V Carchidi (Massey University, New Zealand), 'Come Into My Web: Literary Postcolonialism in the Information Technology Age'

Just as education both indoctrinates and provides opportunities, so does Information technology promise a bold new future but at a cost. Literature from Africa and the Caribbean has a rich tradition of exploring the effects of education, from Ngugi wa Thiong'o to Tsitsi Dangarembga and Zee Edgell. Their work demonstrates the difficulties of simply plunging forward into an embrace of "the new" that can usefully be applied to the effects of the "information revolution".

Although nothing might seem better than to seize the tools of the oppressors and turn them against their first agents, the cost of too-eager pursuit of new languages, new technologies can be the loss of the very culture one most wishes to preserve. To take on the new is not an innocent action; it can require the deformation of one's sense of self, and at its furthest extent can lead one to become an agent of the very systems of oppression that one first desired to dismantle. Postcolonialism cannot blithely accept the Euro-American spider's invitation to walk into the World Wide Web.

On the other hand, to ignore or deny the new is no solution, as Achebe has shown. Although sometimes seeming to be the best rejection of threatening developments, pure and simple resistance to the new leads only to a concretization of opposition, with both sides reifying their opponents in an impasse.

Literary theory provides insights through fiction by entering a realm beyond pure abstraction. Characters' negotiations of the traps and opportunities of education reveal the beginnings of a path through the complexities of using the Internet without destroying the grassroots, performance-based strengths of postcolonialism that havez been so effective in recasting questions uttered by Euro-American academic voices. They offer a way forward with care and constant renegotiation.

The full paper.


Abstracts of other papers (by short titles):
Hawaiians in Cyberspace | Becoming Modern | Calligraphy and Dialogics | Virtual Spaces | Internet & English


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