Monday, February 19, 2007

Race and World of Warcraft

Here's my abstract for submission for the "Race and Video Games" conference at University of California, Riverside:

"Looking for Ophera Windfury: Imagining Race (and Sexuality) in World of Warcraft"

Given the incredible global popularity of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, with a playership now exceeding six million worldwide, there is still a dearth of scholarship on and cultural critique of the game, particularly looking at race and sexuality. This paper attempts to identify and interrogate the "racial logics" of WoW, beyond a close-reading of fantasy race as allusion or allegory for real world race, to begin to theorize how race is visualized, articulated, and cued. In other words, in a game of fantasy race, how and where and why might actual race and racism be deployed, negotiated, disguised, and taken for granted. Lisa Nakamura, author of Cybertypes, argues, "When users go online, race dwells in the mediating spaces between the virtual and the real, the visible and the invisible" (144). How then can we challenge and explore this mediating space? Furthermore, in the imagining (perhaps intrusion) of real world race into the game in ways that fix them or to borrow Nakamura's construction cybertype them, how might other categories, such as sexuality, be left unsettled or open? Looking at character creation, game play, and game narratives, this paper argues for a productive opportunity in the play of, with, and play in race and sexuality to discover "disruptive moments of recognization and misrecognition" (Nakamura 144) that can offer "subversive potential in regard to oppressive notions of racial [and sexual] identity" (146).

Saturday, February 03, 2007

GLMA Urges FDA to Revise Blood Donation Policy

Current FDA Guidelines Banning Donation by Gay Men Called “Dangerous, Outdated,

SAN FRANCISCO – The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association today called for the
Food and Drug Administration to revise its blood donation policy regarding men
who have sex with men. Within the past year the American Red Cross and other
organizations that collect donated blood, including the American Association of
Blood Banks and America's Blood Centers, have encouraged the FDA to review a
policy in effect since the early 1980s that prohibits men who have sex with men
– regardless of sexual activity, safer-sex practices or HIV status – from
donating blood. The groups say that the likelihood of receiving a unit of
HIV-infected blood is one in two million and that blood banks use nucleic acid
testing, which detects HIV and hepatitis earlier and much more accurately than
older testing methods.

GLMA Executive Director Joel Ginsberg stated, “Two decades ago, when the agent
that causes AIDS was unknown, these guidelines might have made sense based on
the very limited data available at that time. Today, however, all donated units
of blood are tested, not just for antibodies to HIV, but for the presence of the
virus itself. These guidelines, which prohibit any man who has had sex with
another man since 1977, have the effect of excluding all gay men from donating
blood.” Ginsberg continued that the epidemiology of the HIV epidemic has changed
and that heterosexual women are now the fastest-growing demographic group to be
diagnosed with HIV infection.

“Rational blood donation guidelines need to be founded upon the best
evidence-based science and the behavior of individuals, not upon archaic data
and preconceptions about groups of people. The FDA’s current guidelines imply
that gay men are the primary agents for the spread of HIV, while giving
heterosexuals a false sense of security about their sexual behavior and
responsibility. These are two very dangerous messages for the FDA to be
reinforcing,” Ginsberg concluded. “We urge the FDA to revise these outdated
and unscientific blood donation guidelines immediately.”

– 30 –

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA) is the world's largest
association of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) healthcare
professionals. For 25 years, GLMA has been working to ensure equality in health
care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and healthcare
professionals through advocacy, education, research and referrals.



Edited by Giovanni Porfido (Durham) and Róisín Ryan-Flood (Uni of Essex)Special issue call for papersPapers are invited for a special issue of the journal Sexualities on thetopic 'Intimate Visions: Sexuality, Representation and Visual Culture'.Recent decades have witnessed an increase in images of lesbian, gay,bisexual and transgendered people in popular culture. Groundbreakingshows such as Ellen and Queer as Folk led the way for the mainstreamingof hitherto excluded identities and intimacies. This special issue seeksto explore the implications of this expansion of visual regimes.Questions are raised regarding the politics of this cultural visibility.For example, what kinds of intimacies are created, assumed and curtailed?How do these images influence the formation of subjectivities? Do theyaffect heteronormative notions of the public and the private? Whatspatial dynamics do they suggest? Do such images reconfigure prevailingunderstandings of intimacy? What erasures do they signify? Finally, whatchallenges, achievements and dilemmas do they represent? Contributionsthat address the following topics are particularly welcome:'race'/ethnicity, butch lesbians, commodification, parenting, queerteens.

Papers should be submitted in the standard Sexualities format[] by March 31st 2007 to:
Dr. Róisín Ryan-Flood
Department of Sociology
University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park
Colchester C04 3SQ
Tel.: +44-(0)1206 873551
Email: rflood @

Thursday, February 01, 2007

CFP: Race and Video Games (2/16/07; (dis)junctions, 4/6/07-4/7/07)

Race and Video Games

This call for papers is for a proposed panel to be held at =
(dis)junctions 2007: Malappropriation Nation, the University of =
California Riverside's 14th Annual Humanities Graduate Conference on =
April 6-7, 2007.=20

This panel will explore race and video games with the intention of =
mapping out some of the more pressing critical issues surrounding the =
inclusion or exclusion of race in games. The game industry and game =
studies are both interesting and exciting, but the discourse on race has =
been sparse and focused primarily on forms of reductive representation. =
Therefore, this panel is dedicated to critical works that push beyond a =
focus on representation. Panelists are sought that attempt to describe =
and analyze the visualization and political implications of race in =
games and game cultures.

Potential contributions may involve, but are not limited to, some of the =
following concepts:

1. Excessiveness
2. Invisibility/Visibility=20
3. Minstrelsy
4. Political economy of games
5. Racial performance/passing
6. Logics of race at the interface and beyond
7. Default whiteness
8. Token representation
9. Blackness, Asianness, etc.
10. Masculinity and race
11. Race and gender
12. Orientalism
13. Character creation
14. Race in game design
15. Language issues
16. Cultural borrowing
17. Commodification

Submissions are encouraged that deal with any game, platform, genre, =
theme, or era, as well as any aspect of game culture itself (fan =
networks, review sites, manuals, peripherals, and so on).

Additionally, submissions that deal with race from different global =
perspectives are of great interest.

Abstracts of 250-300 words should be e-mailed to Tanner Higgin at = by February 16, 2007 (text in the body of the message; =
please no attachments).=20