Author: sarahbib

Cultural Studies @ Concordia University

Remote Areas and Internet Cafés

By Sarah Bibeau

When I first read the instruction of this last blog post, I immediately thought of Internet accessibility and media literacy. For us in university, having access to computers and a reliable Internet connection seems to be taken for granted. Indeed, as part of the curriculum, students are expected to interact amongst each other on the web as part of their participation grade (as it is the case in this class), which is great because it enables us to foster web based community; we are all participating in the creation of this space, where it is possible to freely exchange ideas and thoughts relevant to the class. Today, students are also expected to hand their assignments either by email or via other platforms such as Moodle or PBWorks. That is to say, computers and Internet accessibility is something taken for granted in a school environment, especially at the university level, where computers and any other electronic devices is easily accessible on the campus.

However, it is not the case everywhere; for instance, in Northern Canada, First People have been experiencing issues of accessibility since the beginning of the TV broadcasting. I think that this could be related to Lefebvre’s question about who are the ones creating the maps; Internet accessibility involves aspects of ownership, the physical delivery network itself, and the actual overlay of the web; who are the ones deciding to install/provide Internet for remote communities or such and such areas? Who is/are the main provider(s) and who decides to set up the tariffs? These are all questions that we must keep in mind when talking about the Internet because although being very inclusive – since you can be who you are or be who you want to be, and create special bonds with people online –  the Internet is also highly exclusive. Specific bodies are excluded from such spaces because of their geographic position, for economic reasons, and also by means of literacy; for instance, some elderly people don’t know how to use the Internet.

At the international level, in countries such as China and Ghana, there exists Internet cafés where the Internet represents different things for its users and also helps to bring a community together. In the case of Ghana, people over there don’t all have an Internet connection at home; instead, they gather in Internet cafés in order to access a computer and create bonds with foreign contacts via Yahoo or MSM Messenger. I believe that creating online communities also depends on the space you occupy offline. In Ghana, many Internet users are trying to get in touch with the “external world” by playing some games on eBay that they made up in their web based community in Ghana; the first one who receives something by mail from eBay wins. Some of them also create fake profiles in order to get in touch with people in North America: “sometimes when you mention your name and you mention Ghana they just say ‘fuck you” (Burrell 61). I think that this kind of behavior from North American Internet users reinforces the divide between the Western world and Africa, the divide between “us” and “the others”. I also think that it would be possible to relate to Debord’s concept of détournement. Indeed, through MSN Messenger, Yahoo, and eBay, people in Ghana have played with the unwritten rules of the Internet and have created games which challenged the way people usually use such platforms, and also fostered their own web community.

Finally, in China, the Internet cafés are used as private spaces by youth who are trying to escape authority figures (parents, teachers, government). It is possible to relate to this idea of public/private space since this café is supposed to be a public space where anyone could meet, but their Internet use is highly regulated by the government who monitors what they are doing on the computer and interrupts them (via online messages) when it is not considered appropriate. These internet Cafés in China serve as social places for being online, of course, but they are also really important in trying to escape (part of) the authority; so, I think it also has something to do with phenomenology, where being in a particular space is related to one’s sensorial and lived experience.

Sources:

Fengshu Liu. (2009). It is not merely about life on the screen: urban Chinese youth and the Internet café. Journal of Youth Studies 12(2): 167-184.

Guy  Debord. (1959) ‘Détournement as Negation and Prelude’, Bureau of Public Secrets.

Jenna Burrell (2012). Invisible Users: Youth in Internet Cafés of Urban Ghana. Cambridge Mass: MIT Press.

Lefebvre, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Roth, Lorna. “Canadian First People’s Mediascapes: Reframing a Snapshot with Three Corners” in Mediascapes; New Patterns in Canadian Communication. Ed. Leslie Regan Shade. 4th Edition. (Nelson: University of Toronto, 2010), 364-389. Print.

