Antonio Lopez: Media Worlds in Collision
11.17.06 | The Nunga (southern Australian aborigines) have a term for the mental software of the European colonizers: “Invader Dreaming.” I take this to be a compact description of a mentality, one that is of the “invaders,” but one that also “invades.”
And just as I view advertising as the dream life of corporations, I think it’s fair to say that digital media is a kind of dream world that requires critical inspection. Consequently, I’m interested in what sociologists refer to as “subjectivities,” ways of perceiving and being in the world and how they impact communities. As an educator and writer engaging different media forms in Native American classrooms, I want to extend this discussion to a broader understanding of communication systems as mental and spiritual environments, or as “media ecologies.” As Neil Postman remarks, “When media make war against each other, it is a case of worldviews in collision.”
Accordingly, in terms of discussing digital media and Native America, one of the primary battlegrounds of “worldviews in collision” is in schools. As advocates of digital media education, it’s important to be cognizant of alternate modes of engagement, and to design programming that is appropriate and sensitive to these differences, not out of a tokenistic desire for multiculturalism, but out of a real engagement of difference that is positive and constructive.
What has been more obvious to Native Americans is the manner in which education is conventionally used as a tool for control and assimilation into the dominant society. From what I’ve learned in the public school system, I take it as a given that compulsory government education standards encourage students to reinforce the economic and political structure of our society.
While recognizing that there are plenty of excellent and well-meaning educators that do work in the system, it’s important to acknowledge how Native education policy has played out; the implications for the broader society are equally significant. It’s necessary to probe deeply into our own operating system to see the extent to which our education models might be running buggy software.
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