Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You Will Be Assimilated. Your Culture Will Be Adapted...

It was interesting to read Shel: A Deaf Canadian's Thoughts blog post on the Borg metaphor (post 1 / post 2).

"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. Resistance is futile."

This particular Star Trek character is well-known for its assimilation of cultures and worlds rather than learning by experience. In a way, the nondisabled hearing world is like the Borg, attempting to "cure" disabled people. Some don't want to be helped, since they're satisfied the way they are. So far, we've got CIs, joint replacements, robotic walking assistance, to name a few technological advances.

"We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own."

Some other modern day cultures are like this. I wrote something like this for a class, inserting Borg quotes. Some cultures have stayed with the old traditions. Can we preserve and move a culture into current technologies at the same time? As someone says, they become "westernized" upon the introduction of techology. Are we forcing people to give up something in order to "live better?"

"Your culture will adapt to service us."

But then there's those who still have to give up something. Some cultures only have a spoken or visual history, and could be lost if it's not passed it on. Technology can only go so far when it comes to documenting and/or preserving cultural history.

"Resistance is futile."

...or is it?


Anonymous said...

That's interesting. In any culture that assimilates, incorporates or replaces another culture, there is arrogance: my way is better than your way, you will adapt because you will see it is better, and there really is no other alternative.

What can one say? One must know the value and uniqueness of one's own culture in order to stand firm.

Shel said...

Exactly, Dianrez.

What happens when children are denied the knowledge of the value and uniqueness of their culture? Linguistic and cultural genocide.

We saw the results of that arrogance you referred to, Dianrez, on the Native Americans in North America.

The Canadian Aboriginals finally got an apology from the Prime Minister of Canada for the abuses that were done in the name of "civilizing" them, exactly because the Aboriginals knew the value and uniqueness of their culture and stood firm.

We, the Deaf, are nowhere near as successful in educating others of the value/uniqueness of our culture, yet. Unfortunately.

This brings me back to the original point I made here... the onus is on us to pass on our language and heritage to Deaf children...despite obstacles set up by the majority... so that they can stand firm against oppression and arrogance.

Anonymous said...

Resistance is futile, indeed. Old and new can exist together.

See, this is between the deaf and deaf. It is more of deaf people who cherish their old ways vs deaf people who are open to new things, new ways.

Wheras, Native Americans was vs the white man. And the Canadian Aboriginals was vs the white man.

I just can't see the logic comparing with that.

Anonymous said...

Oops. The above was written by me.


Shel said...


Just so you know. Canadian Aboriginals ARE Native Americans. In Ontario the Native-Americans call themselves First Nations. I idenfified them as Aboriginals because by the Natives ARE aborigines...meaning they are indigeneous. Natives refer to themselves as aboriginal here in Canada, too.

It is clear to me that you don't view Deaf people as having a distinct culture and language, despite being Deaf yourself. I don't hold to D/d distinctions. I view all as being Deaf as in a distinct people, regardless of the degree of hearing they have, and regardless of their views, whether they hold to the cultural mores or not.

You don't see the connection between the Natives vs Whites and us vs the Oral ideologists simply because you don't see us as a linguistic/cultural minority.

I'm wondering if you took cultural studies? If not, that would explain in part your views of the Deaf, espite being one yourself.


Shel said...

Excuse my typo...

< part your views of the Deaf, espite being one yourself. >

I meant to type part your views of the Deaf, despite being one yourself.


Der Sankt said...

I have to second candy on that.

you see the borg analogy doesn't work. I'm a star trekkie in my own way and i know the borg controls the thought.

now a CI isn't that extreme.


Der Sankt said...

Now, now Shel, let's be nice.

you made her point even stronger. There are the deaf that want to preserve the old way of life--no hearing, ASL only mode..

There's the other that thinks CI is perfectly normal for everyday life.

yes there may be controversy in that regard but what I havent seen lately is a compromise. So when does that come in?

Will my Deaf children suffer crucifixion from both sides of society for their choices? If so, I'm not bringing any in this world.


MM said...

Unlike Borg CI People aren't an alien race bent on takeover, they are deaf too. The 'assimilation' is not from hearing, since sign and culture can always effectively create a wall to defend from, but from other 'deaf' wanting in too, and they can adopt and adapt the communication to their lifestyles, so technically a far greater 'threat' than hearing. Actually most want unification to take place, not assimilation. The 'Borg' blogs are just digs at CI people, and not helpful.

Joseph Pietro Riolo said...

I don't mind the discussion of antagonistic view of technologies. But, this is not the only view to describe the relationship between the cultures and technologies. Other equally valid view is that the cultures are very often happy adopters and users of the technologies. Many characters and societies in the Star Trek shows illustrate the positive view of technologies. Many science fiction movies and literature use the antagonistic view of technologies mainly for the purpose of creating conflicts in their stories. Borg is a good example of it. The Matrix Trilogy is another good example of it.

Joseph Pietro Riolo

Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

Anonymous said...

Shel, I am aware of natives, aboriginals,indigenous people and all that, so I'm not sure what you are getting at there.

I do view deaf people of having a culture and language. It appears you view that because my views are different, ergo, I may not view deaf as having a culture or language?

I do see us as a minority. Of course. Why wouldn't I? Even those with C.I. are a deaf minority.

You can't compare the two. Natives vs white man with deaf vs technology oriented deaf.

You would think that after so many years of being oppressed, we wouldn't oppress our kind if they chose a different route? We can do one thing, advocate for what each of us believes in, in a positive way. Disagree but respect the others without pointing to knowledge or memberships in a culture.


RSGeo-007 said...

Debates are welcome here, but please be civil, otherwise I will have to turn off comment posting for this blog entry.

The Borg has always been a Star Trek metaphor so to speak. Dianarez said it when she mentioned arrogance. There is no attempt to "leave alone," rather, the dominating culture "adds" themselves to the other culture.

Der Sankt said...

it's interesting how this discussion seems to miss the point that Deaf and Hearing cultures are in constant contact with each other...

They don't stand independently without the other.

Assmiliation has to be done from one or the other in order to survive. The refusal to comply could mean annilihation of one culture or both.

The latter seems most unlikely.


Anonymous said...

You people are so politically correct its unbelievable! Why is it so hard for you to imagine that there actually might be a better way and that some cultures might actually be better off gone?