Budka, P. (2021). Indigenizing digital futures: The case of a web-based environment for remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Paper at German Anthropological Association Conference, Online (hosted by University of Bremen, Germany), 27 September – 1 October.
Exploring digital phenomena, processes and practices in an indigenous context point to the fact that the mediation of culture and the formation of identity include the mixing and recombination of cultural elements (e.g. Budka 2019). Such an “indigenization” perspective (Sahlins 1999) promotes an open and dynamic understanding of digital culture and offers a critical view of Euro-American centred concepts of digital modernity, such as “the digital age” and “the network society”, that imply a unilinear evolutionary world view that tends to ignore culturally different ascriptions of meaning to digital realities (Ginsburg 2008).
Between 1998 and 2019, the free and community-controlled web-based environment MyKnet.org, which was operated by the First Nations internet organization KO-KNET, enabled residents of remote communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada, to establish their own web presence, to communicate and interact, and to create and share content. Through an anthropologically informed approach that advocates the significance of indigenous realities in understanding the diversity of digital life and by building on ethnographic fieldwork, this paper discusses how digital futures were imagined and shaped in and in relation to MyKnet.org.