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Accepted Paper:

Access is Power: Rural and Indigenous Dependencies in Landscapes of Extraction  
Sebastian Braun (Iowa State University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses the experience of the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota to demonstrate how exclusive data access creates dependencies which multiply pre-existing power differentials in fast-moving development situations, especially for rural and Indigenous communities.

Paper long abstract:

In fast-moving extraction situations, rural and Indigenous communities can become overwhelmed without real-time access to data. They become information dependent on the very companies and states that are implementing the projects that then become irreversible. This paper looks at one example of this complex issue, the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota. It also discusses the search for a solution to the data exclusion and shows the promises and problems with various initiatives, from access to balloon mapping, supposedly accessible satellite imagery, and building an open access geographical data tool for the communities. Access to data is more complicated than simply providing avenues to the data. Political and economic pressures, academic and technical language, ethical concerns, and cultural values can all contribute to the exclusion of people from knowledge critical to their futures. While digital data tools, repositories, and databases theoretically democratize knowledge and therefore power, they can in practice create further power differentials through gatekeeping and in-built necessities for interpretation. Rural and Indigenous communities are often faced with imposed digital landscapes to which they lack access, yet which define their futures.

Panel P10b
Exclusion by design: technology and the shaping of inequalities
  Session 1 Wednesday 8 June, 2022, -