The local, the global, and the self : an ethnographic account of a community Computer Centre in Carnarvon, Northern Cape, and its significance for its users’ sense of self and their place in the world

Van der Hoef, Monique (2017-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The focus of this thesis has been on the local participants in computer education courses that are provided by the Siyafunda Computer and Technology Centre at Kareeberg library in Carnarvon in the Northern Cape. The aim of the Computer Centre is to introduce the rural community to basic computer technology and to promote computer literacy and thereby improve their job opportunities and better their livelihoods. The Centre was launched on 19 November 2013 with the slogan ‘leer, motiveer & inspireer’ [learn, motivate and inspire], and is a partnership between inter alia the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA-SA) and SiyafundaCTC. The SKA is an internationally driven project located on a cluster of farms between the towns of Brandvlei, Vanwyksvlei, Carnarvon and Williston, and when completed it will be the biggest and most advanced radio telescope in the world. The presence of the SKA in this area of the Karoo has brought changes to the surrounding communities, and in particular Carnarvon, which have proven to be a significant part of the context for this research project. The main research site for this project has been the Computer Centre, and within this setting I have explored what impact the promise of being able to use computers and have access to the internet has had on the lives of the people who have made use of these facilities. Additionally, I looked at whether and how basic education in computer technology may shift the way participants look at themselves, their local environment, and the wider world ‘out there’. This has been done through the conceptual lens of ‘critical cosmopolitanism’, to provide an understanding how computer technology can open up local views to global perspectives and unpack the tensions that may arise between local, national and global spheres. In conducting this study an ethnographic research methodology has been adopted in which participant observation and ‘hanging’ out in the Centre as well as in the town of Carnarvon have been central research methods. By engaging with students, staff, recreational users, and casual visitors of the Centre I developed insights into how the use of computers and internet may affects their everyday lives, how they think about their local community and what it means to open up their ideas of the world ‘out there’ to a more open and global worldview.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie fokus op plaaslike inwoners van Carnarvon in die Noord-Kaap wat ingeskryf is vir rekenaaronderwys kursusse aangebied deur die Siyafunda Rekenaar en Tegnologie Sentrum by die Kareeberg biblioteek. Die doel van hierdie rekenaarsentrum is om die landelike gemeenskap bekend te stel aan basiese rekenaartegnologie en rekenaargeletterdheid te bevorder. Sodoende word daar gepoog om hierdie gemeenskap bloot te stel aan beter werksgeleenthede en terselfde tyd moontlik hul lewensbestaan te verbeter. Met die vorming van ’n vennootskap tussen onder andere die Departement van Wetenskap en Tegnologie (DWT), die Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA) en SiyafundaCTC was dit moontlik om die sentrum se deure oop te maak in November 2013 met die slagsprek ‘leer, motiveer & inspireer’. Die SKA is 'n internasionaal-gedrewe projek wat geleë is op 'n groep plase tussen Brandvlei, Vanwyksvlei, Carnarvon en Williston. Wanneer die SKA voltooi is sal dit die grootste en mees gevorderde radioteleskoop in die wêreld wees. Die teenwoordigheid van die SKA in hierdie gebied van die Karoo het vele verandering aan die omliggende gemeenskappe teweeg gebring. Dit is veral die geval in Carnarvon, die dorp wat 'n beduidende deel van die konteks vir hierdie navorsingsprojek gevorm het. Die rekenaarsentrum was die belangrikste plek van navorsing vir hierdie projek. Binne hierdie instelling is ondersoek ingestel na die impak wat toegang tot die gebruik van rekenaars en die internet gehad het op die lewens van die mense wat gebruik gemaak het van hierdie fasiliteite. Verder is gekyk na of, en hoe, basiese opleiding in rekenaartegnologie deelnemers se persepsie van hulself, hul plaaslike omgewing, en die res van die wêreld "daar buite" verander het. Deur gebruik te maak van ‘kritiese kosmopolitisme’ as ’n konseptuele lens, word ’n begrip gevorm vir die manier waarop rekenaartegnologie plaaslike menings vatbaar maak vir globale perspektiewe. Verder word daar gekyk na die spanning wat kan ontstaan tussen plaaslike, nasionale en globale vlakke as gevolg hiervan. ’n Etnografiese navorsingsmetode is gebruik tydens veldwerk. Dit het deelnemende waarneming asook ’n informele daaglikse aanwesigheid in die sentrum, sowel as Carnavon, wat sentraal in die uitvoering van hierdie studie was, behels. Deur interaksie met studente, personeel, informele besoekers, en diegene wat die sentrum gebruik vir ontspanningsdoeleindes, is daar gepoog om verdere insigte te verkry oor die gebruik van rekenaars en die internet en hoe dit deelnemers se alledaagse lewens affekteer. Dit het verdere insigte gebied oor hierdie individue se persepsie van hul plaaslike gemeenskap en hoe hul idees rakende die wêreld "daar buite" lei tot 'n meer globale wêreldbeskouing.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/101193
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