A critique of the Internet in Mexico
: From coordination without politics to decolonial politics

  • Rodrigo I Liceaga Mendoza

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


A developmental agenda of economic growth and modernisation, together with the ideal of democratisation, has guided and shaped efforts to expand and promote the use of the Internet in Mexico. Such efforts, while taking for granted the functionality of this technology for enabling political participation, ignore the Internet’s provenance and pitfalls. Situating such omissions within the context of Mexico’s colonial heritage, the thesis questions: what is the Internet doing in Mexico and how is it related to coloniality? And how has an alternative politics and use of the internet been practiced in Mexico considering this context of coloniality? With a decolonial orientation and drawing on the insight from Science and Technology Studies that understands technological objects as structured in particular ways to achieve particular interests, the thesis analyses the Internet’s design in the United States and three prominent cases of Internet use for intended national transformation in Mexico: Enrique Peña Nieto’s digitisation policy, #YoSoy132 mobilisations and the Zapatista insurgency. This analysis is developed through the thesis’ central concept of ‘coordination without politics’, meaning that collective coordination and experience are possible when mediated by an external third party, which hinders the emergence of embodied political experiences. This concept is drawn from Giorgio Agamben’s approach to instrumentality and the political and oriented by and toward the Zapatista political experience, the latter which works as a contrasting case as it embodies the concept of the political in relation to technology. The thesis argues that rather than a greater degree of political participation the use of the Internet in Mexico has primarily served to reproduce this technology’s embedded forms of coloniality as an instrument of coordination without politics, which is only intelligible through the inclusion of a decolonial element in critical and philosophical approaches to the internet. The Zapatistas on the contrary and so far, have not only countered such forms of coloniality/instrumentality but also, regarding Maya cosmology and the practice of intersubjectivity, contribute to our understanding of how to decolonise politics in relation to technology.
Date of Award12 May 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorColumba L Peoples (Supervisor) & Elspeth S Van Veeren (Supervisor)


  • Internet technology
  • instrumentality
  • coordination without politics
  • the political
  • decolonial thinking

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