Article: From marginalization to self-determined participation

Budka, P. 2015. From marginalization to self-determined participation: Indigenous digital infrastructures and technology appropriation in Northwestern Ontario's remote communities. Journal des anthropologues – Special Issue “Margins and Digital Technologies”. No. 142-143: 127-153. Modified Version.


This article discusses, from an anthropological perspective, the utilization of digital infrastructures and technologies in the geographical and sociocultural contexts of indigenous Northwestern Ontario, Canada. By introducing the case of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Kuh-ke-nah Network (KO-KNET) it analyses first how digital infrastructures not only connect First Nations people and communities but also enable relationships between local communities and non-indigenous institutions. Second, and by drawing on KO-KNET's homepage service, it exemplifies how people appropriate digital technologies for their specific needs in a remote and isolated area. KO-KNET and its services facilitate First Nations' self-determined participation to regional, national, and even global ICT connectivity processes, contributing thus to the “digital demarginalization” of Northwestern Ontario's remote communities.


Seminar: Media & visual technologies as material culture - students' projects

The following joint student projects are conducted in the seminar "Media and visual technologies as material culture" at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna:

  • Team A: Non-Use of Smartphones
    -> Which impact does the non-use of smartphones have for the private and working life? Why do people decide against using smartphones?
  • Team B: Meaning of Cellphones for Refugees
    -> What is the meaning of cellphones for refugees in Austria?
  • Team C: Crowd-sourcing & Labor
    -> How are subjective meanings of “team work” shaped by the inter-dependencies between freelancers and the website Capacitor?
  • Team D: Sharing of Visual Media, Art & Cultural Identity
    -> In what aspects have the Japanese art forms of dance and painting changed through the sharing of visual media/material?
  • Team E: Access to Internet & Power Relations within the Family Home
    -> What are the effects of internet usage on children and young adults in respect to power relations in the family home?
  • Team F: Conversion/Discussion about Digital Content
    -> What is the difference between usage of commentary sections of Serbian and German online newspapers?
  • Team G: Self-Identification through Visual Communication & Social Media
    -> How do people identify/define themselves through visual communication via social media (websites (blogs), video blogs and Instagram)?
  • Team H: Ayahuasceros – Making of Ritual Community on Facebook
    -> What is the relevance of Facebook in the community building process of Austrian Ayahuasca ceremonies?
  • Team I: Bicycle Movement & Digital Media in Vienna
    -> How are digital media technologies utilized in relation to the social network BikeKitchen?

Seminar: Media & visual technologies as material culture - students' research ideas

Clustering of individual ideas to create joint research projects in the seminar "Media and Visual Technologies as Material Culture" at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.


Seminar: Media & visual technologies as material culture - course description

Seminar "Media and visual technologies as material culture" by Philipp Budka
MA Program CREOLE & MA Program Social & Cultural Anthropology
University of Vienna

Seminar Description

This course gives an overview about material culture as conceptual approach to understand media and visual technologies. It focuses on digital media technologies, their visual aspects and how they are integrated and practiced in everyday life.

Digital media technologies, such as smart phones, laptops, organizers, PDAs, etc., have become important (visual) communication and (re)presentation devices, particularly via the internet and its services. For social and cultural anthropology it is of particular interest how those technologies, objects and artefacts are integrated and embedded into daily practices, by considering changing sociocultural, political and economic contexts. In this course we focus on the material and cultural aspects of digital media and visual technologies and how they are utilized. How are these technologies, objects and artefacts integrated and embedded into daily (sociocultural) practices? What are the relationships between people and digital technologies? Material culture approaches are utilized to understand and analyze technology appropriation as well as different media and visual technology practices, meanings and relations.

By working on different case studies, students get a comparative overview about material culture in the context of media technologies. Students conduct small empirical research projects within teams. The university's online learning management system is used to provide resources and content as well as to foster student's exchange and communication beyond the classroom.


