Technology in a Multicultural and Global Society
Editor: May Thorseth, Charles Ess
Publisher: Trondheim, Norway: Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 2005
Review Published: December 2009
To begin with, it is clear that Ms. Dumitrica has taken her assignment seriously. Her summaries show that she has read the chapters making up the anthology with care. She has further produced -- with two exceptions, noted below -- reasonably well-crafted, fine-grained sketches of the individual chapters. Finally, she has offered a number of critical comments and observations. In general, these critiques strike us as largely fair and well intended -- as long as the reader keeps in mind, however, Ms. Dumitrica's own interests and perspectives as they appear to shape these critiques. We thus wish to make clear first of all that, Ms. Dumitrica has rendered both us and readers valuable service, for which we can only be grateful.
But we also think some important qualifications are in order. To begin with, while Ms. Dumitrica's summaries of the articles are generally quite good, she does considerably less justice to the chapters by Bu Wei and Deborah E. Wheeler. In this connection, we also wonder if her sharp critique of Deborah Wheeler's work -- as "quite simplistic . . . in terms of its engagement with the intersections of gender and religion, as well as in terms of its summarization of the interviews" -- is quite fair. That is, such a critique may hold from a more contemporary perspective -- i.e., one shaped (thankfully) by the rapidly growing research and reflection in these domains. But we wonder if Ms. Dumitrica might judge a little less harshly here if she were reading instead in the context of 2004-2005, when there was virtually nothing available in the English-speaking world by way of empirical research on women and ICTs in the Islamic world? At least it should be pointed out here that in its original context, based upon our best knowledge of the available research and literature, Dr. Wheeler's work constituted a pioneering contribution.
In a similar way, we should plead guilty to Ms. Dumitrica's broader criticism: ". . . with several contributions insufficiently developed in terms of theoretical framework or empirical detail, the volume offers only a few challenging but rather raw ideas." This is clearly an important criticism, certainly one to be noted and kept in mind by prospective readers. But again -- and at the risk of sounding defensive (or merely old!) -- this characterization and criticism seem significantly more true from a contemporary standpoint than in the original context of the volume and its contributors' work.
None of this, we hasten to add, is intended to disparage or dismiss Ms. Dumitrica's contemporary perspective and context. On the contrary, we presume that most readers will share her contemporary perspective rather than more historically-oriented ones -- if not her specific interests in ideology -- and so her comments are fair enough from and for that perspective. Again, we are grateful for Ms. Dumitrica's review and hope that our comments only help highlight its significant strengths.
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