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Subversion, Conversion, DevelopmentCross-Cultural Knowledge Exchange and the Politics of Design$
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James Leach and Lee Wilson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027168

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027168.001.0001

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Sacred Books in a Digital Age

Sacred Books in a Digital Age

A Cross-Cultural Look from the Heart of Asia to South America

5 (p.78) (p.79) Sacred Books in a Digital Age
Subversion, Conversion, Development

Hildegard Diemberger

Stephen Hugh-Jones

The MIT Press

The use of digital technologies in reproducing texts has profoundly transformed attitudes towards books and to the production and format of literary texts. While it is often assumed that digitization will lead to universalization in literary production, this chapter argues that the ways in which digital technologies are used in relation to books is predicated on what a book represents in a particular context. By way of a range of ethnographic cases from Asia and South America, the chapter makes the case that a book is not a simple conveyor of a message. Rather, culture specific understandings of books and book related technological innovations and digital objects show that books and their digital derivatives are not just produced through social relations, but themselves have an impact on social relations, often in unforeseen ways. Importantly, understandings of literary artefacts, and the ways in which they relate to oral traditions, shape the ways in which they relate to digital technologies. This relationship may indicate why the life of conventional books may still be long and varied, alongside their multifarious digital incarnations that make texts of different traditions accessible across the globe in an unprecedented way.

Keywords:   Books, Digitization, Oral Traditions, Literary traditions, Cultural Assumptions, Social Relations

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