A scholar, writer, and educator in digital media history and ecology, techno-cultural studies, and Asian and global history of cities.
I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Information at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and a Postdoctoral Research Affiliate at the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
My research explores the history and politics of "smart" urban environments as they manifest in various communities across Asia and North America. While these digital developments are often presented as the "solution to the problems," my research investigates how and why those problems are considered "problematic" in the first place, how those problems are historically and socioculturally composed, what long terms concerns about security, economy, health, and well-being are integrated in the problems that are supposedly "new," and asks if/how those solutions adequately address the said problems. For instance, while "security" is often invoked as the central design principle of the smart cities, "insecurity" is constantly required in their operation, which is evident at various levels: including the media portrayal of the cities imagined as crime-ridden and dangerous place; the technologies developed to detect and visualize "anomalies"; the citizens who internalize the responsibilities to protect and defend themselves from risks. Blending these multiple contexts of technology, I argue that the smart city is not simply an idea or a prototype of the technology that sharply ruptures the present. Instead, it is an emergence out of multiple histories and problematizations that are contingently interweaved at a given time and space in multiple and diffused forms.
I have been a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and an Emerging Voices Fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). I earned my Ph.D. in Communication and Media from the Institute of Communications Research (ICR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). I received a Ph.D. Scholarship from the Ilju Academy and Culture Foundation (South Korea), a Dissertation Completion Fellowship from UIUC, and an Honorable Mention from the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)-Urban Communication Foundation (UCF)'s Annual Research Grant.
Prior to my doctoral work, I completed both my M.A. and B.A. in Communication from Seoul National University. I am a former visiting research fellow at the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo and a former research associate at the Research Unit in Public Cultures at the University of Melbourne.
See also Publications
Yang, C. (2022). Digital Contact Tracing in the Pandemic Cities: Problematizing the regime of traceability in South Korea. Big Data & Society.
Yang, C. & C. L. Cole. (2022). Smart Stadium as a Laboratory of Innovation: Technology, Sport, and Datafied Normalization of the Fans. Communication &Sport.
Yang, C. (2020). Historicizing the Smart Cities: Genealogy as a Method of Critique for Smart Urbanism. Telematics and Informatics.
See also Research
Community Data is a hybrid lab-based seminar/group project looking at community-driven models of addressing the problem of rising gun violence in the US. Through this project, I am thinking about and experimenting with ways to redress and nurture the academia's relationship with local community organizations.
Remapping Smart Cities: A History of Technological Futures in Korea is a book project based on my fieldwork in Songdo, known as South Korea's first "smart" city. I trace the long history of Songdo from the vantage point of South Korean urban and media history in the twentieth century.
Decolonizing AI Ethics, Governance, and Education looks at the limitations of a prevalent corporate-friendly approach to embedding ethics into the design and development of AI. With the Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing (SERC) Group at the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, I have developed pedagogic materials to teach historical and societal dimensions of computing. See the first iteration of SERC on MIT OpenCourseWare.
In October 2021, I was invited to the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (HistSTM) Early Career Collective panel to speak about my experience doing postdoctoral work.
This panel discussion was part of the HistSTM's Radical Professionalization Series initiative, which seeks to address the issue of equality in academia. Given that the “hidden curriculum” of academia disproportionately affects certain minoritized groups and reinforces systemic inequality in our field, I will continue to share my experiences and knowledge with other minority early career scholars and partake in forging networks of alliances.