Connecting Weblog to Research Interests

‘Internetizing’ the indigenous

My research project aims to explore how information communication technologies (ICTs) re-define and re-shape traditional ecological knowledge, or native ways of knowing. Drawing upon recent critical studies of ICTs, I will question the myth of ICTs’ cultural neutrality and suggest a critical approach to the increasing ‘internetization’ of indigenous knowledge. In particular, my project focuses on the way in which the Internet re-organizes indigenous knowledge systems, while ‘deceiving’ the users about its cultural bias.

Inspired by Howe (1998)’s and Bowers et al (2000)’s view on the Internet as a deceptive technology, the project would find that the Internet is increasingly shaping the way in which indigenous communities are represented, interpreted, and imagined by others and even by indigenous people themselves.

My research question is two-folds.  

1) How can the Internet-based ways of knowing be compared with indigenous ways of knowing?
The Internet tends to enhance dis-embodied experiences in virtual space, disconnecting the users from their physical places and sensory experiences. The Internet-based way of knowing can be compared with indigenous knowledge in many aspects.

2) How would the Internet challenge and re-shape indigenous knowledge systems? What would be power relations behind the increasing ‘internetization’ of indigenous knowledge?
Given the increasing and unavoidable introduction of the Internet into indigenous communities, it would be necessary to examine the cultural implication of internet-based ways of knowing in indigenous knowledge systems. Furthermore, I like to explore how the tension between the Internet-based and indigenous ways of knowing can be negotiated.

Bearing this research focus in mind, I will search online and offline sources throughout the course. My weblog will focus on the following three areas.

– The nature and characteristics of indigenous knowledge.
– Limitation and cultural bias of the Internet.
– The influence of the Internet on indigenous knowledge systems.

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