Thursday, November 19, 2015

Who controls the plagues of fantasies?

I have just finished reading "Exorcising the 'plague of fantasies'; Mass media and archaeology's role in the present; Or why we need an archaeology of 'now'' by Rodney Harrison.  This paper was pretty interesting and a quick read.  He looks at the need to balance the idea of the "wisdom of the crowds"  behind things like wikis with the ease of erasing/burying "alternative accounts and non dominant narratives" in these same fora.  To counteract this pressure he calls for the application of archeology tools to online spaces.  By the title, he is explicitly referring to earlier work by Zizec discussing the dominant worldview favoring globalization and minimizing (or fetishizing) "ethnic particularisms".

While I certainly see the possibility of a continued suppression of difference online, I don't think that this is any more bias there than in the previously experienced creations of history where "what happened" was determined primarily by white, middle class, European men.  I may not see my ideas of indigenaity stay on a wiki, but I could at least put them up there in the first place, which really seems like an advancement overall.  Furthermore, while my blog may not be optimized in every search engine, it is easily findable.  Through following the links of other indigenous writers and artists and thinkers I can access a world of resources and voices. Furthermore, we don't need to be online at the same time or close in space to share an imagined reality.  We could talk about a lack of access to these online spaces for some groups - but let's put that aside for now.

But I do ultimately agree with his argument for an archeology of now.  I think there is a lot we could learn about how we can transfer information and preserve tradition in this new format.  Personally, I am interested to watch the development of "pan-indigenatity" arising through the easy access to a wide variety of indigenous voices, stories and songs online.  I also see opportunities to better support the domestic and global indigenous community through user controlled nuancing and tools to support "ethical solicitation".  I can hear about an issue and contribute, in a way that someone from that community has suggested is useful, not how the news has told me to do it and not through an "organization" perhaps controlled outside the community.  I am thinking here of the kickstarter like campaign started to build a new house on a Canadian reserve.

Now I would question, whose tools are we going to rely on to do this work?  I love Foucault as much as the next gal, but maybe a dead white guy shouldn't be in charge any more.  I am going to go back to my fantasy that Judith Butler is my mother and life is calm and Cartesian and logical, but then maybe I need a new fantasy with circles and not lines.

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