THE UNDERSIDE OF TECHNOLOGY: LIFECYCLES OF LIBERACIÓN IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Keywords:imagined infrastructures, analectics, global south, migration, emotional labor, monolithic
AbstractIn The Underside of Modernity: Apel, Ricoeur, Rorty, Taylor, and the Philosophy of Liberation (1996), Enrique Dussel prescribes a philosophical pushback to what Eduardo Mendieta calls the ‘discourses of Modernity.’ Emanating from the global south, as both proximate and philosophical situations, Dussel elegantly unravels a metaphysical prescription of Modernity as the blueprint of empire articulated via political, religious, and cultural hegemonic universality. The goal is to reimagine the ethics of liberation outside of Modernity’s stranglehold on philosophy. Dussel’s thesis is simple: resistance to dominant hegemonic frames which center Western Modernity as that which must be repelled passively accepts those frames as a starting point. In other words, framing resistance as negation (i.e., postmodernism) upholds a binary of dominance/resistance wherein the myth of Modernity remains dialectically centered. What Dussel advocates for is a lens enabling us “...to stand outside the reality within which we live in order to critically understand it” (Burton & Osario, 2011, p. 26). To this end, he proposes a ‘transmodern’ position that privileges practices of the ‘Other’—on outskirts of the Modern colonial scheme—as focal points of liberation philosophy. In his ‘analectic’ method, Dussel decenters the Modern as a starting point of investigation and/or resistance, privileging the material realities of the ‘Other’ as locus of cultural knowledge. In the vein of decolonial inquiry, the ‘Other’ is of the anterior of hegemonic frames, a subject on/of the outskirts that, when face-to-face with dominant hegemony, presents a new way of understanding systems, universalities (which Dussel believes exist, just not as prescribed by Modernity), and the very prescription of the Modern subject. In defining liberation as praxis, the analectic method accounts for the complex realities of the colonized as targets of, and transgressors to, systems of colonization, depending upon material context. Our panel draws inspiration from the analectical approach and includes papers that elucidate the material realities of Otherness on the underside of technology. In an age of technological globalization tethered to neoliberal market principles, we argue that approaching questions of technological expansionism via traditional ‘discourses of technology’ that perpetuate the dominance/resistance binary is insufficient if the aim of decolonizing the internet, the systems which support it, and the artefacts which connect us to it is to be achieved. By focusing instead on individual acts of resistance to totalizing technological systems, we investigate the complexities of living within the landscape of technological hegemony from the lens of the user. From migrants of the global south who both rely upon, and transgress, mobile technologies and the critical infrastructure which supports it, to everyday consumers of technology that often universalize and therefore industrialize lived experiences, the metaphor of existing within and simultaneously reacting to systems of colonization persists. Specifically, we clarify the lifecycle of technological expansionism, from the act of occupation to individual acts of resistance in specific panel presentations that discuss: - Imagined infrastructures of the ‘smart’ (neo-colonial) city. - The push and pull of maintaining Latinx identity within homogeneous digital platforms. - The emotional and physical labor of Asian American women in countering Western narratives which totalize “Asian” identity as monolithic. - The South American migrant experience as dependent upon and reactionary to critical infrastructure. - Corporeal memorialization as resistance to industrialized memory. Each panel topic identifies technological systems, platforms, and/or infrastructures as modern-day instantiations of colonialism as a basis of investigation. For example, multiple papers clarify technological systems and infrastructures as conduits of cultural imperialism, evident in global urban transformation projects and the industrialization of memory, while others query the role of platform affordances in perpetuating inequity and encouraging monolithic identity. As pushback to this totalization, multiple papers highlight the liminal experience of ‘Otherness,’ caught between the tensions of material reality and the opacity of dominant technological systems that often shape, steer, and ultimately universalize human experience. Centering the lens of the individual, we investigate the necessary utility of global technologies (the ‘realities within which we live’) while articulating how actual experience with, and consumption of, these technologies by those on the periphery (those who ‘stand outside’ that reality) can inform a critical understanding of their socio-technical impact. These research topics identify the importance and relevance of decolonial philosophy as a primary framework for understanding the path to liberation from the enveloping forces of global technological systems. In encouraging an analectic, transmodern approach to questions of technological hegemony, we decenter the discourses of Modernity, and by extension the circular dominance/resistance feedback loop which informs much traditional critical scholarship. This panel offers a glimpse from the outskirts, from the periphery of the colonial horizon, situating praxis as foundational to clarifying our socio-technical ontologies. References Burton, M., & Osorio, J. M. F. (2011). Introducing Dussel: The philosophy of liberation and a really social psychology. Psychology in Society, (41), 20-39.
How to Cite
O’Connell, C., Van De Wiele, C., Garcia, M., Ferris Dobles, M., & Macon, J. (2023). THE UNDERSIDE OF TECHNOLOGY: LIFECYCLES OF LIBERACIÓN IN THE DIGITAL AGE. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2022i0.12963