Summary by Alicia Izharuddin (@angrymalaywoman)
•Maria Fernandezʼs article is about the apparent absence of postcolonial theory in electronic media practice, theory, and criticism. Her article traces the opposing directions that postcolonial theory and media theory each take.
•Postcolonial theory is concerned with the far-reaching legacy of colonialism and imperialism that oppress its subjects while media theory has gone through a phase of utopian ideals of world peace and widespread democracy through advanced media use.
•Fernandez appears to be suspicious of any reconciliation of the two theoretical strands at first, as media practitioners speak of humanitarian universalisms and global interconnections that have come to replace latter imperialist rhetoric.
•But more pressingly, colonialism is connected to electronic media as they are incorporated into global markets of much of the world and societies that can afford connectivity.
•Fernandez is also interested in the work of electronic media artists who claim their work promote universal understanding between virtual strangers. But how transparent and egalitarian is electronic media art when access to money, infrastructure and competency in English belong to a small privileged few?
•Although the production and distribution of media technologies emerge from developing nations and often under unfair practices, the political economy of media technologies may one day benefit imperialist subjects in the same manner books, once the tools of colonial projects, became crucial to the construction of identity of colonised subjects.
•There are possible productive meeting points for postcolonial theory and media theory, namely the body.
•Postcolonial theory is preoccupied with the body as the site of colonial inscription. Electronic media theory of the virtual body suggests that in the Internet age, the corporeal will be replaced by code and transferable virtual information. Both share the notion of fluidity and incoherence of identities.
•But tropes of oppression that preoccupy postcolonial theory are rarely tackled in electronic media theory because of the latterʼs white middle bias and electronic mediaʼs lack of physicality of its users.
1. Fernandezʼs article was written in 1999, and with the speed of technological progress, its commentary on the potential of media theory to reconcile with postcolonial theory may be rendered obsolete. What do you are the contemporary issues that would better define postcolonial media theory today?
2. How can we better understand postcolonial media theory today when powerful global media corporations and technological development originate and/or located in postcolonial states such as South Korea and India?
3. Consider critical DH as an approach in postcolonial media theory and discuss whether the meta discourse around recovering and preserving postcolonial narratives is complicit in the hegemonic and imperialistic discourse of academia.