Accepted Paper:

Indigenous futures and digital infrastructures: how First Nation communities connect themselves in Northwestern Ontario  
Philipp Budka (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

By introducing the case of KO-KNET, one of the world's leading indigenous internet initiatives, this paper analyses how social relationships have been established and maintained through digital infrastructures and how First Nations connect their futures to digital developments.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses digital technologies and infrastructures in the geographical and sociocultural contexts of indigenous Northwestern Ontario, Canada. By introducing the case of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Kuhkenah Network (KO-KNET) it analyses (1) how internet infrastructures act as facilitators of social relationships and (2) how First Nations people imagine and make their digital futures.

Over the last 20 years, KO-KNET established itself as one the world's leading indigenous internet initiatives aiming to build communication infrastructures for (remote) indigenous communities. Today, these infrastructures facilitate land-line and satellite broadband internet as well as internet cell phone communication, constituting thus the backbone for all internet-related services and programs, from e-health to online learning and video-conferencing. Infrastructure, following Star (1999), also includes the social relationships people establish in the course of creating technical connections and networks. Studying infrastructure, therefore, means also studying aspects of human organization (e.g., Pinch 2009, Star 1999).

This study of KO-KNET is part of a digital media anthropology project that was conducted for five years, including ethnographic fieldwork in Northwestern Ontario and in online environments, and focuses on internet infrastructures and their future development to understand social relationships in a digital world, contributing thus to an anthropology of digital media technologies.

Panel P065
Media futures: media anthropology of, for and through the notion of 'future' (Media Anthropology Network)