Creating New Worlds For Us to Exist

By Sarah, Anna, Lisa, Cathleen and Devon

sphinxThis week, we are addressing the theories of some scholars that have attempted to create new worlds for us to exist. Elizabeth Wilson’s chapter “Into the Labyrinth,” provides a critique of post-modern urban life – discussing how the city has traditionally been a place of both liberation and persecution towards women and re-tracing the history of anti-urbanism to highlight its historical linkage to a distrust, or distaste, for the female gender. Wilson argues that the
popular sophisticated urban consciousness of the 20th century, that of Walter Benjamin’s Parisian Flaneur, was an essentially male state of being – rendering a  woman’s presence within the cityscape foreign, unwelcome and even politically dangerous. Wilson rejects the mythic notion of the city as a labyrinth: a winding path with only one beginning and end, at the center of which is a frightening spectacle – a spectacle which Wilson argues has traditionally been associated with stereotypical feminine characteristics (sexuality, hysteria, instability etc.) Instead, Wilson asserts that the city is always in a flux, offering different layers of meaning and experience depending on the individual.

cyborgIn the same order or ideas, through “A Cyborg Manifesto”, Haraway attempts to create a different world; a space where gender would be absent. This new space would help to re-articulate and to regenerate the existing structures of our society; the structures that have been in place for so many years and that keep perpetuating the same order. This manifesto is an attempt to disarticulate these discourses and provide a new space (mostly in the feminist discourse) for the re-articulation of ideas in relation to gender, sexuality and space. She touches upon the concept of the cyborg – a human with machine components that help to extend past human limitations – and argues that we are all cyborgs. Indeed, using technology as extensions of the mind, rather than tools as extensions of the body, cyborgs are seen as allies to humans. We believe that Haraway’s manifesto can be extended to Lefebvre, in a way that our sense of being in the world comes from our ideologies, our politics, and cyborgs. This sense of being in the world has been oppressive thus far for women and other marginalized groups; but there is hope for possibility of moving past Freudian mythologies.

Finally, the film Sun Ra, Space is Place (1974) personifies how white stereotypical beliefs of Black People living on Earth are dealt with. In the film they say that Black People are the myth of the Earth and should be taken away.  The characters and music in particular demonstrates the use of culture as fuel to move things forward and ahead in time; a way of moving. Music is a way of creating a body in time and also in space; an identity which we believe can be comparable to the student protests of 2012 and how people formed an identity in space through the sounds and coherent music of pots and pans.     

 

Questions:

1) Do you think there is such thing as a modern day Flaneur – an entirely neutral individual who can travel through space and time inconspicuously, or have modern technical constructs (google maps, social media etc.) and urban planning made it impossible to go anywhere unnoticed or entirely unplanned.

2) Haraway says that “the entire universe of objects that can be known scientifically must be formulated as problems in communications engineering (for managers) or theories of the text (for those who would resist)” (162-63). The whole thing seems to be about challenging domination and oppression. But aren’t those theories of text just another form of inherent domination since they are produced in English which is considered to be a language of international communication – isn’t that a domination, a heritage of the colonial past?

3) As an element of culture that is deeply sewn into our everyday lives; do you think music has a way of shaping the world and everything that goes into it?

Sources

Haraway, Donna. (1991). “Cyborg–Manifesto.” IN SIMIANS, CYBORGS AND WOMEN: THE REINVENTION OF NATURE. New York: Routledge, 149-181.

Lefebrve, Henri. “The Production of Space.” In Gieseking, Jen J. And William Mangold, (Eds.), The People, Place, and Space Reader. (289-293). London: Routledge.

Sterne, Jonathan. (2012). Quebec’s #casseroles: on participation, percussion and protest. Theory & Event 15(3), The Johns Hopkins University Press. 4pgs.

