Internet, Coloniality and Environment: Technology, Economic Commensurability of Diversity, and Ich’el ta muk’

Rodrigo Liceaga, Associated Research Fellow, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, México

This article questions the assumption of the Internet as a human right and of technology as fundamental for everyday life through inquiring into the relation between capitalism, technology and coloniality. By drawing on a postcolonial approach to the constitution of a European/Western subject and bridging postcolonial studies and political ecology, the article analyses how and to what extent coloniality, capitalism and technology might be intertwined. The main argument is that the Internet as we know it and expect it to mediate everyday life is grounded on capitalism and coloniality as socio-ecological regimes embedded in technological devices. The use of the Internet by the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico, is analysed to demonstrate how their alternative use of the Internet redefines some of the basic traits of this technology’s expansion but also how the use of these devices and assemblages reproduces coloniality even when applied to activism and social transformation. Finally, the article looks more deeply into both the socio-ecological constitution of technology and other ways of understanding human and non-human beings; in this instance, using Tseltal and Tsotsil knowledge –constituent of the Maya roots of Zapatismo in Chiapas– and the idea of ich’el ta muk’ (recognition-respect) to explore different perspectives to the one offered by capitalism and coloniality from which “non-technological” socio-ecological relations and communities can emerge.

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