certain directions by such game mechanics? How do gamification initiatives play out once people and technologies start to interact in often messy ways? Maybe more importantly: what should we make of attempts to use gamification for “social governance” in China or elsewhere?

In this talk, Florian Schneider will explore these questions by examining gamification as an example of complex, networked politics.

The Queen of Myspace: Tila Tequila and the Asian American Roots of Social Media Infrastructure

In this paper I read the social media industry’s development through the figure of the queer Asian American refugee woman who was both its most visible figure and its most valuable content creator and builder during a pivotal moment in its development and, after her turn to American fascism, one of its most hated figures.

I read her through the lens of critical refugee and Asian American Studies because these fields focus on the “legal-political (and social, civil) category of the not-quite-human: immigrant, coolie, neocolonial, transnational laborer, sex worker, call center operator, etc.,” roles that Tila Tequila either made digital for the first time on Myspace or was made to occupy before it.

Tila’s formative not-quite-humanness blurred the line between these roles just as the first group–people of color displaced by wars, economic hardship, or genocides began to create the conditions for the second group’s work to become digital.