Decolonizing the Digital

Decolonizing the Digital

Humanity has long been defined in ways that support colonialism, centering white, western, European subjects, and excluding colonized peoples. Important to such colonial social projects, too, is the use of the category of woman in creating distinct binaries between genders, and thus reinforcing male superiority. Many humanities disciplines have similarly maintained the importance of the knowledges of people of colonial and neocolonial ruling nations, while defining non-Western ways of knowing as something less than knowledge: custom, tradition, artifact, as described by Walter Mignolo in Local Histories/Global Designs (2012). The adoption of digital technologies does not solve this problem, but may exacerbate it, relying on expensive computational hardware to add layers to existing archives which require knowledge of computational interfaces only available to a few in order to access them. As Ellen Cushman describes in “Wampum, Sequoyan, Story: Decolonizing the Digital Archive,” archives have long been a tool of colonial power.

The scholars and artists in this forum use multiple approaches to challenge colonial legacies and work towards decolonial futures using contemporary digital technologies, including creating artworks, indigenous archives, games and digital scholarship. We hope to invite conversations about the many ways that HASTAC scholars and readers are responding to issues of neocolonialism; indigeneity and settler statuses; postcolonial approaches; white settler colonialism; tensions between decolonization, migration and diaspora; decolonial aesthetics; blackness and decolonization; queer and trans decolonization in local, transnational and global contexts.

Roopika Risam writes, in a course description for a forthcoming course on de/postcolonial digital humanities: "How might we begin to rethink the colonial topographies, architectures, and networks that so often structure emerging digital media/technologies? New conversations have emerged around essential questions: can the digital be 'decolonized?'; what are the limits of decolonial, postcolonial, or anti-colonial approaches to digital cultures?; and how can these theoretical approaches be marshaled to build communities, tools, and justice?" [1]

Together, through this forum, we hope to explore questions at the intersections of theory and praxis as we consider how tools can be theorized, hacked, and used in service of decolonization. This forum invites participants to: 1) analyze ways that the history and present processes of colonization, decolonization, neocolonialism and the postcolonial are (re)produced in digital mediums with special attention to local, hemispheric and global contexts; 2) examine the possible intersections of digital technologies with humanities disciplines such as art, literature and performance, and how they produce, reproduce or enact processes of colonization; and 3) propose new and/or alternative technologies, or new uses of existing technologies, that work against colonization and post-colonial legacies that maintain social injustice.

Links / Resources

[1] Note: This forum emerged out of conversations between micha cárdenas and Roopika Risam in relation to a proposal for a panel on these topics at the upcoming HASTAC 2015 conference and their forthcoming course “De/Post/Colonial Digital Humanities” at the Humanities Intensive Learning and Teaching institute at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The questions quoted in this paragraph have been written by Roopika Risam.

Forum hosts: micha cárdenas, Noha F Beydoun and Alainya Kavaloski

Invited Contributors: Roopika Risam, Alexandrina Agloro, Maria Cotera, Elizabeth LaPensée, Siobahn Senier

Banner Image: Elizabeth Lapensee, "Bitwork Beadwork: Seeding the Stars, 2015"

14 comments

Hello all and welcome! We're looking forward to your comments, questions and input towards a generative conversation! 

I'm excited to see the synergy of events around questions of decolonization, the postcolonial and the digital recently, from Roopika Risam's brilliant keynote at the recent 2015 HASTAC conference, to the upcoming HILT  Institute course we're planning on colonial aspects of DH at Indiana University. 

In short, we want to invite conversations about how dynamics of colonialism, how relations between the global south and the global north, between natives and settlers, shape and inform our practices of digital humanities, digital media art and games, and to talk about what can be done to move forward with improving, or redefining, our practices, based on these consideratons. 

We have picked a great group of scholars and artists to be in dialog with, and now that folks are back from the HASTAC conference in Michigan, and the semester is winding down, we can all settle in for an exciting coversation over the summer! 

