Indigenizing cyberspace: the possibilities of new media technologies for indigenous peoples

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2015-12

Authors

Brown, Amanda Frances

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Abstract

The information superhighway. The global village. Cyberspace. These are only a few of the metaphors used to describe the Internet, a vast global interconnected computer network which has dominated life in the 20th and 21st centuries. While online media spaces are often described as an open limitless frontiers by scholars and users alike, recent scholarship has shown that racism, sexism, and other discriminatory forces shape user experiences. While this emerging literature on the issues surrounding cyberspace has uncovered important aspects of identity making in this space, this thesis project takes a different approach and considers the potential possibilities of new media technologies. By focusing specifically on the possibilities for indigenous users, an identity often ignored in new media scholarship, I argue that cyberspace is a critical landscape for indigenous peoples to work toward decolonization, carve out indigenous spaces online, and foster indigenous cultures and ways of knowing. By positing two new frameworks to analyze cyberspace, cyborg-intimacy and the virtual third space, I demonstrate new ways of thinking about how indigenous bodies matter in this space and how cyberspace can function as a zone outside of traditional political and cultural boundaries. Through this work, this thesis project not only asserts the presence of indigenous peoples in these spaces, countering stereotypes of these peoples as outside modernity, but also showcases the innovative ways that indigenous peoples are contributing and shaping cyberspace.

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