REFLECTION: Who is in Charge of The Future of The Internet?

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

I’m currently reading a paper entitled “Bottom of the Data Pyramid: Big Data and the Global South” (2016) by non-white / Indian female, Payal Arora, Associate Professor, Department of Media & Communication Faculty of History, Culture and Communication at Erasmus University Rotterdam. The paper is available (in PDF format) here.

On her blog, The 3L Mantra to live by! A mashup of Labor, Leisure & Learning, Arora describes herself as follows:

Payal Arora - About Me.jpg

Suffice to say, I was not too impressed with this rather auto-Orientalising self-description, nor with the following TED presentation she delivered:

Interested and discerning Counter-Racist / decolonial viewers are invited to consider:

  1. how she frames the relation between the non-white / non-Western ‘periphery’ and the white / Western ‘core’ of the modern/colonial world system of global White Supremacy (Racism) in terms of ‘the poor’ and ‘the rich’, i.e. in race-less / de-raced / un-raced economistic terms.
  2. how she assimilates peripheral / Oriental behaviours to (tacitly universalised) core / Occidental behaviours by first talking about the history of ‘leisure’ in a (19th Century) European / Western class-based context, and then projecting categories (leisure and labour) from the core to the periphery on the post-colonial (sic) basis that “they are like us”. Who is this us that this non-white female is associating herself (and other non-white people) with / assimilating herself (and other non-white) to?

While it might appear that such a move is intended to overcome a legacy of colonial ‘othering’ which sees ‘them’ as essentially different to ‘us’, it is important to appreciate that this is being attempted by appealing to Eurocentric / West-centric norms. In short, her project is one of (neo)liberal inclusion within (covertly racialised yet overtly race-less) capitalist logics.

I would suggest that Arora’s discourse is postcolonial rather than decolonial, being economistically-framed in terms of inclusive capitalism. She completely fails to understand the intrinsically racialised nature of capitalist logics of accumulation, something that the late black Marxist scholar Cedric Robinson discussed in detail, as have critical race and decolonial scholars more recently.

Ultimately, while Arora’s critique of Big Data / datafication is useful, it is limited, and as to the question ‘Who is in Charge of The Future of The Internet?’, does that question really need to be asked?



LINK: Political Ideology as Religion

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Those interested in the subject of political theology, in particular Islamic political theology as articulated, for example, by Wael Hallaq in his recent The Impossible State (2013), are invited to consider the following essay by non-white male Maxwell O. Chibundu, Professor of Law at University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law:

Political Ideology as a Religion: The Idolatry of Democracy

University of Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 117-157, Spring 2006.

Here is the abstract:

In contemporary international law and politics, the invocation of the term “democracy” transcends both objective description and ritual symbolism. Normatively, it is deployed to delineate the good society from the pariah state. Prescriptively, it is employed to shun and coerce foes into preferred policies. In this article, I reflect on the ways in which contemporary liberalism’s faith and commitment to “democracy” have become akin to those that classically are associated with religion. By tracing the roots, rise and spread of democracy to the demands of an essentially European middle-class engaged in industrialization, commerce and colonization, and by relating that history to its current unquestioning deployment in legal and political centers of power as an universal dogma that confers benediction or absolution to friends and damnation to enemies, the essay seeks to spur some reflection on the power and force of the concept. The preliminary reflections undertaken in this essay suggests that, as is often the case with most sociological concepts, democracy’s sphere of authority, if it is to be sustained and made relevant, ultimately must be constantly revised and limited by the needs of the society over which it is intended to preside.


BOOKS: The Racial State and The Threat of Race

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Books by David Theo Goldberg

Interested readers can download copies (PDF format) of The Racial State (2002) and The Threat of Race: Reflections on Racial Neoliberalism (2008) by white South-African male and critical race theorist, David Theo Goldberg, by clicking on the respective links to these two important works.


BOOK: Defiant Publics by Daniel Drache

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Check out:

Defiant Publics: The Unprecedented Reach of the Global Citizen (Polity Press: 2008) by Daniel Drache, Professor of Political Science at York University and Associate Director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies.

Here’s a brief summary of the book taken from Drache’s York University website with counter-Racist insertions at the appropriate place:

It examines the new power dynamics feeding off distrust and suspicion of governments, and assisted by the new cultural flows of people, ideas and information. The big story of the new millennium is that dissenters, activists and new social movements have begun to rescue the idea of the public from the economic determinism of the Washington Consensus world order [=WS/R]. These market oriented policies framed public policy in the 80s and 90s and were synonymous with structural adjustment, aggressive privatization, public deregulation. With the catastrophic collapse [=opportunity for functional systemic refinement ] of financial capitalism it has changed the debate for a generation.

This book should be read in the context of others, including the following:

  1. Western Supremacy: The Triumph of an Idea? by Sophie Bessis (Zed Books: 2001).
  2. Unravelling Global Apartheid: An Overview of World Politics by Titus Alexander (Polity Press: 1996).
  3. The No-Nonsense Guide to Globalization by Wayne Ellwood (Verso: 2001).
  4. The White Man’s Burden: Why The West’s Efforts to Aid The Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good by William Easterly (Oxford University Press: 2006).
  5. Poverty From The Wealth of Nations: Integration and Polarization in the Global Economy since 1760 by M. Shahid Alam (Macmillan: 2001).

You can download a copy of the Introduction to Drache’s book from here.