I look forward to hearing about your projects and to hearing questions and thoughts. 

thank you, 

  micha

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We hope to have some exciting conversations around the issues posted above. Please feel free to jump into the conversation and ask, comment, or tell us about your own related work.

I would like to begin with Roopika Risam's question above: "How might we begin to rethink the colonial topographies, architectures, and networks that so often structure emerging digital media/technologies?" I am intereseted in the ways that screens and their networked spaces might represent bounded geographies---and by extension colonized spaces. Screens, like maps, are defined spaces (or rectangles) that limit the ways we imagine fraught territories. But unlike paper maps they also have the ability to show a depth of networked information within the screen. How do various media platforms confine the ways we experience landscapes, and how do they open up experimental possibilites for challenging fixed borders and identities? 

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I really like your question, Alainya.  It makes me think about some indigenous cartographic practices in the northeast.  In her book _The Common Pot_, Lisa Brooks (Abenaki) has pointed out that Native people here have a tradition of birchbark maps, often tacked to trees or carved directly into trees.  In her reading, these maps aren't so much about borders as they are about connections: showing people the direction you've gone, indicating networks of relations and paths or waterways that connect you to others, to gathering places. The word for these maps is "awikhigan," and even the borders between genres aren't stable, as the word over time came to mean "book." So to Brooks, the "map" is "an instrument. . .for transmitting an image or idea from one mind to another, over waterways, over time."

Even thinking about something really simple (and inescapably capitalist) like Facebook, indigenous people use it (and Google maps) all the time to convene indigenous and non-indigenous people in defense of "actual" landscapes.  There's a campaign out of Maine right now called "Dawnland Environmental Defense," which is using a FB page to help protect the Penobscot River and Penobscot tribal nation's stewardship of that river. A FB page: so boxy and limited and monetized!  And yet the organizers use it to redeploy traditional indigenous narratives about greedy water monsters (analogous to the corporations threatening the Penobscot River and surrounding territories); to gather signatures on petitions; and to call people to protests in front of state buildings.  It is amassing some serious political capital, too, as municipalities along the river begin to withdraw from the state's case against the tribe (which is attempting to hold on to its sovereignty over the water).

So, is this decolonizing Facebook?  I don't know. As a literary scholar, I'm always torn between the constraints of the "text itself" and the myriad ways people can USE the text!

 

 

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Hello Alainya, 

Thank you for this comment. Your question about the ways that screens, like maps, shape our thinking reminds me of the story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges, "On Exactitude in Science," which imagined a map of the empire that was the size of the empire itself. In a way, through computation, screens can be that, offering more information than is useful through a kind of window. Can you say more about the ways that screens are colonized spaces? And how do you think this works with multiple screens of different sizes, like mobile phone screens, or Occulus Rift headsets, in relation to colonialism?

thanks!

  micha

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I’ve spent the past three semesters concocting an alternate reality game about social movement history specific to people of color in Providence, RI, called The Resisters. The game was imagined and designed with young people of color using historical archives about local activism. You can see the entire digital archive of the game at TheResisters.org.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can decolonize ourselves through creative practice, and for me through interactive and digital media. To that end, much of my research and creative practice is in critical media pedagogy based in communities of color, because representation matters. Working with young people of color, many have already delineated work in technology as a “white thing,” inaccessible and unattainable. My work is to get young people of color interested in technological practices, especially creative expression, because their voices matter.

It’s also important to remind ourselves that technology is just the tool and not the entire lesson. So how can we decolonize our digital technologies while remaining firmly anchored in our bodies and lived experiences?  Here are some tools that I use and carry into my digital work:

-       Linda Tuhiwai Smith in her book Decolonizing Methodologies (1999) says, “Decolonization, however, does not mean and has not meant a total rejection of all theory or research or Western knowledge. Rather it is about cent[er]ing our concerns and world views and then coming to know and understand theory and research from our own perspectives and for our own purposes (p. 39). For me, this means that just because our digital tools probably emerged out of some colonial or structure of surveillance, they do not need to be completely rejected. Instead we remix and repurpose them for our needs.

