15th Nov2012

Week 12: Borders, Computing, and Empire

by jessicavooris

This week’s readings brought us back to thinking about the nation, and pushed us to think more about boundaries, borders, and flows in an era of Empire and globalization.  Various articles also address the question of language–such as its role in creating the nation state–as well as the act of translation across borders.  Furthermore, we are reminded once again that space and time cannot be separated.  Borders, for example are not only spatial but also temporal.

1. I particularly enjoyed Mezzadra and Neilson’s article and the idea of the border as a method.  They write that a method is both an epistemic view as well as a research process, which in this case, “accounts for and reacts to the multifarious battles and negotiations, not least those concerning race, that constitute the border both as an institution and a set of social relationships.” They brought up many good points around the construction of borders, the fact that they are temporal as well as spatial, and the multiplication and division of labor around borders.   However, I wonder what everyone else thinks about the idea of  border as method? Does it work as more than a metaphor, as they argue they are doing?

2.Like Avery, when I was reading the “Postcolonial Computing” article, I thought of the article I read a few weeks ago about Ethiopian kids learning how to use tablets without any instructions. (Which I had linked to in that week’s post.)   Connecting both the news story and Phillip et al’s article brings up questions of language, design and learning, as well as questions of borders, boundaries, the assumptions that we make about “us” versus “them” and knowledge around computing.  Also, how can we read headlines around this experiment such as MSNBC’s “Ethiopian kids turn out to be computer geniuses in tablet trial” in relation to Phillip et al’s discussion around innovation and “native knowledge?” (IE: “Tactic 3, Corrollary: When we see an instance of indigenous science or ‘native’ technology we investigate it not as an instance of inherent difference or autochthonous authenticity but as a practice with the same epistemological status as putatively Western sciences.”)

3. The definition of Empire in the preface of Negri and Hardt and its lack of boundaries and ahistorical nature made me think about whether there is a difference between boundaries and borders and the operation of both.  What does it mean for Empire to in practice be “bathed in blood” while always being “dedicated to peace” in terms of the multiplication of labor and “battles and negotiations” that Mezzadra and Neilson’s article brings attention to in terms of borders?

Space: bound by concepts of borders, which are spatial as well as temporal, distinctions drawn around nation states and related to the flow of people, goods, and labor.

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