Appadurai, A. (ed.) 1986. The social life of things: Commodities in cultural perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Boellstorff, T., Nardi, B., Pearce, C. & T.L. Taylor. 2012. Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Budka, P. 2015. From marginalization to self-determined participation: Indigenous digital infrastructures and technology appropriation in Northwestern Ontario's remote communities. Journal des anthropologues – Special Issue “Margins and Digital Technologies”. Forthcoming.
Eglash, R. 2006. Technology as material culture. In C. Tilley, et al. (eds.) Handbook of material culture. London: Sage.
Fischer, M. 2007. Four genealogies for a recombinant anthropology of science and technology. Cultural Anthropology 22/4: 539-615.
Garsten, C. & Wulff, H. (eds.) 2003. New technologies at work: People, screens and social virtuality. Oxford: Berg.
Hine, C. (ed.) 2005. Virtual methods: Issues in social research on the internet. Oxford: Berg.
Hine, C. 2015. Ethnography for the internet : embedded, embodied and everyday. London: Bloomsbury Acad.
Horst, H. & Miller, D. 2006. The cell phone: An anthropology of communication. Oxford: Berg.
Horst, H. & Miller, D. (eds.) 2012. Digital Anthropology. London: Berg.
Markham, A. & N. Baym. 2009. Internet inquiry: Conversations about method. London: Sage.
Miller, D. 1997. Material cultures: Why some things matter. London: Routledge.
Miller, D. (ed.) 2005. Materiality. Durham: Duke University Press.
Peterson, M. A. 2003. Anthropology and mass communication: Media and myth in the new millennium. New York: Berghahn.
Pfaffenberger, B. 1988. Fetishised objects and humanised nature: Towards an anthropology of technology. Man, 23(2), 236-252.
Pfaffenberger, B. 1992. Social anthropology of technology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 21, 491-516.
Pink, S. 2005. The future of visual anthropology: engaging the senses. London: Routledge.
Tilley, C. et al. (eds.) 2006. Handbook of material culture. London: Sage.
Vannini, P. (ed.) 2009. Material culture and technology in everyday life. New York: Peter Lang.

Paper: Indigenous audio-visual media production and broadcasting – Canadian Examples

Budka, P. 2015. Indigenous audio-visual media production and broadcasting - Canadian Examples. Paper at "Eleventh Conference on Hunting and Gathering Societies", Vienna, Austria: University of Vienna, September 7-11.


This is a short position paper that sets out to briefly discuss how indigenous audio-visual media production and broadcasting initiatives haven been developed and maintained in Canada. I am concentrating on television which still is the world's dominant audio-visual communication medium. What are the specifics of indigenous media (production) and related practices and processes? And what does the future hold for indigenous media projects? Due to limited time at hand, I am only able to open this field of research by presenting two case studies: the national Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) (e.g., Hafsteinsson 2013, Roth 2005) and Wawatay (e.g., Budka 2009, Minore & Hill 1990), a regional communication society in Northern Ontario.

Full Paper (PDF)

Vortrag: Indigene Modernität durch digitale Medientechnologien?

Budka, P. 2015. Indigene Modernität durch digitale Medientechnologien? Infrastrukturentwicklung, Technologieaneignung und soziokulturelle Praktiken im Nordwestlichen Ontario, Kanada. Vortrag im Colloquium Americanum des Instituts für Ethnologie der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, 25. Juni 2015. (PDF)

„Modernität“ & Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie/Ethnologie
„Indigenisierte Modernität“
Indigene & Digitale Medientechnologien
Internetinfrastruktur im Nordwestlichen Ontario, Kanada
Soziale (sozial-digitale) Praktiken
„Indigene Modernität“ durch digitale Medientechnologien?

Concept map: Post-colonial technoscience

This map visualizes the concept of "post-colonial technoscience" discussed by Smith, L. C. 2010. Locating post-colonial technoscience: through the lens of indigenous video. History and Technology: An International Journal, 26(3): 251-280. It was done by using the free CMap Tools (click to enlarge).


Review: Unmasking deep democracy: An anthropology of indigenous media in Canada

Budka, P. 2015. Review of Unmasking deep democracy: An anthropology of indigenous media in Canada, by S. B. Hafsteinsson. Aarhus: Intervention Press, 2013. Social Anthropology, 23/2: 240-242.

In the book's introduction Sigurjon Baldur Hafsteinsson declares that the anthropological study which resulted in Unmasking Deep Democracy will, on the one hand, challenge the anthropology of visual communication and, on the other hand, contribute to the sub-discipline's arguments. The anthropology of visual communication, like the anthropology of media, focuses in particular on the relational aspects and characteristics of (visual) media, such as television. This volume is about indigenous television in the Canadian context. By analysing communicative and journalistic practices of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) it aims for gaining an insight into the sociocultural agency of indigeneity and its (media) politics.