Sun Ra, Space is the Place (1974)

Wilson, Elizabeth. (1991).  The Sphinx in the City: Urban Life, the Control of Disorder, and Women. Ch.1- Into the Labyrinth. (1-11). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Blog Post #2 – Re-Orientation Exercice

By Sarah Bibeau

In the first blog post that I made for this class, I said that my favourite space was in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I previously said that I felt like my body was connected to the nature in that particular space. This is why I would like to make a connection with the concept of cartesianism, since it is concerned with separating the mind from the body, and the body from nature.

After learning about this concept in class, I believe that this form of thinking – dualism – can be problematic for many reasons. First, it forces us to think about our bodies as being detached from any form of thinking/reasoning therefore, detached from its richness. Moreover, as it was mentioned in class, a living thing (or, a human being) is constantly being influenced and transformed by the environment around, therefore, following the concept of phenomenology, “the mind and body cannot be split and consciousness cannot be separated from nature/environment” (Week 2- Notes). Next time I’ll be over there, I will try to think about the connection that exists within my own body, and how it  relates to the environment around.

I would also like to address the concept of derive because when I am over there, I don’t always know where I am going; I often go for walks without any particular goal/purpose. Plus, I don’t really know all the areas of this island so I often feel like I am lost, until I encounter a path that looks familiar.

To continue, the concepts of mapping and power must also be considered in this particular space. The Caribbean has a history based on oppression, slavery and struggle for human rights. Today, many hotel resorts have been built alongside Grace Bay, one of the longest beach on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Instead of remaining public, this beach is now privately owned by foreign hotel owners, thus reinforcing the public/private division of particular spaces on the island. These owners also hired police officers – or beach officers – in order to make sure that the beach is reserved for the people staying at their hotel. You cannot decide to borrow a chair or a towel made available for the hotel guests because you will be stopped by the “beach authorities”; everything is controlled and regulated in order to exclude anyone who did not pay the “full price” in order to access this part of the beach. I have joined a picture of the main resorts on Grace Bay beach as a way to show how limited the accessibility is to the beach for local people, and for people who are not staying at these hotels. (You can still access amazing parts of the sea shore  although you are not staying at a resort- the island is big enough for that – but it is a little more complicated when you are not a hotel client.)

 

grace bay

Picture from: http://www.turksandcaicostourism.com/Beaches.html

This also leads us to the concept of whiteness, in order to talk about the power relationships at stake. I might be generalizing here, but I have a strong feeling that the people owning these resorts are white people from the Western hemisphere of the globe. Or, if it is not the case, white people are still the most affluent on the island, although they might not all be born on the Island. White people are the ones owning small businesses over there, hiring local people to work for them, and most of them are paid the minimum wage. Whites are the ones with money, owning the most beautiful houses of the island. Thus, I realized that whiteness on the island really “orientates bodies in specific directions” and is affecting how people can take part of the “picture” of a particular place, and what they can do within these spaces. (Ahmed 149).

Mis-Guide Review: Devon and Samuel

We thought that Devon and Sam’s mis-guide was really engaging in terms of how it forced us think about and to search for explanations of few terms employed in the poems. For instance, the first poem talks about “the Smithsonian”; we actually had to go look for this word on the Internet in order to understand the idea behind its use. We realized that the relationship between the text and the image was important within their mis-guide; thus we believe that they succeeded to create a complementarity between them. Their mis-guide also forced us to engage not only with the space around us but also with socio-cultural forces in place on the campus. Although no concepts were implicitly addressed, we arrived at the conclusion that these ideas were indirectly brought up: heritage, cultural assimilation, colonialism, power structure, and control. Thus their work offered us an alternative way to think about different spaces at Loyola that are embodying important concepts. The poem that we liked the most was the one on CJLO, addressing power relationships among the media industry, because it relates to our field of study and we are therefore better equipped to think about this issue/concept.

We believe that one of the ways to make this project even more engaging and attractive would be to find an appropriate title for it. Also, we thought that by creating an interactive space where it would be possible to discuss about these visited spaces and poems – since we probably all have different interpretations of them – would definitely bring this mis-guide to the next level. Finally, maybe it would be worth a try to compose images that does not require any text, or texts that does not need any image to be interpreted, as a way to force people to engage even more with the surroundings of the campus.

