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Paper: Football fan communities and identity construction

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Budka, P., Jacono, D. 2013. Football fan communities and identity construction: Past and present of “Ultras Rapid” as sociocultural phenomenon. Paper at “Kick It! The Anthropology of European Football” Conference, 25-26 October 2013.

Introduction

Eduardo Archetti (1992: 232) argues that “football is neither a ritual of open rebellion nor the much mentioned opium of the masses. It is a rich, complex, open scenario that has to be taken seriously”. Archetti’s argument is in line with the most recent research in fan and football fan culture (e.g. Giulianotti & Armstrong 1997, Gray, Sandvoss & Harrington 2007). Because to study fans and fandom means ultimately to study how culture and society works.

In this paper we are going to discuss, within the framework of an anthropology of football, selected aspects of a special category of football fans: the ultras. By analysing the history and some of the sociocultural practices of the largest Austrian ultra group – “Ultras Rapid Block West 1988” – the paper aims to show how individual and collective fan identities are created in everyday life of football fan culture.

“Ultras no fans!” is a slogan that is being found among ultra groups across Europe. Despite this clear “emic” statement of differentiation between “normal” football fans and “ultras”, ultras are, at least from a research perspective, basically fans. So we begin our examinations in the phenomenon of “Ultras Rapid” by briefly discussing anthropological and ethnographic research in football and football fans. We then set forth to present selected characteristics of SK Rapid Wien’s largest ultra group that is also the oldest still active ultra movement in the German-speaking countries.

The authors themselves are fans of SK Rapid Wien and have been following the club and its fan culture for several decades (e.g. Jacono 2014). Building on ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observation, historical and archival studies, this paper intends to contribute to the anthropological and ethnographic understanding of the sociocultural phenomenon of football fan culture.

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Paper: Community resilience and social media

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Molyneaux, H., O’Donnell, S., Kakekaspan, C., Walmark, B., Budka, P., Gibson, K. 2012. Community resilience and social media: Remote and rural First Nations communities, social isolation and cultural preservation. Paper for the “2012 International Rural Network Forum”, Whyalla and Upper Spencer Gulf, Australia, 24-28 September.

Abstract
Community resilience in First Nations includes ties to people both inside and outside the community, intergenerational communication, sharing of stories, and family and community connectedness. This study, based on a survey of internet users in the Sioux Lookout region of Northwestern Ontario, explores the link between social networking sites (SNS) and community resilience. The region is home to some of the most isolated and rural First Nations (indigenous) communities in Canada. Cultural and familial links between these communities are strong, yet until the fairly recent widespread use of the internet, maintaining regular communications to strengthen cultural ties was challenging. This study examines the links between travel and communication online, how social media is used to preserve culture and maintain communication, and the implications of social networking for community resilience.

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Article: MyKnet.org: How Northern Ontario’s First Nation communities made themselves at home on the World Wide Web

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Budka, P., Bell, B., & Fiser, A. 2009. MyKnet.org: How Northern Ontario’s First Nation communities made themselves at home on the World Wide Web. The Journal of Community Informatics, 5(2), Online: http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/article/view/568/450

Abstract

In this article we explore the development of MyKnet.org, a loosely structured system of personal homepages that was established by indigenous communities in the region of Northern Ontario, Canada in 2000. Individuals from over 50 remote First Nations across Northern Ontario have made this free of charge, free of advertisements, locally-driven online social environment their virtual home. MyKnet.org currently comprises over 25,000 active homepages and strongly reflects the demographic and geographic profile of Northern Ontario. It is thus youth-based and built around the communities’ need to maintain social ties across great distances. We draw upon encounters with a range of MyKnet.org’s developers and long time users to explore how this community-developed and community-controlled form of communication reflects life in the remote First Nations. Our focus is on the importance of locality: MyKnet.org’s development was contingent on K-Net, a regional indigenous computerization movement to bring broadband communications to remote First Nations. MyKnet.org is explicitly community-driven and not-for-profit, thus playing an important role in inter- and intra-community interaction in a region that has lacked basic telecommunications infrastructure well into the millennium.

Community Informatics (CI) in Vienna

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Michael Gurstein held a lecture yesterday about “what is community informatics and why does it matter?” at the Austrian Computer Society in Vienna.

Gurstein states that one of the important aspects of CI is to bring researchers, practitioners, and policy makers together to work within a processual structure.

CI aims to solve real live problems of communities by integrating information and communication technologies (ICT) in different community processes. Thus, the community becomes the “user” of ICT and not the individual. This bottom-up approach should ideally lead to the empowerment of the community through ICT.

In contrary to the concept of the “digital divide”, CI is about “effective use of ICT” and not about access to ICT. Within the context of CI, ICT is to enable people to e.g. decentralize institutions or distribute local knowledge. A good example of such a decentralized institution is the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KIHS) of the KO Tribal Council in Northwestern Ontario, which enables First Nations’ students to stay in their remote communities while attending school.

Jana Herwig wrote a nice report in German about Gurstein’s lecture and the follow-up discussion for her blog.