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The complex role of oriental tropes in such modernist imaginings of urban spaces prefigures the prominent role Orientalism—particularly visions of East Asia—will play in the imagining of the postmodern city. In works of science fiction such as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner or William Gibson’s Neuromancer, cities of the postmodern future are placed in Asia or in an orientalized America, characterized by freewheeling commercial and cultural exchange and interracial contact. The postmodern city of science fiction, while sharing some of the attributes of the globalized, transnational, borderless space of postmodernity apotheosized in the notion of “cyberspace,” remains racialized and marked (however superficially) by history, exposing the degree to which Western conceptions of postmodernity are built upon continuing fantasies of—and anxieties about—the Orient.

Timothy Yu (University of Toronto)