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Full Access Revisiting the Emancipatory Potential of Digital Media in Asia – Introduction to the Inaugural Issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia

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Revisiting the Emancipatory Potential of Digital Media in Asia – Introduction to the Inaugural Issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia

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AbstractThis introduction to the inaugural issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia reviews the debates about the impact that digital media have on culture, society, economics, and politics. The ubiquity of digital technology in various parts of the world has prompted questions about whether the ability to connect on a near-global scale with potentially billions of users has an emancipatory or even democratizing effect. In other words: are personal computers, smartphones, tablet computers, mobile gaming devices, and the digital infrastructure of the Internet ‘liberation technologies’? This introduction examines arguments by both optimists and pessimists, and argues that in order to overcome simple dichotomies in the study of digital media, we need to study such media in the diverse social and historical contexts in which they are situated. The review further showcases the five research papers that comprise this special issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia, each of which provides an insightful study of the diverse ways in which ict have been deployed by citizens in different Asian contexts to profoundly shaped social, cultural, and political processes. What the discussion shows, is the need for academics to rethink how they can fruitfully explore the challenges and opportunities that digital media present in various contexts, and how they can contribute innovative theories, useful approaches, and much needed ‘reality checks’ to ongoing public discourse.

Affiliations: 1: Leiden Universityf.a.schneider@hum.leidenuniv.nl; 2: Leiden Universityc.goto-jones@phil.leidenuniv.nl

10.1163/22142312-12340002
/content/journals/10.1163/22142312-12340002
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AbstractThis introduction to the inaugural issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia reviews the debates about the impact that digital media have on culture, society, economics, and politics. The ubiquity of digital technology in various parts of the world has prompted questions about whether the ability to connect on a near-global scale with potentially billions of users has an emancipatory or even democratizing effect. In other words: are personal computers, smartphones, tablet computers, mobile gaming devices, and the digital infrastructure of the Internet ‘liberation technologies’? This introduction examines arguments by both optimists and pessimists, and argues that in order to overcome simple dichotomies in the study of digital media, we need to study such media in the diverse social and historical contexts in which they are situated. The review further showcases the five research papers that comprise this special issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia, each of which provides an insightful study of the diverse ways in which ict have been deployed by citizens in different Asian contexts to profoundly shaped social, cultural, and political processes. What the discussion shows, is the need for academics to rethink how they can fruitfully explore the challenges and opportunities that digital media present in various contexts, and how they can contribute innovative theories, useful approaches, and much needed ‘reality checks’ to ongoing public discourse.

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2014-01-30
2017-11-21

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