Postcolonial Computing: Technology and Cultural Encounters


Date Thursday June 17th 2010
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium, PARC

PARC Forum

“Culture” has become a hot topic in computing research as information technologies become enmeshed in global flows of people, products, capital, ideas, and information. However, while much attention has been focused on the problems of “cross-cultural collaboration” and “cultural difference,” a useful alternative is opened up by thinking about culture from a generative, rather than a taxonomic, perspective — that is, as a framework for understanding and interpreting the world around us, rather than a framework for classifying people. In this talk, I will outline and illustrate an approach that my colleagues and I have been developing, which draws on anthropology, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies to help us examine the contexts of encounter between people, information technology, and culture.


Paul Dourish is Professor of Informatics at UC Irvine, with courtesy appointments in Computer Science and in Anthropology. Before joining UCI in 2000, he was a Senior Member of Research Staff in the Computer Science Lab at (then) Xerox PARC. His research interests lie broadly at the intersection of computer science and social science, with particular interests in human-computer interaction, computer-supported cooperative work, ubiquitous computing, and social studies of science and technology. In 2008, he was elected as a member of the CHI Academy. He is the author of "Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction" (MIT Press, 2001) and the co-author, with Genevieve Bell, of an upcoming book tentatively entitled "Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing."

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