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<eyebeam><blast> apolitical technology

After a restless night, olu oguibe wrote:
>i spent all of last night trying to determine whether Bose acoustics
>technology is Bengali, Indian, Third World, or merely a piece of
>Western technology invented by Others ...

Following this fascinating thread about the national, transnational,
technology, and politics, I am wondering if there is a piece of
expressive technology that is so universal (and universally produced)
that its origins no longer matter objectively or subjectively.  Or is it
possible that even the simplest, most taken for granted, most
universally produced, piece of technology, when incorporated into some
aspect of a particular culture, so expresses that culture that we can
read through it the realtive position of that culture in the global

We've talked about Favelas.  Does poor people's housing always look
alike? Oviously not.  However, a number of years ago in Cuba I saw a
series of photos by Brazilian photographer Joao Urbana, showing Polish
and Brazilian peasants in their poor homes.  The point was that it was
nearly impossible to tell them apart.  Their use of color, the crude
wooden walls, the smallness, the catholic imagery and alters made them
look very much the same.  Yet, their relative poverty was clearly
communicated in both cases.

The Internet seems to strip us of our particular cultures.  It nearly
demands a single language of communication.  You only know about me what
I tell you directly or indirectly (use of language, cultural references,
email address, access to a computer and skill to use it). We in the
formerly designated First World can comfortably talk about "democracy"
and "universality" and other such abstractions, because we know that
everyone in the audience is like us or trying to be like us or has to be
like us--relatively upper class, relatively fluent in English, educated,
has access to a computer and knows how to use it.  But we are such an
insignificant portion of the world's population (in more ways than one)!
What we can do for, about, with that other 99% might matter very much.

Finally, my friend Patricia R. Zimmermann and I are organzing a panel on
the national and the transnational with regard to documentary filmmaking
for the August 98 Visible Evidence conference at San Francisco State
University. If you want more info, I can email you the call for papers,
ours and all the rest.

John Hess, Co-Editor
Jump Cut, A Review of Contemporary Media
405 E Street, NE, Washington, DC, 20002
(202) 544-2798/F: 202-544-5076
email:  jhess@igc.apc.org

Visiting Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, University of

"This is about how four percent of the world's people can continue to
22 percent of the world's wealth."

Bill Clinton, arguing for the fast track to NAFTA II, to
the unreceptive
AFL-CIO Convention in Pittsburgh
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