Indigenous New Media Symposium

Funding Details
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
  • Grant type: Connection Grants
  • Year: 2017/18
  • Total Funding: $22,851
Keywords
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Project Summary

The Indigenous New Media Symposium will be a two-day event held on the traditional territory of the WSÁNEC; (Saanich), Lkwungen (Songhees), Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation as part of the 2018 Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI). The symposium will be a starting point for an extensive capacity building and knowledge mobilization project at DHSI that will include the production of open access materials and models to support Indigenous peoples and research in the digital humanities (DH). This initial symposium will bring together scholars from across the social sciences and humanities, including Indigenous Studies, English, Psychology and Human Development, and First Nations and Endangered Languages. Scholars, students, artists, and community members will collaborate closely with one another on a range of projects employing digital technologies in Indigenous contexts. This symposium builds out of Indigenous new media research and curricula developed by Nisga'a poet and DH scholar Jordan Abel and Dr. David Gaertner over the past five years in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program (FNIS) at the University of British Columbia and the English department at Simon Fraser University, respectively. There is an urgent need to decolonize DH theory and practice. Indigenous scholars have resisted the digital humanities because of concerns raised by their communities about the expropriation of data (Duarte 11). Tara McPherson astutely asks, "why are the digital humanities so white?" (n.p) But we also need to ask, "how does DH replicate settler colonialism-and how do we, as researchers and teachers, address that? The non-consensual circulation of Indigenous data replicates settler colonialism, insofar as it assumes that Indigenous data requires stewardship. This has serious effects on peoples and communities. Deidre Brown and George Nicholas provide a pointed critique of the costs of dh practices in Indigenous communities. According to their research, for Indigenous peoples those costs, "may include loss of access to ancestral knowledge, loss of control over proper care of heritage, diminished respect for the sacred... threats to authenticity and loss of livelihood, among other things" (309). Indigenous communities have a right to their data. Those with the power, privilege, and technology necessary to facilitate change, for instance DH specialists, often do not have the skills or resources to effectively, and ethically, hold up that right. It is clear that developing new models for Indigenous engagement with DH is critical for the research and knowledge dissemination practices facing Indigenous and Canadian scholars today. The symposium will take place over two days at DHSI at the University of Victoria. DHSI is an ideal environment for acquiring and developing digital humanities skills via knowledge transfer, networking, collaboration, and community building. DHSI 2018 will span two weeks of intensive coursework, colloquiums, and lectures. Through workshops, colloquiums, and networking events participants meet to share their research, interests, and expertise across traditionally divergent lines of knowledge creation. Employing an active, community-based approach, DHSI is an ideal space for participants (be they, students, staff, faculty, or community members) to learn and discuss computing technologies and the ways in which they impact teaching, research, and knowledge dissemination/preservation. The Indigenous New Media Symposium taps into this large community, providing unique opportunities and platforms for Indigenous faculty, librarians, students, and community members to share their work and connect with research communities that can support and disseminate Indigenous research initiatives.

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