The overall was great!

Nice job guys! 

By Sarah Bibeau and Ana Patricia Bourgeois

Riddle324!! Who wants to play?

riddle race

For the purpose of this mis-guide, we have decided to play with the existing environment at the CJ building. Since the aim of this project is to make people see the campus differently, we thought that by creating a riddle race, we will encourage participants to consider and acknowledge the different historical artifacts present within this building. Therefore, we will force them, in a way, to dérive from their common itinerary, similarly to Guy Debord’s concept, by encouraging them to engage within a game that will take place on Instagram. By creating this riddle race, our goal is to challenge the existing knowledge that one has about CJ building; we hope to encourage each participants to think about this space differently. Indeed, instead of only considering it as a “school environment”, we hope to bring a ludic aspect to it, while at the same time, allowing everyone to experience it as if it is an art gallery.

By Sarah Bibeau and Ana Patricia Bourgeois

About Me: Blog Post #1

Hi everyone!

My name is Sarah Bibeau and I am a third year student in Communication and Cultural Studies. I am also minoring in anthropology and I am planning to do a master degree in order to teach.

photo 3 - Copy

This is me and my 4 and a half years boyfriend!

More About Me

I love learning about other cultures whether it is about different custom, music, ways of behaving, food, etc. I think it is a great way to understand why the world is organized this way and also how it works. The communication program at Concordia opened my eyes on contemporary issues and helped me to develop critical thinking in regards to different topics. My main study interests are feminism, issues of representation, human rights, and the natural environment.

I spend most of my time doing activities with my boyfriend. We share the same passion for films, food, and sports. I really enjoy cooking and baking. I am also a sport/training addict; I do functional training, crossfit, I run, and I skate. I also love writing. I am currently working on the writing of a book.

About Coms 324

My goal for this class is simply to enjoy the topic and try thinking differently about the world. I really admire people who can think outside of the box and by taking this class I hope that it will help me to sharpen my thinking skills. I also hope to discover a new topic in communication studies, a topic that I never really encountered/studied before.

Favorite Space

My favorite space is in Turks and Caicos (Caribbean) where part of my family live. They live in Providenciales (or Provo) and I just enjoy the environment and the people over there. It is always warm and sunny outside; nobody is stressed, there is no traffic, no Walmart/Costco/McDonald, etc. The pace of life is really slow, everybody works slowly and smile all the time. It is also a place where it is easy to stay active. Indeed, there are lots of spaces for outdoor and indoor sports, and also many places where you can observe and enjoy the nature. It is my paradise!!

caméra nikon 097 IMG_0826 IMG_0828

When I am in this place, my body becomes so relaxed. My back doesn’t hurt and my shoulders aren’t tense because of the stress. I am never cold or sick because it is always warm outside and I never lack sleep. I just feel healthier there because my body is connected with nature when I go into the ocean, when I smell salty water, or when I am watching the stars at night for instance. There is also less pollution over there (visual, light, air) so I can perfectly breathe and enjoy every aspect of nature. Finally, I also use my body to perform many sports and activities.

About the Faculty

Among the things faculty do that make learning hard, I will say too many readings prevent students to really grasp the material in order to study key concepts more in depth; 3 hours classes are way too long and could be used more efficiently; in many programs, midterms and finals are among the only ways to assess student’s competencies and it should not be so; some classes are way too cold and it does not encourage students to learn and to listen carefully; finally, a better access to loan and bursaries should be offered to all students.

Among the five things that make learning easier, I will say that Concordia Library’s web database is really impressive and also quite rich in material while conducting research; room study and “blue zones” at the library really help to concentrate and study; great teachers are also an important asset in the learning process and Concordia has a bunch of them; Wi-Fi is also available everywhere; gym facilities and other services whether it is for health issues or learning disabilities are also available to students and it is great for us!