Hafsteinsson criticizes that research about indigenous media 'largely ignored questions proposed by indigenous peoples themselves' (p. 11) focusing rather on theorising indigenous media in relation to 'Western' concepts. By following Eric Michaels' (e.g. 1985) research, who worked with indigenous media producers in Australia in the 1980s, the author intends to understand 'the importance of media of indigenous social and spatial relations' (p. 11). This means to consider media's cultural, societal and linguistic particularities and limitations as well as the rules, norms and regulations of knowledge and information production and circulation in an indigenous context.

Hafsteinsson, moreover, discusses quite extensively the methodological challenges in his study. Instead of the aspired twelve months of fieldwork at the APTN office, the network officials granted him only one month for research on their premises. Interviews outside the office, e-mail interaction and phone communication, therefore, became important means of data collection. Through his fieldwork he learned that APTN's media practices are basically democratic practices 'which include respect, protection, promotion of diversity, and universal human rights'; practices which Appadurai subsumes under the concept of 'deep democracy' (p. 12).

In chapter 2 Hafsteinsson develops his account of indigenous media practices as 'deep democracy' (p. 66). To situate and understand 'indigenous democratic concerns' in relation to media, he suggests to talk about 'narratives of democracy' (p. 50) rather than of theories of democracy. In doing so, the author understands democracy in this context as an 'emerging narrative field' rather than as a political form or 'thing in itself' (p. 68). 'For indigenous people', he continues, 'democracy means inclusion and participation and not necessarily elections and representatives' (p. 68).

Hafsteinsson identifies three distinct types of narratives about indigenous media: (1) the colonial, (2) the activist and (3) the democratic. While the colonial narrative underlines the overall domination of 'Western' media technologies, denying thus indigenous agency, the activist narrative, as a response to the inadequacy of colonial theories, highlights indigenous media's potential for structural change, cultural representation and political inclusion. As an alternative to these two narratives, Hafsteinsson suggests the democratic narrative about indigenous media which 'seeks to respond to the concerns of indigenous people regarding what indigenous media is all about' (p. 51) by considering not only structural changes, but also individual and local changes and related social transformations and consequences invoked by indigenous media. Such practices of deep democracy, moreover, include 'an extension of aboriginal peoples' cultures' (p. 71).

In chapter 3, Hafsteinsson analyses APTN as a case for the institutionalization of indigenous experience through establishing a distinct management structure and a mandate for indigenous media broadcasting in the Canadian context. This mandate also includes the bridging between indigenous and non-indigenous people and therefore a translation between cultures. He continues in chapter 4 to explore the 'aboriginality' of APTN's programming by 'unmasking' the complexity and diversity of indigenous programming production, which also uncovers the 'complexity of 'aboriginality' within Canada' (p. 137). Chapter 5 discusses journalistic practices in the APTN news department and how they are recognized as practices of deep democracy by focusing on local news and community issues which are not covered by Canada's mainstream media.

At the end of his book, Hafsteinsson reminds the reader that his study should be perceived as an encounter between the author and 'the many ideas that radiate through and around' APTN (p. 169). Again he highlights the cultural diversity of indigenous people in Canada and APTN's challenge to reflect these differences. For him, the founding of an indigenous owned national TV network is an example for practices of deep democracy. Hafsteinsson's book is a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature about indigenous media and the anthropology of media. By focusing on indigenous people's own articulations of media practices – for their specific communication and information needs – it takes research in indigenous media back to Michaels' work and, at the same time, one step further.


Michaels, E. 1985. 'Constraints on knowledge in an economy of oral information', Current Anthropology 26(4): 505-510.

Seminar: Indigenous Media

Seminar "Indigenous Media" by Philipp Budka
MA Program in Visual & Media Anthropology,
Freie Universität Berlin

Course Description

In this course students get an introduction to indigenous media technologies. In ten seminar units selected questions, issues, and problems are discussed: How do indigenous people produce, distribute, and utilize audiovisual media? How has ethnographic and anthropological film making changed? What role do politics, power, globalization, and (post-)colonialism play in the production and use of indigenous media? How do indigenous people utilize media to construct and negotiate their individual and collective identities? How are indigenous cultures and languages represented through media? And how do indigenous people appropriate and (co-)develop digital technologies in times of increasing globalization?