-       Suspend damage-based research. Eve Tuck questions how we can truly decolonize ourselves when we continue to think of ourselves as broken, and have research contining to tell us this. There is much to say about technological lack in communities of color, but there is also so much technological improvisational genius happening too. To stay entrenched in social justice work, I have to place myself on the utopianist end of the outcome spectrum. And this includes focusing my work on imagination and possibility instead of lack. I choose hope.

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What a fantastic project, Alexandrina!  I am wondering what kinds of data you kept about your players, and whether you got many Narragansett (or other Native youth) from the area involved.  Will you be working in New England for awhile?  I ask because the Tomaquag Museum in Exeter, RI, would be really interested in your work, I bet.

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My project was qualitative, so their parameters for inclusion in the project were: between the ages of 14-23, identified as Black, Latin@, Asian American, and/or Native American. Over time, they disclosed and I learned more about their gender identification and sexual orientation. I had a fairly small sample size (5 co-designers and 12 games players) and while a few of the game players identified as Native, their tribal affiliations were not local. So for this quick project I didn't have any Narragansett youth. But, one of the historical figures from our game was Christiana Carteaux Bannister, a mixed Narragansett/Black hair salon entrepreneur and abolitionist.

I will continue to be in New England for a while! I'll be teaching at Worcester Polytechnic Insitute in their Interactive Media and Game Development program.

And I'm familiar with the Tomaquag Museum- I sat at a table with a few of their young people at an arts conference a few summers ago. I love working with museums, and Tomaquag is on my wishlist :)

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This is again is helpful, as your critical media pedagogy is useful for all under-represented groups: and especially when framed in the positive (non-damage):

for me, a few points emerge from your lovely work, and comments:

* the tech is always a tool. how it is used needs to be highlighted, so it is overt, rather than covert :)

* voice - how do we elicit, coax-out the voice that is suppressed? the minority, the supressed, taboo, etc?

* the digital / virtual / - coaxing the vocal / visible expression of those unheard is HUGELY enabled though the digital: (e.g. online communities of queer africans like me met IRL after meeting online in the 90s..)

* yes, we would love to have "born-queer" or "born-native" tools, spaces and so on: but there is nothing wrong with remix: take and use and shape and tapestry what works, make it yours. there is a long history of re-appropriation by marginialised communities of slurs, so why not tools/ content / anything we like?

and this is a methodology issue: so thanks for the refs: will be checking these out:

and it is all wrapped in a social justice context: amplify that which we want / is positive / heralds innovation, improvisation, solution and abundant positive -

Don't you think... the research of lack and deficit has long been practiced by the research of the "other". Let's reclaim the "own voice" element of focus on that utopian end of the spectrum... agreed!

 

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Hi Everyone,

I'm so excited that this forum is up and running, and I'm really looking forward to some thoughtful conversations regarding digital media and colonialism. Thank you in advance for participating, and thank you to the hardwork thus far by my fellow forum co-hosts Micha and Alainya :D

We've talked about the digital can be a space in which we challenge our preconcieved notions of territories and boundaries, and our understanding of different parts of the world we have previously been conditioned to think of through predispositions. As perhaps a case study example of these relationships and how digital venues reorient our understanding of the larger global world: my own interest in this work, and in specific where I find myself in the Digital Humanities network stems from a project I have been working on that examines the ways Arab women in the Middle East are increasingly using Digital venues to represent themselves and play an active role in community issues. I gave an in-depth report about the increasing trends of Information Communication Technology (ICT's, which include blogging, social networking, etc) usages by Arab women at our recent HASTAC conference. My ultimate question was: How might examining these platforms influence our understanding of Middle Eastern women against that which is constantly perpetuated about "oppressed" women who need saving in the Middle East by popular media?

