Colloquium: Theorizing the Hyperracial Infringer- Constructing China as Postmillennial Yellow Peril

Anjali Vats, JD, PhD, a Visiting Professor of Law, UC Davis; Assistant Professor, Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies, Boston College; and Assistant Professor, Boston College Law School (By Courtesy), will visit the department to present on rhetoric and radicalized representations of China.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 28 at 3:30 PM

Synopsis: Theorizing the Hyperracial Infringer- Constructing China as Postmillennial Yellow Peril

This talk explores the stark binary between the characters of the Western postracial creator and the non-Western hyperracial infringer, with particular emphasis on intellectual property discourse’s role in creating racialized anti-citizens. Focusing on the rhetorical construction of Chinese piracy and counterfeiting, it illustrates how the hyperracial infringer is constructed and deployed in public culture. China is one of three nations consistently included on the US Trade Representative’s Special 301 Priority Watch List. That fact, of course, is unsurprising giving consistent public cultural representations of China as infringer. Through examination of Special 301 Reports, government and think tank policy reports, and news articles, this talk argues that representations of China are racialized. In particularly, China is routinely constructed as postmillennial yellow peril through (1) legal and policy rhetorics of economic espionage, (2) contrasts against the innocent, particularly American, entrepreneur, and (3) techno-Orientalist references to mechanist production that overwhelms US capacities to benefit from new inventions. The representations of China operate to modernize past fears of Asian citizenship and attempts to represent the Chinese as fundamentally Other and different.

Bio: Anjali Vats is Visiting Law Professor at UC Davis School of Law. She is also Assistant Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College and Assistant Professor of Law, by courtesy, at Boston College Law School. Her research is focused on rhetorics of race in law and popular culture. Professor Vats is currently working on a monograph entitled Created Differences: Intellectual Properties and Racial Formation in the Making of Americans, which considers how political, popular, and legal discourse about copyrights, trademark, and patents shape our understandings of race, citizenship, and the capacity to engage in valuable intellectual labor. She has published articles in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication, Culture & Critique, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and Southern Communication Journal. She has also co-authored law review articles in the Duquesne Law Review and Wayne Law Review. In 2016, Professor Vats was awarded an AAUW Postdoctoral Fellowship and an Exemplary Diversity Scholar Citation from the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan. Prior to teaching, she clerked for the Honorable A. William Maupin of the Supreme Court of Nevada.