This morning I signed up to an 6 week online course, which starts on the 16th of January 2017. The course is run on the Future Learn platform, is completely free and entitled ‘Empire: the Controversies of British Imperialism‘. It should take only 3 hours a week, so I’m hoping to fit it in without too much bother.
The course seems interesting as it explores the British Empire through 6 themes;
- gender and sex
Having read the lead educator, Richard Toye’s blog post, ‘Why is the British Empire still so controversial?’ , highlighted as a taster for the course, I was hooked in by the focus on both the historical and documented Empire, it’s continuing colonial legacies (which extends longer than you may think) but most of all by the notion of ‘informal empire’.
For too long as a British-born, Muslim woman of South Asian descent,the ability to label, structure and vocalise all the stories, histories and continuing ripples that I see as a large messy uneven web has been so damn hard. The connection to web technologies has in part helped, but also made it a little difficult. Though I now definitely know more, and I’m able to connect to more data and refer to more anecdotal evidence and narratives, lets face it the colonial capitalistic patriarchal carnival just continues. As I sit a little overwhelmed and unsure of how best to attack the many problems I see before me. While simultaneously forging my way through contemporary society and it’s many messed up unfolding scenarios that I can trace back to historical legacies that allowed some to hold power of others. Then justify this power through questionable systems. Systems that allowed people, lands and traits to be classified, homogenised for the purposes of promotion/defamation and then this new “logics” to be legitimised as “rationales”, interwoven with the scientific, cultural, political and social advancements of the world in a great many directions. Some directions brought great worth to some of the Empire’s subjects and some directions a great deal of pain.
I know for a experiential fact I am not alone in what I perceive. In my feelings that I live in a society unequal towards too many and in so many ways. That I am both part of a global village, a global identity, a great big society but also shut out from it. A society that refuses to acknowledge the many doors it shuts in our faces, the many anxieties and insecurities it induces and the many hoops it lines up for everyone to always jump through. Whilst continually measuring our progresses, putting us under increased surveillance, gathering so much data about us that we tend to see and project ourselves in terms of narrow descriptions. This feeling is felt across many, many fault lines of ‘diversity’, many tribes constructed through ‘data classification’ and throughout the length and breadth of this country (as well as in various parts of our historically colonised world).
You could argue that these tools extends to out online environments. Online platforms could be fooling us into thinking we are both a consumer and a producer, a spectating observer as well as a fundamental cultural constructer, however is it not just another type of social carnival? A virtual one that looks to be a revolution but only projects and protects the very people served historically by colonialism, patriarchy and capitalism?