The point, of course, isn't to suggest that there aren't oppressed women in the Middle East--degrees of oppression exist all over the world including within the United States. Nor is it to examine digital platforms to prove the ways that Arab women are "just like American woman." In Covering Islam Edward Said in fact cautioned against such a pitfall, beacuse he says even within the United States ideals such as feminism and democracy are constantly evolving and not universally agreed upon. However, what is important is the ways in which ICT's can offer us a new space of connection and understanding with the broader global world. While Arab women for me was the subject of specific examination and interest, I am eager to expand this idea to the broader global network. 

What do you all think?

Noha Beydoun

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Noha, is your report (or any of the sites and practices you refer to therein) available anywhere online?  I'm writing a syllabus this summer for a freshman-level course on Internet Feminism(s), during which we'll be wrestling with precisely some of the questions and issues you outline here.  I want students to examine some of the claims that regularly get made about digital activism (whether it's extolled as triumphant or dismissed as silly), against the diversity of practices, effects. . .and also feminisms, for that matter.  From your POV, what are some of the most exciting venues in which you see Middle Eastern women exercising their agency? (that is probably one place to START, with freshmen in New Hampshire.  We can complicate it afterwards!)

And just on the theme of decolonizing the digital: I wish HASTAC didn't require passwords for commentary.  I know, spam and trolls, spam and trolls.  But I have participated in online forums on other sites, where (for instance) Native American elders or artists have had really interesting things to say. . .and sent me their comments via Facebook, because they didn't want to create another password for one conversation.  Passwords SEEM like a low bar for digital literacy, but they're not, always (I myself had to do a reset for this site: I was invested, but in most cases, once I've been led down the reset path, I'm out).

 

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I am actually working on publishing the longer version of the presentation, but I would be happy to send the presentation to you--or at least a brief handout that includes some helpful links with websites you can show your students. 

The report I did sort of did an overview of different areas/countries of the Middle East and the rise in usage in different areas based on recent political and social movements happening in those countries. Overall, there has been an increase in Information Communicative Technologies (ICT"S) all across the Middle East by women. ICT's include blogs, social media, email, etc. Blogging offers an informal space where women can both formally and informally voice their concerns, and generally there has been the most increase in usage with this specific venue in countries such as Egypt and Lebanon after corresponding political activies (the Arab Spring and the 2006 Intifada).

As a starting point on digital activism, I like to point out the following blogs: 

Narmeena from Egypt who was active during the Arab Spring and even before. Her blogs range from personal, to political digitial activism, to even women's rights: https://nerro.wordpress.com

I also like to point to Rasha Salti's blog. Rasha Salti is a Lebanese popular journalist and news anchor, but still turns to blogging as she records nearly minute by minute event details on a massacre as well as political information on Intifada of 2006: http://www.rashasalti.blogspot.com

Its also interesting to note that many of these blogs are written in English--which is not the primary language of Middle Eastern countries. Here, I suggest that these blogs are specifically written to reach larger audiences beyond even the Middle East and to perhaps take agency of representing themselves against mainstream popular outlets across the world. 

Id love to chat about this further, let me know if I can help in any other way!

Noha

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What a necessary conversation:

First an explanation of my title - i am a practitioner, an African, a maker of educational media in South Africa - hence the praxis bit. 

Then, we need to explain that hideous made-up word: "loadshedding": here in my country, we have a power crisis, the consequence of which is that one cannot anticipate when there will be electricity, and when you get cut - blackouts / powercuts / the switch is then switched by the power untility company - this is planned, as a way to stop the ultimate blackout, to save sufficient megawatts of power to ensure the entire system shuts down to the point where it wont be able to reboot it again - i.e. a cold start. Well thats what I gather from the info we get: http://loadshedding.eskom.co.za/loadshedding/description  so assumptions

