This page, which has not been updated since the early 2000s, traces the early history of this website, from 1996 to around 2001.
This site is devoted
to ideas, current politics and social theory, epistemology and theory
of science, anthropology and cultural criticism. Its serious character
notwithstanding, I cannot guarantee that it is entirely devoid of silly
jokes. Waiting for greater bandwidth to become generally available, I
am using graphics sparingly on these pages, but if you must, you may click
here. (Actually, clicking here
may provide more updated directions.)
At the moment, five indexes are available for the archive section of the site (see below): A thematic index, an alphabetical index , and my untidy desktop. The world map has been abandoned for the time being, the recent additions index has been superseded by a news section on the home page; and the remaining three are updated with irregular intervals. Hyperlinks and new material are added whenever I have the opportunity.
Why this Web site?
Many personal Web sites straddle the narrow boundary between the frivolous and the impertinent. This is understandable since the Web is an extension in McLuhan's sense of the term: a supplement and enhancer of the body, including thought and sentiment. It therefore seems appropriate that I should provide some information about myself. I am a social anthropologist employed at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, Norway. My professional work has largely focused on identity politics and globalisation, particularly ethnicity and nationalism; and I have carried out fieldwork in Mauritius and Trinidad. However, I have also written introductory texts for various audiences in English and Norwegian, as well as essays and articles on a variety of topics, academic and non-academic. In 2001 and 2002, I am associated with the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (TIK) at the University of Oslo, working in an interdisciplinary environment on issues of technology and society. From 1993 to 2001, I was editor of a general cultural journal covering politics, literature and culture both in the narrow and the wide sense, called Samtiden ("Our Times"), published by H. Aschehoug & Co. I also edit, with Dr Jon Mitchell and Dr Katy Gardner of Sussex University, a book series called Anthropology, Culture and Society, published by Pluto Press (and started in the early 1990s by Dr Richard Wilson). I should also add, for the record, that I am committed to a radical humanism which sees one of its main challenges as coming to terms with relativism without losing enlightenment values on the way and thereby regressing to nihilism and aestheticism as an alternative to politics.
Why am I constructing this Web site?
The answer is obvious: Communication.
As is well known, the world is flooded with information already, and perhaps there is enough for everyone. Being in the situation of having something to communicate, and knowing that millions of others are in a comparable situation, it can be comforting to know that a great deal of interesting, relevant and even fascinating things are happening at this very moment -- and that only a tiny minority of us will ever know of them. These pages are, in other words, not set up with an imperialistic vision in mind. Ignoring them is entirely legitimate, and nobody will be any less happy for it. Not much less happy anyway.
This site was partly closed down around the transition to 2000, not because of fears for the Millennium Bug, but because I needed some respite to reconsider the form and purpose of web publishing. On the one hand, the site had obviously been useful to a number of people, many of who were seeking particular forms of knowledge that were on offer there. On the other hand, the site did not do well in exploiting the possibilities of hypertext and the dynamic nature of Web materials: the uploaded texts were largely written for paper media, they were static and poorly linked. After a lifespan of nearly four years in cyberspace, the site sorely needed restructuring so that it would not just contribute to the proliferation of content (which I still see as a major priority), but also contribute to the development of web-specific narrative strategies. In other words:
Oslo, February 2000
There has been no development of the Network section in the past year. What will happen in the near future is not for me to tell, and it is still accessible. In early autumn 2001, I re-designed the home page to make it easier to update and more user-friendly.