Networking Peripheries and Network Sovereignty

  • Both Chan and Duarte emphasize new possibilities / futures that can be imagined by understanding cultural, social and political aspects of networks: how they function and work to create, manage and define systems of power
  • Both focus on contemporary indigenous situations that are part of ongoing colonial power arrangements and the conditions necessary to keep these systems in place
  • Both focus on political, historical, and social structures to understand digital affordances and knowledge production
  • Both call into question the rhetoric of innovation and how it functions to marginalize and erase Indigenous and local systems, platforms, tools etc
  • Both emphasize the place-based nature of understanding how networks, digital technology – and ICTs in particular—work at many different registers (cultural, political, economic…)
  • Both intervene into standard assumptions about people and relationships and how those play into the construction, use, management and sustainability of ICTs specifically, but digital technology more broadly
  • Duarte significantly intervenes by providing a methodology based in reframing and adopting decolonizing methodologies to study with and alongside Indigenous knowledge systems.
  • Duarte focuses her readers on the epistemic blindness of normative theories and methodologies
  • Duarte emphasizes a broad and dynamic understanding of sovereignty in Indian Country

Another source that I find very useful is Wallace and Tsosie’s articleRethinking the Tribal Sovereignty Doctrine: Cultural Sovereignty and the Collective Future of Indian Nations (2001) where they call for a shift in understanding sovereignty that is at once more broad and at the same time emphasizes Indigenous perspectives:

It is time for a reappraisal of the tribal sovereignty doctrine—one that is based in the conceptions of sovereignty held by Indian nations and which responds to the challenges that confront Indian nations today. This account of inherent sovereignty should embody cultural sovereignty: that is, the effort of Indian nations and Indian people to exercise their own norms and values in structuring their collective futures. Inherent sovereignty is not dependent upon any grant, gift or acknowledgement by the federal government. It preexists the arrival of the European people and the formation of the United States. Cultural sovereignty is inherent in every sense of that word, and it is up to Indian people today to define, assert, protect, and insist upon respect for that right (emphasis added; 195-96).

Similarly, if you are not familiar with the contours, reshaping and use of the doctrine of discovery, Native scholar David Wilkins provides a great overview and sums up its impact: “Despite historical facts, the legal fiction of the discovery doctrine endures.” We see in Duarte’s account of broadband that this doctrine is still influencing –limiting and defining–how the Internet is accessed, mobilized and structured. Her argument that we need to first “focus on material aspects of the Internet” (141) leads us back to these formative policies, laws and practices.