rough notes

kultural imperialism

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sometimes i just can’t help myself. this week, in my favourite class, “interruptions and interactions with the mba’s”, i had brought up the evil words “cultural imperialism.” there was a bit of a discussion on the go about the how great – or how evil – the One Laptop Per Child programme was, and I had to state the case that perhaps Western tech is not the answer and that developed nations may not necessarily be jonesing for, even if no one else was going to. i really wish the mba’s were into this one, but they couldn’t care less for the subject since it had nothing to do with risk management or ROI. oh, those kids..

anyway, I don’t want to go far into the details, but I do want to say I see the merits of a programme such as OLPC, and I won’t dispute them (too much). Also, i’m aware of the elitism inherent in western arguments developed for western thinkers such as, “Giving laptops to children in developing nations is a form of cultural imperialism” (i.e. the very argument reinforces the dichotomy and widens the gap between cultures, not to mention the digital divide), and i’m more than aware that one can’t ever bridge the development gap by holding steadfast to the idea that “our western culture is bad therefore we shouldn’t export its wares”. however, in a lecture preaching all the merits of OLPC and how it will change the world for all these little kids (who might be worried more about basic life necessities like a glass of water than they might be about their facebook wall), some one out there who can see things the other way needs to speak up and broach the subject…

it was really nice, therefore, to watch two other classmates take the microphone after me and begin their comments with, “I agree with Mitch…” After getting past that moment of self-indulgence when all my thoughts veered to just how awesome i really am, I realized that perhaps i did the right thing after all by stating the case, even if that case is flawed. Because in the end all of the cases are flawed, and I don’t think many people realize this. That’s something I’ve always resented about the classroom. And I’m a little disappointed to see that rather than being alleviated at the graduate level, it has actually been reinforced. we need more people willing to disagree, and to disagree passionately to our great ideas. without that disagreement, without that dialogue, our arguments turn to dogma and tautology.

so. yay to criticism.

Written by mitchellirons

November 21, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Posted in blog

Tagged with , , ,

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