Digital Aspirations: Malaysia and the Multimedia Super Corridor

Grants and Contracts Details


This dissertation project intends to expand our knowledge of the role of information technology (IT) in large-scale state development projects in the non-Western world by focusing on the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), a new high technology urban region being built in Malaysia. The MSC is the linchpin of a state sponsored national development strategy intended to make Malaysia a developed nation by the year 2020. Through the provision of a wide spectrum of IT infrastructure, including broadband and wireless Internet access for all businesses and households located in the MSC, the Malaysian government intends to create its vision of an ideal nation and citizenry that can take advantage of the so-called Information Age. This large scale provision of IT infrastructure, then, is about more than the creation of a technology hub for economic development. It is envisioned as the key to creating a zone for the reimagination of Malaysia and Malaysians as a nation and people. Consequently, the provision of IT infrastructure in the MSC involves a radical transformation of the social and physical landscape of the region that is directly linked to national development and national identity. This research is focused on three questions: (a) how are IT, national development, and national identity linked through the MSC; (b) how are access to, and use of, IT in the MSC socially differentiated; and (c) how do groups in the MSC, defined by their different positions in relation to access and use of IT, perceive the present and future consequences of IT-led development for nation building and national identity? The project seeks to examine how assumptions about the transformative power of IT and its actual use affect: (a) the economic goals of national development and the political goals of nation building in Malaysia; (b) existing and emerging social differences in accessibility to, and use of, IT; and (c) groups. perceptions of the present and future consequences of IT-led development for nation building and national identity in Malaysia. The research will provide insights into how state and non-state actors represent and use IT to build and contest the imagination of a technologically developed nation in the Information Age. NSF funds will support data gathering from: (a) a discourse analysis of state planning documents; (b) an institutional and household survey of differences in access to and use of IT by groups living and working in the MSC; and (c) in-depth interviews with subsets of these groups defined by their differences in access to and use of IT. The broader impacts of this project will be to: (a) contribute to key theoretical and conceptual issues in contemporary scholarship in technology, geography, and development studies through the publication of journal articles, participation in scholarly meetings, and a book manuscript; and to (b) address issues of IT-led development strategies to wider academic and non-academic audiences through a variety of media. Along with the publication and presentation of research results in scholarly journals, at professional meetings, and in the classroom, a series of articles in non-specialist magazines is anticipated. Through the specific example of the MSC, these articles will discuss the implications of the increasingly wide scale adoption of information technology into many aspects of people's lives in both the 'West' and 'non-West.'
Effective start/end date2/1/031/31/05


  • National Science Foundation: $11,949.00


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