Online indigenous communities and indigenous communities online

My contribution to the 2017 Congress for the International Society for Folklore and Ethnology is an attempt to bring together Indigenous methodologies and internet research. See abstract below:

Online indigenous communities and indigenous communities online

Many Indigenous groups have been early adopters of modern information and communication technologies, as a response to a need for connecting over broad areas and to get organized, or as a mode of exploring new channels for making their voices heard in a new media landscape.

Although early analysis of digital communication tended to over-emphasize online networking as a means for strangers to connect based on shared interests, the perception of online communities as separate from the offline world have rapidly been nuanced.

In the case of Indigenous communities, and more particularly Sámi groups in for example my own research, it is not valid to approach the online community as something that goes beyond geographical, cultural and sometimes social boundaries. The overlap between offline and online communities reaches such an extent that what emerges online cannot even be approached as “digital” or “virtual” communities. The challenge is how to grasp the entanglement of online and offline ways and means to connect and build networks.

This paper will discuss how Indigenous research can approach the concepts and phenomena of “connectiveness”, “sharing” and “networking” in a Sámi context. In terms of methods, this approach implies a certain adaptation of the ethnographer’s toolbox. In term of ethical considerations, Indigenous methodologies and digital media ethics need to be combined and incorporated in order to guarantee an ethically valid, appropriate and responsible mode of conduct.

This presentation is part of the panel on methods in digital research that I co-convene with my UW colleague Robert Howard.


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