From Cemeteries to Cyberspace: Cartographies of identity in a technologised age

Elizabeth M. Grierson
Vol 20, Number 2, p.83
From the starting point of death, this paper considers contradictory aspects of identity in a globally technologised age. It opens up a terrain of knowledge and ontology through engaging a politics of experience in questions of death and identity. Closure is inevitably disrupted when the imminence of death is confronted. The paper focuses on the cemetery and cyberspace, with attention to Heidegger's 'dwelling', Michel Foucault's heterotopia and a liberal version of utopia. A technologisation of knowledge is identified in the relations between the epistemological framing of these spaces and ontologies of 'the self'. A critical reading of this terrain makes visible the assumptions about progress, unity, and identity that normalised discourses of culture and technology presuppose. At the sites of cemetery and cyberspace the idea of imagined and imaginary frontiers beyond physical reality is the site at which identity faces the unimaginable. The project follows Foucault's procedure of the 'specific intellectual' in that it does not attempt to claim a masterful discourse of 'truth' in matters of technology and identity. The approach is rather one of strategised knowledge, a heuristic approach whereby the possibilities of theory open up the in the exigencies of praxis. Thus the paper declares itself through its own experiential starting point: a questioner stands at the borders of the question, facing the unimaginable aporia of death and the radical absence of a question. To Hugh and Campbell