We start with the contextualization of indigenous media within the framework of an anthropology of media. In the second unit students are introduced to selected debates about the meaning and relevance of (mass) media for indigenous people and their culture. We then discuss ethnographic film making and visual anthropology in the context of indigenous people's changing role from “objects” for ethnographic films to partners in media projects. The fourth unit deals with the phenomenon of (post-)colonialism and its political implications for indigenous media. This discussion leads us to the self-controlled production of indigenous media and its relevance for issues such as (self-)representation, appropriation, control, and empowerment. Globalization, modernity, and related questions of collective indigenous identity construction – “indigeneity” – are the topics of the next unit. The following three sessions are closely connected and discuss aspects of identity, community, networking, ownership, activism, empowerment, aesthetics, poetics, and popular culture in relation to indigenous media. In the final unit students learn about the importance of digital technologies and infrastructures for indigenous people, their activist projects, and networking initiatives.

Through several case studies students are introduced to the similarities and differences of indigenous media projects throughout the world. These case studies take us to different regions, countries, and continents: from Nunavut, Canada, and the US to the Caribbean to Guatemala, Mexico, and Brazil to Nigeria to Myanmar to Australia and to Finland. The seminar's assignments include the reading of selected articles, the watching of films and videos, and the discussion of these in small essays. The online conference tool Adobe Connect is used to present and discuss aspects of texts, films, and essays.

Presentations (PDFs)

1) Introduction & Indigenous Media in an Anthropology of Media
2) Indigenous Media Debates
3) Indigenous Media & Ethnographic Film
4) Indigenous Media & Post-Colonialism/Decolonization
5) Indigenous Media Production
6) Indigenous Media & Globalization
7) Identity, Community & Networking
8) Politics, Activism & Empowerment
9) Aesthetics, Poetics & Popular Culture
10) Digital Media Technologies

Presentation: Open Access / Science & Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie

Budka, P. 2015. Open Access / Science & Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie. Präsentation am Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, 14.04.2015.

  • Was bedeutet freier Zugang zu wiss. Inhalten & Materialien & das Publizieren unter Bedingungen des offenen & freien Zugangs für KSA?
  • Was sind die Möglichkeiten & was sind die Schwierigkeiten?
  • Welche Beispiele gibt es?
  • Bedeutet „open access“ auch „open science“?
  • Open Access?
    OA: freier Zugang zu Inhalten & Materialien, z.B. wiss. Literatur, Lehr- & Lerndokumente, (Primär)Daten, etc.
    Goldener Weg: publizieren in Open-Access Zeitschriften, z.B. Directory of Open Access Journals (
    Grüner Weg: Selbstarchivierung, Homepage, SNS (, researchgate), Institutswebsite, etc. – Problem mit Rechten
    alternatives Publikations- & Geschäftsmodell
    2017-2021: ~50% OA Publ. (Lewis 2012,
  • Möglichkeiten
    AutorInnen: + Verbreitung / Diskussion / Feedback
    LeserInnen: + Zugang / Feedback
    Bibliotheken: + Ersparnis
    Gesellschaft: + Einsicht / Verständnis / Verwendung von Steuermitteln
  • Open Access = Open Science?
    Dialog von Wissenschaft & Öffentlichkeit / Gesellschaft
    Öffnung von wissenschaftlichen Prozessen

  • About

    This is Philipp Budka, a social and cultural anthropologist from Vienna, blogging about the anthropology of media and technology, digital anthropology, indigenous internet practices and media, technology enhanced learning and his ethnographic fieldwork.
  • Archive

    • und wieder was gelernt im : "gegengesellschaft" - danke hc.,
    • auch im gilt: tatsachen spielen keine rolle, wer laut & oft ruft hat recht. was sagt das dazu?,
    • woche 8 der vo "einf. ksa" @univienna: rekapitulation & prüfungsvorbereitung. ,
    • welcoming paula uimonen as visting prof @univienna's dpt of social & cultural ,
    • find the modified version of the article "From marginalization to self-determined participation" at: ,