Transnational technology and the death of the other : an essay about Khmers in cyberspace
Siren, Tyrone Wayne
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Throughout this essay, I attempt to come to terms with anthropology as an human science. I look at it as both an empirical and theoretical discipline, discussing the role anthropology should play in an age of transnational culture and media technologies. First, I discuss contemporary theoretical anthropology, describing its philosophical motivations and associations-a topic that is all too neglected in anthropological theory, as if theoreticians are not in the social nexus and philosophical milieu of their time. I begin with hermeneutics and then describe the postmodern reaction to it. However, I critique the postmodernists for being even more arrogant than past anthropologists. Postmodernists are so ensconced in their own theories that they forget that there is a real world with real people. I attempt to make this point through irony. I discuss how Cambodian-Transnationals construct virtual identities, communities, and cultures using the latest media technology-cyberspace. I use virtual data to develop a theory of "display" which shifts intentionality from anthropologists, who traditionally describe or interpret culture, to the culture itself, allowing it to express itself without the aid of anthropological theory. Thus, anthropologists will no longer interpret culture; culture will display itself to the anthropologist. This move can be made only after anthropologists stop projecting theories onto cultures, and begin to let cultures present themselves to the world as they see themselves, not as anthropologists sees them. This is the only way that anthropology can work its way out of, what Spiro calls, "the intellectual ghetto of social science" (1992:144).