College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

College/Department Conferring Degree

International Studies

Keywords

liberal governmentality, cyberspace, foucault, internet freedom, epistemic violence

Abstract

This thesis critically assesses the US’s “International Strategy for Cyberspace,” its policies concerning Internet freedom, and its corollary promotion of global connectivity via Information and Communication Technology. I argue that the Internet freedom discourse constitutes a form of epistemic violence that the US government and its like-minded allies perpetrate against those who adhere to contradictory communication policies. I further suggest that the associated policy initiatives render the US culpable, if not wholly responsible, for the physical violence that people may fall victim to as a result of using the technology it actively helps develop and promote. I also contend that the US’s attempt to establish the guiding norms and govern the behavior in “cyberspace” is an example of “international governmentality,” a contemporary variant of Michel Foucault’s notion concerning modern power relations. Following this, I demonstrate how Foucault’s understanding of governmentality reveals important aspects of the US-led cyber agenda that remain hidden in the rhetoric; aspects which allow for a more complete assessment of the policy and its implications.

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