So when we talk lanscapes - as people doing the work, (and of course later theorising the work, but to start, its always about what we Do what we MAKE, what er CONTRIBUTE: because this is a life where those who can better bloody do it) - sorry the side points got out of hand there - but that is what the digital should do - allow rich, alternate paths of side issues to get centre stage... but I digress again.

we talk practical stuff like timezones we work in, that the one you are in is your normal - just that those in the majority and those in power dont see that they have normalised their one perspective...

and seasonal variations: the hegemony of the north as "normal" is a bit like privelege: its invisible to those who swim in it: yes, we are in the southern hemisphere, which means that when those in the Northern Hemisphere refer to "Spring Break" its Autumn here. No we dont call it Fall. When you have snow at Christmas, we have watermelon and a summer holiday.

The de-colonising of the new options, means we dont need to replace hegemony with inherited hegemony. We can change who is invited to the conversation, who gets to lead the agenda, who gets to make the topics. This is the chance for us to be "Born digital" "born different" new values and principles, open, exposed, clear shared. Not only crowd-sourced, but the crowd is not the same crew, the usual buch. What if we were conscious of who was previosuly not invited to the party, if we were silent, allowing space for new voices? Oh the utopia of normalising the fringe: my queer family would be standard, and we would write supportive columns for those poor youth with opposite-attraction, how we should try to tolerate that difference, and how to explain this to Great Aunties Gertrude and Ethel. 

So the first thing to do to decolonise the digital is to problematise the assumptions. Tell the stories that are detailed, rich, specific, and different from the ones you always hear. Turn it all on its head, have an anti-gravity policy where you declare the lenses you use to speak from. Where those are problematised, where you needed to seek first to hear what is not your reality, and to make space for that before you launch into your usual monologue of priveleged assumptions.

How do we make "born post-colonial, born post-modern" work in the digital humanities?

Seek out the silent voices. Encourage and insist on "othering" the normal, and normalising the presence and loud self-stories of the other.

Step back, declare your assumptions, declare your critical lens, and have the grace to problematise these. But first be silent, seek the silent cues of those who wish to offer input into this space.

(Now i see i have launched into the theory, and despite my claims, left the practice for a bit further down the page.  So here it is: the work we attempt:

From the chalkface - here in Africa, it may mean more than just going digital in order to be accessible: start with who gets access - who is in the room, who speaks, what language are they using? Are they using their first language or third language to contribute to the theory, the discourse. Are they first in their family to ...? That needs to be given more credibility than those who are speaking the same inherited discourse of generations. That is a liability - they are not "born post-colonial" they carry the generational assumtions that need to be unlearnt.

Yes, when we go digital, is it from the ground up, or are we digitusing the parchments? That is replication in a new media, it is not qualitatively different - the canon does not need to be replicated, it needs to be crowsourced, new model for what counts as knowledge. If we use the new tools with only the old functions, we are using the Apple Macbooks as typewriters. What in the tools of the ditital knowledge production workflow are DIFFERENT in their nature? Can we count them? see them and use them in new ways that maybe others never imagined before?

We at Bright Media - my company, a social enterprise, we develop formats that I now call “digital-plus” in other words using “old” media like print, training, face-to-face (especially) some element of “face-to-face” interaction:in addition. Many ways, old and new ways, layered, used together, used with the strength of each of the media, for the thing they do best...

Why do we need to say, yes, ditial, but not either/or - but ALSO: hence,  “digital-plus”...

Because you need to see the world outside of the water of your fishbowl: ask what can you access? 

