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April 1997 Issue
The Geographical Review
April 1997, Vol. 87 (2), pp. 259-274
Counterhegemonic Discourses and the Internet
Barney Warf and John Grimes
Contrary to much of the hype that posits cyberspace as the uncontested domain of rugged individualists, computer networks and traffic exhibit deeply social and political roots. The Internet is neither inherently oppressive nor automatically emancipatory; it is a terrain of contested philosophies and politics. After a brief review of the politics of electronic knowledge, we discuss the ways in which the Internet can be harnessed for counterhegemonic (antiestablishment) political ends. We focus on progressive uses, including the confrontation of nomadic power and rhizomic power structures, in which the local becomes the global. We also offer an ecapsulation of right-wing uses. Throughout, we see cyberactivism as a necessary, but not sufficient, complement to real-world struggles on behalf of the disempowered.
Dr. WARF is a professor of geography at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306, where MR. GRIMES is a doctoral candidate.