Postcoloniality, Information Technologies, and Embracing Hybridity

George P Landow (National University of Singapore)

Information technology offers an effective and appropriate way to approach the complexities of postcoloniality -- appropriate, first of all, because colonizers brought print technology, the printed book, and the literary forms associated with it to any colonized territory. Carlyle once wrote what has since become a truism: gunpowder and the printing press destroyed feudalism. As many postcolonial novels show, the export of these two technologies, both early examples of heavily capitalized modern techno-production, devoured cultures outside Europe as well. The novel is simultaneously the literary genre that realizes some central characteristics of printing technology, and such a powerful thought-form that debating about the language in which a postcolonial novelist writes a novel seems beside the point.

Digital information technology illuminates postcolonial issues, such as hybridity, border-crossing, and ethnicity, in a different way: in the digital text, as in the postcolonial nation, borders are obviously provisional, temporary, arbitrary, and occasionally a matter of existential choice. In the docuverse that is e-space, border crossing, hybridity, and rapidly reconfigured centers are the rule. In fact, if the printing press and the printed book illuminate key aspects of colonialism, hypertext does the same for postcolonial situations.

Postcolonial OV discourseov Casablanca Conference

Last modified: 7 May 2001