Spring 2002
ISSN 1473-219X

© Imperium and the contributors 2002

current contents


eCulture texts and urban cultural change in Taiwan: a view through the semiotic lens

Tim French

ABSTRACT: Taiwan today appears to have reached a cultural and political crossroads. The island’s political destiny – ie, continued independence as a nation-state or, alternatively, absorption into greater China – will determine Taiwan’s future cultural identity and also re-define the complex and surprisingly diverse cultural influences which co-exist within the island today. (Copper, 1999) After the resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997 and the return of Macao in 1999, only Taiwan remains just beyond Beijing's reach. Against this complex and enfolding pattern of events, eCulture is identified as a significant internal agent for change, particularly amongst urban populations, where the vast majority of Taiwanese reside. By eCulture is meant widespread access and use of various Internet-mediated forms of discourse, such as e-commerce. This paper discusses the role of eCulture in this context and employs a semiotic approach to identity some specific cultural and technological aspects of eCulture in Taiwan.

Guyana: a visitor’s up-date

Andrew Graham-Yooll

ABSTRACT: Guyana's place in South America offers a potential Latin American experience combined and in ontrast with its English-speaking Caribbean existence. This apparently dual status is exaggerated when the country's colonial heritage is considered; where a mix of Dutch, French and British has to be taken into account. And that can be taken further when Guyana's history of African, Indian and Portuguese indentured labour and Chinese immigration are set against the social and historic backdrop. This paper considers the historical and cultural determinants that shape Guyana today and consider both opportunities and threats to the continued stability of the nation.

Appropriate information technology in developing countries: t
echnology transfer and strategic directions

Leslie Honour

ABSTRACT: Appropriate technologies were originally conceived to consist of those using local resources to meet local needs. However, it has now been widely acknowledged that various forms of complementary or enabling technologies may be used in the pursuit of sustainable development. The expansion of the global internet has been mainly concentrated in industrialised countries and poses the question of cultural imperialism in the developing world. For developing countries, access to and localised control of information and communications technologies can be used towards the harnessing, management and development of resources to meet national and local needs. Community computers in rural telecentres can be used to promote integrated local development initiatives. Many current problems with IT in developing countries are related to the rapid evolution of hardware and software and the perceived necessity of using proprietary products which entail high costs. The training of network administrators is essential in the quest for local control and should include the use of more appropriate and readily available forms of technology such as open source software and operating systems. Such a strategy, with the administrator effectively acting as community gatekeeper, has the potential to provide a more autonomous, sustainable and long term means of achieving nationally and locally defined development goals.

On living in William Cobbett's and Raymond Hoggart's Farnham

Ian Spring

ABSTRACT: This paper searches for the mythical England of warm beer and cricket on the village green in a much-visited corner of leafy Surrey. Through the writings of nineteenth-century innovators such as William Cobbett and George Sturt, the cultural critics Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart, and the letters pages of a local newspaper, the question is addressed: does England still exist?

The English observer: Orwell, Englishness and Empire

Stephen Woodhams

ABSTRACT: The existing literature on George Orwell is considerable and the arguments varied. One approach has been a biographical extension of either a literary or political theme. The effect of such treatment has been what Raymond Williams has referred to as the ‘creation of a character called Orwell who is very different from the writer.’ (Williams, 1979: 385) Starting from that point, this paper follows Williams's suggestion that what is needed is to 'widen the discussion... in other words not Orwell writing but what wrote Orwell.' (Williams, 1979: 388) In taking up this challenge the paper argues that this approach must place England and Empire side by side since Orwell’s conception of one was affected by his perception of the other. More precisely, that to each of these Orwell was, by origin, choice and temperament, an outsider, an observer.

Lucy M Boston's The River at Greene Knowe (1959) or how to 'dip happily' between reality and fantasy

Karen Sayer

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the representation of the Other and issues of hybridity within Lucy Boston’s Green Knowe children’s books, focusing in particular on The River at Green Knowe (1959). These books draw on common-place models of Englishness and childhood, but also ‘alien’ and ‘non-native’ cultures to create a fantastical setting and series of adventures. Within her books are found multiple boundary crossings and an implicit questioning of adult/colonial mapping that enable her to tackle complex and often threatening issues of displacement. It is the contention of this paper that in this way, domestic Englishness and whiteness are (at least implicitly) thrown into question. Far from being a haven from colonialism and its collapse, the countryside becomes the focus of pagan celebrations and abysmal fears:

Postmodern pastoral: resisting (en)closure of rural representation

Martin Conboy

ABSTRACT: This paper employs Adam Thorpe’s novel Ulverton (Thorpe, 1994) to explore aspects of contemporary England through its relationship to its rural past. In so doing, it pays special attention to the pastoral as both a style and a narration of the European sense of belonging and place. In this way, an exploration of literary mode becomes at the same time an investigation of what remains a specific epistemological aspect of the European experience.

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