Assumption checklist #1 - ASK - Do you have things like:

  • a safe space to be in to do the work you seek to do? A physical space, a conducive space? What would you change, what do you need help to shift so that this works for you?
  • If we have all the knowledge of the world on open access, freely available, digitised, free - ask who is in the room: who can access this?
  • Name those barriers: electric power, hardware, does the software recognise your vocabulary, does the keyboard have letters that match the ones you use? Does Wikipedia assume you live in another country? Does your software or hardware have technical support, or is that assumed to be elsewhere? Does the plug socket on your tools have to be adapted to the holes that are standard in your wall? Or do you carry an adaptor like me?
  • Do you have reliable and aligned space for the work you seek to do?
  • Can you have quiet work time when you need it?
  • Is your travel expensive, excessive,
  • Are you in danger? Is your home / work space dangerous,
  • Are you the only one of your skin tone /culture / language in your space? Does your lunchbox look different? Can you find the food you feel comfortable happy to eat? Are you hungry?
  • Does your difference result in exclusion? Silencing? Self-censorship? Bullying? Does you - just being yourself result in threats? harm? dismissal? rape? death? 

yes there is a pause there. Because you must know, being me, being a lesbian in my country: it is context: patriarchy, compounded with violence, with silencing and "othering". http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/07/26/opinion/26corrective-rape.html?_r=0

How able do you feel to concentrate on work now? How do you give your academic best to a room full of people, with this context in your head? Concentrate in school? Plan for your future? And the assumption we are all on an even playing field still persists...

  • Is the timezone for you, the same as the people you work with? Whose timezone is priveleged to be during working hours and who gets the 3 am shift?
  • Is your home time shceudled to fit with work's expectations? Is the baby asleep/ with care/ when your project deadline looms. Is there space/food/ is it animal feeding time or harvest at the same time you have to attend that un-conference. And how on earth would you mention this to the team?

We have the opportunity to get through the “digital-divide walls”

Let me be less literal - when shifting the floor beneath the feet of the one who is most comfortable - imagine you are a parent - your job is to elicit equitable time to hear and appreciate a loud child and a quiet child from two cultures;   It means a hard conversation with your extrovert child, the one who speaks loud, and first, to say - "wait your turn" - "keep it in your head" - offer the quiet brother the option to answer first: wait, encourage him, see the shift of his head and the brightness of his eyes that signal in his culture that he is ready to speak, to contribute. We need to comfort the discomforted, and disrupt the confident. That is how to shift colonial / patriarchal inheritences and canons of "its always been this way". http://www.diverseo.com/publications/diverseo-how-to-reduce-unconscious-bias/   And its easier to learn from nothing than to unlearn bias, unlearn privelege, unlearn positions of power, right or disempowement and self-silencing.

So more on the context of the "other" like me:

What is it like to have contextual barriers to the promise of the new dgital dawn?

What is it like to have already shifted to laptops, as they contine when the power goes off - how do we convey the innovation, the solutions, the smart, amazing work that is done, when we are the only ones forced to speak of context, barriers, of things we experience here - like electricity unreliably; infrastructure irregularities, cost barriers to access like expensive hardware; security problems unimagined elsewhere:

There is a solution: get the declaration of context to be universal: I want to know how it feels when the plug of yout PC fits into the wall socket with no adapter, because its "normal"; how you can mention at the meeting your plans with your spouse, because your relatuionship is "normal"; when you dont have to avoid pronouns when discussing the one you love, or any mention of your spouse is too much info - where you weigh the cost of walking in the street, or where mention of these issues makes you somehow a victim instead of a survivor, and it detracts from how you are seen professionally. So now we ask all to declare that which discomforts them. And we privelege the other over the normal as our standard.

What is our aim? to ensure digital openness is in fact accessible to those who need it most: when the digital is inaccessible for whatever reason, it means we need to let the silent speak, and invite conversations that are uncomfortable, and that challenge, disrupt, and turn gravity, allowing new conversations, often where we become the second-language learners for a change.

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The questions you raise in your assumption checklist are so relevant! Especially entering into projects questioning the norms of dominant culture. Here in the US, we're working toward a particular kind of decolonization-- one of long term settler colonialism engrained into dominant culture. How decolonization manifests to South African media makers probably shapes up in a different way.

