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How the West was One? The American Frontier and the Rise of a Global Internet Imaginary

  • Author(s): Kahn, Richard
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper connects the Turner thesis and the construction of a frontier imaginary to contemporary American practices as evidenced by the exportation of advanced Western science and technologies throughout the globe, using the Internet as a representative example. The dissemination of the Internet to non-Western cultures is a major global strategy at present, and the paper finds that this is occurring via the conceptual strokes of the “American West.” The paper argues that visions of a democratic Internet involve the metaphoric evocation of Turner’s frontier democracy and imperial progressivism. However, the “Western” directionality of imperialism is dialectically related to “whole-earth” discourse through a pervading global localism.

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