Skip to Content

Robo sapiens japanicus: Robots, Gender, Family, and the Japanese Nation by Jennifer Robertson

Gender: New Works, New Questions book discussion
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
3:00-4:30 PM
2239 Lane Hall Map
- JENNIFER ROBERTSON, Professor of Anthropology and Women's Studies, History of Art, and Professor of Art and Design, Affiliate Faculty, Robotics Institute
- JOY ROHDE, Assistant Professor, Ford School of Public Policy, History
- ALEXANDRA STERN, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Culture, History, Women's Studies; Chair, Department of American Culture

Japan is arguably the first postindustrial society to embrace the prospect of human-robot coexistence. Over the past decade, Japanese humanoid robots designed for use in homes, hospitals, offices, and schools have become celebrated in mass and social media throughout the world. In Robo sapiens japanicus, Jennifer Robertson casts a critical eye on press releases and public relations videos that misrepresent robots as being as versatile and agile as their science fiction counterparts. An ethnography and sociocultural history of governmental and academic discourse of human-robot relations in Japan, this book explores how actual robots—humanoids, androids, and animaloids—are “imagineered” in ways that reinforce the conventional sex/gender system and political-economic status quo. In addition, Robertson interrogates the notion of human exceptionalism as she considers whether “civil rights” should be granted to robots. Similarly, she juxtaposes how robots and robotic exoskeletons reinforce a conception of the “normal” body with a deconstruction of the much-invoked Theory of the Uncanny Valley.
Building: Lane Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Anthropology, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering, Japanese Studies, Michigan Robotics, Research, Women's Studies
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Women's Studies Department, Science, Technology & Society

Each fall and winter term, STS brings an array of STeMS (Science, Technology, and Medicine) speakers to campus. Check back in January for our Winter 2017 line-up.