Jessica Helfand + Ellen McGirt | Audio

S8E6: Lisa Nakamura

Lisa Nakamura is the founding director of the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan.

Nakamura has been studying identity in digital spaces since the 1990s. She recalled an early experience in a graphical chat room called the Palace:
So I was given an avatar randomly, and I was given a black female avatar. So I came into the chat room, and someone was talking to me. They were very friendly. And the first thing they said was, “Let me help you find a new head and body.”

And I said, “Really, why do you want to do that?”…

This person didn't know if I was black or a woman, but they wanted me to look different.

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