The cyberpolitics of the governed
ABSTRACT How do the governed postcolonial subjects perform resistance in the age of the internet? What are their oppositional practices, networks and creativity? This paper offers an empirical analysis of the emerging network politics in Macau, the former colony of Portugal whose sovereignty was returned to China in 1999, by focusing on netizens’ engagement with the postcolonial governance. This research considers “government” as consisting of not only power but freedom. It starts with an interest in the “failure” of the government—that is, how the new regime, which attempts to insert the postcolonial subject into a new power structure, actually fails to produce a completely uniform and obedient subjectivity. Instead, its rule is saturated with a multiplicity of “netwars” which take advantage of the opportunities and resources offered by the new media environment. The network struggle, which is not unified under any single authority, enables a segment of the governed population to do politics and constitute subjectivity otherwise. In particular, I illustrate how egao, which opens official icons of the administration to negotiation and contestation, allows the governed to make their own political statements. The postcolonial cyberpolitics is simultaneously agonistic and playful, expressing what Foucault calls the refusal “to be ruled in such manners”, or the desire for alternative mode of governing.
Keywords: network struggle, egao, government, postcolonial resistance, Macau
Shih-Diing Liu has taught at the University of Macau since 2003. His recent publications appear in Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies, Si-xiang, positions: asia critique, Asian Politics and Policy, Mass Communication Research, and New Left Review. He is now preparing a book on ‘affective sovereignty’.