In light of so much racial violence aimed at Black and other people of color in the US currently: the question I wonder is if those facing oppression are responsible for shifting the structural inequality that could bring about their own liberation? Within this conversation about decolonizing the digital: can the colonized "decolonize the digital" on their own?

From your perspective and with South Africa's own history of race and racism, how do you see these things playing out in your country?

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Hello all, what an interesting, thoughtful, provocative conversation! I’d like to take up Ingrid’s thread and talk about praxis. Specifically the ways in which producing our scholarly work via digital modalities transforms the normative relations of production that determine how knowledge gets circulated in and outside of the academy. The questions (some of which have been articulated in previous posts) of who gets to speak, who is given interpretive authority, and how our knowledge moves in and through communities in struggle are central to my digital praxis, which over the last six years has focused on collecting and making available oral histories and personal archival collections of Chicanas who were active in the 1960s and 1970s. This is of course a deeply collaborative endeavor (primary collaborators include Afro-Chicana filmmaker Linda Garcia Merchant, digital archivist Maria Seiferle Valencia, and a host of Chicanas who have contributed their stories and archives to the project), one that from the get-go has reshaped common and, by now universal, scripts about how knowledge gets produced in the academy. The urgency of this project arises from the fact that these stories have not been told, and that their absence from our collective archive of struggle is not an accident, but in fact, an intentional, structural, and still active form of “silencing the past” (Michel-RolphTrouillot). In this sense the Chicana por mi Raza digital memory project represents an active decolonization of the archive and of the field of knowledge about “what happened” in the US civil rights struggles of the1960s and 1970s. But there is another, perhaps more urgent, question at the heart of the project: whether and to what extent we as scholars are willing to “give up the ghost” of our authority as singular interpreters and producers of knowledge. When I initiated the project in 2009, we in the academy (particularly those of us in the fields of Women’s Studies and Critical Ethnic Studies) were experiencing a decade long “boom” in the discussion of “decolonization.” While books, dissertations, articles and conferences were dedicated to unpacking the gendered, racial, classed, and heternormative ideologies of colonization, these interventions were waged largely within the very structures of power (and through its modalities-including grants, institutions, university presses) that were the residue of 500 years of conquest and settler colonialism. In other words, while scholars, including myself, were busily deconstructing the ideologies of power that had been constituted in and through conquest and colonization, our relations of knowledge production (individuated, interpretive, competitive) remained largely unquestioned. Thinking back to the 1970s and to the work of the many women of color whose legacy I wanted to “recover”, I was struck by the fact that so many of them produced articles, books, speeches, and bibliographies outside the aegis of the academy. Their theoretical work (the legacy of which we currently see in our syllabi and bibliographies) was directly informed by the contradictions they experienced on multiple fronts of struggle as they attempted to nuance nationalism’s and feminism’s singular optics and craft a theory of experience that could account for multiple and intersecting forms of oppression. These theoretical articulations, in turn, shaped the strategies and tactics that they deployed within social movements (Norma Alarcon, Chela Sandoval, et al). This was knowledge-making outside the academy, intended for consciousness-raising, but also strategic, forged in the push and pull of active public engagement and resistance.  So for me, it was as important to visibilize and replicate, as much as possible, knowledge-making as an active, on-the-ground praxis. And it seemed that the affordances of the digital offered an opportunity to step outside of the knowledge-making machine, to question the relations of production that inevitably transformed our decolonizing moves into the books, articles, conference papers that had been confined to a new kind of “enclosure” — the academic industrial complex. Instead of producing yet another book in which I would tell the story (however nuanced) of Chicanas in the 1960s and 1970s, I wanted to create a space where new kinds of knowledges, and more importantly, new relations of knowledge production might be produced through active exchange. There are, of course, a host of contradictions and limitations to this, and they are worth discussing in this forum, but I don’t want this post to get too lengthy. I will say, in closing, that the project has, in fact, recalibrated the way that I understand my place as a scholar in the academy as well as my understanding of how knowledge is produced, exchanged, and authorized.

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