Between the Local and the Global: Notes Towards Thinking of the Nature of Internet Policy

This post by Nishant Shah is part of a series related to the 2014 Milton Wolf Seminar on Media and Diplomacy: The Third Man Theme Revisited: Foreign Policies of the Internet in a Time Of Surveillance and Disclosure, which takes place in Vienna, Austria from March 30 – April 1, 2014.

An imagined and perceived gap between the global and the local informs transnational politics and internet policy. The global views the local as both the site upon which the global can manifest itself as well as the microcosm that supports and strengthens global visions by providing mutations, adaptations and reengineering of the governance practices. The local is encouraged to connect with the global through a series of outward facing practices and policies, thus producing two separate domains of preservation and change.  On the one hand, the local, the organic and the traditional, needs to be preserved and make the transnational and the global the exotic other. On the other hand, the local also needs to be in a state of aspiration, transforming itself to belong to global networks of polity and policy that are deemed as desirable, especially for a development and rights based vision of societies.

While these negotiations and transactions are often fruitful and local, national, and transnational structures and mechanics have been developed to facilitate this flow, this relationship is precarious. There is an implicit recognition that the local and the transnational, dialectically produced, are often opaque categories and empty signifiers. They sustain themselves through unquestioned presumptions of particular attributes that are taken for granted in these interactions. There have been many different metaphors that have been used to understand and explain these complex transfers of knowledge and information, resources and capital, bodies and ideologies. Vectors, Flows, Disjunctures, Intersections are some of the examples. However, with the rise of the…

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