A recent study, titled “African-derived religions on the Web: Cyber “terreiros” (places where Afro-Brazilian fetichism is practiced) and Global African Diaspora,” by Ricardo Oliveira de Freitas (a PhD student at the Programa Avançado de Cultura Contemporânea) documents the novelty and complexity of emergent Diasporic territories produced by the Web. Oliveira argues that New Media and African Diaspora scholars ought to attend to the fragilely constituted intersections “provided by the web between Brazilians and foreigners (mostly black and mestizos)” which welcomes the “feeling of rescuing blackness and africanness that turns Brazil into Africa” (Oliveira, 74).
The article continues to push Diaspora scholars toward understanding issues of Afr0-Brazilian race relations as diachronically experienced and dynamically manifested in which:
A new religious expression is then created. No more an African-Brazilian, but instead, an Afro-Brazilian-diasporic (or universal), which shows the construction of a new network of sociability articulated among foreigners (Americans and Europeans) and minorities (Brazilians, Cubans, Nigerians, Haitians …), African-Brazilian religions and african-derived religions (Candomble, Umbanda, Lukumi) santeria, palo, Voodoo, Ifa, center vs. periphery, global vs. local, media and identity, tradition and modernity, new technologies of communication and transnationalism.
Thus, the dynamics of ecumenism that has oscillated between African-derived religions in Brazil, United States, and Europe through the web, begin to be prepared, even before the virtual space, in the space of the terreiro itself. A real space, it is. (Emphasis mine, Oliveira, 74-5)
This work links up well with other engagements with the Digital Diaspora as well, such as Parham’s 2004 work “Diaspora, Community and Communication: Internet Use in Transnational Haiti. Global Network” or Chamber Music Today’s Digital Diaspora: Virtual Chamber Music Communities which, through a Foucauldian approach to Critical Media Studies, argues, with a hopeful flare:
that it’s vital to not see technologies themselves as facilitating marginalization, but rather to understand these processes within the scope of broader cultural practice—the practices of using technologies in certain ways that affect spatial organization and function. When the space in question is cultural space—where individuals and groups experience cultural products/symbols (such as chamber music)—personal and group experiences and mediations of cultural products are affected by the practices of production and dissemination of those products which are experienced within social space. And, whereas products produced by the transnational entertainment/information industry seek to promote the universal value of mass consumption and clichéd mainstream values, alternative or activist or indigenous cultural products and discourses can potentially have unique practices of production that serve diverse goals and diverse meanings. When these types of alternative communications are disseminated through contemporary communications media, they’re able to (1) resist the colonization of cultural space by homogenous mass-culture products pushed by transitional capitalism, and (2) support identities at the individual and group/community levels. This is part of the message that authors like Saskia Sassen and Howard Rheingold put forward.
CMT: The postmodern global political economy suggests that the politics of capitalism is increasingly dictating or at least facilitating the myths of social and political discourse, though . . .
DSM: And the use of media technologies in the dissemination of cultural products has been disassociated from the political, cultural and social implications of this process. National media for the most part facilitate colonization within the norms both of modernity and postmodernity. In most democracies, alternative domestic media do exist and are vital for challenging social, political and economic injustices. Generally, these are important alternatives to national and global hegemonic communication infrastructure, although in real life categorizing many institutions within either side is difficult.