Reflecting on the Conference, what stood out for me was the difference in dynamic among participants, and as an extension their practices. What each person brought into the conversation, elements such as institutional affiliation, professional practice, philosophy, language, origin and others, created the interesting mosaic of “the face of technology-related peace building today”. The most intense binary in terms of the dynamics appeared between western and non-western participants. In much of the work presented, represented or spoken of, the basic cultural dynamics became determining factors in the understanding of the work itself. And it became clear to me that much of what the father of post-colonial thought, Franz Fanon writes about in the first part of the twentieth century, are present, and in some cases dominant, even in conversations about peace and technology, even at the haute level of this specific gathering.Read more
I am not claiming that technology and peace experts are carelessly and ignorantly going about their business. The complexity of the communication mechanisms that come into play, between peace builders with smart technology who are working in communities with running water problems, is often acknowledged and the binary is validated and dealt with. I have witnessed during the conference, however, examples of practices, where the Western ‘expert’ plays the default role of the deus ex machina. Much of the time, the documentation of such intervention also reflected these practices, in film, photography and other means of documentation of projects and practices.
I am not referring at all to donors and their part in this conversation, my thoughts are purely around my observation of practitioners and their stance towards their collaborators, their environments, and their own goals and dreams.
Taking care not to stifle, that is my lesson learnt. The human spirit is strong but precious. And it is also unique. Humanity has gone through repeated cycles of exploiting one another, purely on the basis of financial gain, with the stronger dominating the weaker. In the family of peace and technology, a community that partially carries out its activities in a world above the one with all the cycles of greed written on it, the patterns can change, if they start to change from the practitioners themselves.