Date of Original Version
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.
Melissa Villa-Nicholas & Miriam E. Sweeney (2020) Designing the “good citizen” through Latina identity in USCIS’s virtual assistant “Emma”, Feminist Media Studies, 20:7, 909-925, DOI: 10.1080/14680777.2019.1644657
Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/14680777.2019.1644657