Cyber-Proletariat and the New Subaltern Space
This research examines the condition of what has been called cyber-proletariat and the emergence of new subaltern spaces in globalised contemporary capitalism. It does so by engaging with the life of Tian Yu, who was 17-years-old when she worked as an iPad assembly worker at Foxconn in Shenzhen, China. In 2010, only 37 days into her first employment, Tian Yu attempted suicide. Shenzhen and the surrounding Pearl River Delta region are located in China’s Guangdong Province north of Hong Kong and are known as the “workshop of the world”, due to the industrialisation in the 1980s, as well as the technological industries whose recent rise has been linked with processes of migration and rural depopulation.
By investigating China’s socio-techno-economic development and its relation to cybernetic capital, this research recognises the constitution of a new subaltern space. This space is further examined by engaging with the singularity of Tian Yu’s life, and through a reading of her suicide attempt as an act of resistance. Two lines of enquiry are of central importance in this context: first, an enquiry into the formation and conditions of the cyber-proletariat by analysing the relation of cybernetic capital and class; and second, a discussion of the contemporary production of new subaltern spaces. This project takes Spivak’s ‘to be removed from the lines of social mobility’ as the point of departure for the recognition of Tian Yu’s subalternity. Given that departure, the research analyses the processes of suablternisation and proletarianisation through singularity with a view of machinic conditioning of the cyber-proletariat.