My collaborator, Dr. Melissa Villa-Nicholas, and I are proud to announce that our new article,
"Designing the "good citizen" through Latina identity in USCIS's virtual assistant "Emma", is now published in the online issue of Feminist Media Studies!
This paper marks the first of three projects interrogating various cultural, political, and social aspects of Latina AI. Stay tuned for updates on this research!
*You can learn more about Dr. Melissa Villa-Nicholas's pioneering research on Latinx information histories and practices here!
Virtual assistants are increasingly integrated as “user-friendly” interfaces for e-government services. This research investigates the case study of the virtual assistant, “Emma,” that is integrated into the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. We conduct an interface analysis of Emma, along with the USCIS website, and related promotional materials, to explore the cultural affordances of Latina identity as a strategic design for this virtual assistant. We argue that the Emma interface makes normative claims about citizenship and inclusion in an attempt to “hail” Latinx users as ideal citizens. We find that the “ideal” citizen is defined through the Emma interface as an assimilated citizen-consumer that engages with digital technologies in ways that produce them as informationally “legible” to the state.