Race & Media Conference 2016

Kent Ono, University of Utah

Representation Today, Tomorrow, and Forever?: The Vexed Ontology of an Iconic Media Concept

What must it be like to be the concept, "representation"? On most days, representation is everywhere - on the streets, in parlors, on the subway, and even sometimes when astronauts leave Earth, in space. Representation is a friend to everyone and no one at the same time. Representation gets linked to so many unfortunate characters, such as misinterpretation, deceit, and even during presidential season, lies. But in an era of "Black Lives Matter" and too-frequent North Korean missile launches, is the term that Stuart Hall referred to as having a "burden" a burden itself. Is it overworked, overused, or simply too much trouble? For those studying Race and Media, such questions have profound significance and consequences. If newspaper articles about Driving While Brown and Black cannot be discussed in terms of representation, if it has become too burdensome a concept, what then becomes of the role of social critique? And, what are the options for social change?



Kent A. Ono is Professor in and Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. Professor Ono conducts critical and theoretical research of print, film, and television media, specifically focusing on representations of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation. He has contributed articles to numerous journals including: Communication Monographs, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Communication Inquiry, Western Journal of Communication, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Amerasia Journal, and Journal of Asian American Studies.

He has authored Contemporary Media Culture and the Remnants of a Colonial Past (Peter Lang, 2009). Also, in addition to co-authoring Asian Americans and the Media with Vincent Pham (Polity 2009) and Shifting Borders: Rhetoric, Immigration, and California’s Proposition 187 with John Sloop (Temple University Press, 2002), he has co-edited Critical Rhetorics of Race with Michael Lacy (New York University Press, 2011) and Enterprise Zones: Critical Positions on Star Trek with Taylor Harrison, Sarah Projansky, and Elyce Helford (Westview Press, 1996) and has edited Asian American Studies after Critical Mass (Blackwell, 2005) and A Companion to Asian American Studies (Blackwell, 2005).

Ono directed the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2002-2007. He also directed the Cultural Studies Program at the University of California at Davis from 1999-2002. He founded the Asian American Cultural Politics Research Cluster at UC Davis in 1997. He wrote the proposal to create the journal, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. He helped propose, organize and chair the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of NCA from 2000-2001; chaired the Asian Pacific American Caucus of NCA in 1996-1997; co-chaired the Asian Pacific American Caucus of the Society for Cinema Studies (1999-2001); and has planned several conferences.