Environmental Justice in the Digital Age
Welcome to my cultural anthropology blog– a digital humanist space dedicated to educational justice, indigenous rights, feminist ecology and my latest research as an ethnographer in the Andes of South America.
In a recent blog post, THINK Global School’s Jamie Steckart observes: “Facebook was launched in 2004 and in 2007 the first iPhone came on the market…In 2010 the Arab Spring lit up the Internet. Average citizens with a smart phone began using that technology in ways never seen before…Had the Dakota Access Pipeline been built prior to 2010, no one would have known that the company was carving a path through the Standing Rock’s ancient burial grounds. It would have been just another unrecorded tragedy”.
More and more, indigenous peoples across the globe are harnessing radio and digital media to mobilize resistance against the nonconsensual development of their territories by nation states. While they constitute only 5% of the global population, indigenous peoples represent nearly one-third of the rural and extremely poor.
These rural communities are experiencing accelerating rates of land dispossession due to mining and resource extraction, with local leaders risking incarceration as protest is increasingly criminalized (United Nations 2010). Women’s wellbeing is particularly impacted as rates of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and maternal health complications skyrocket in communities experiencing extractive development (Jenkins 2014).
To resist the nonconsensual development of their land, indigenous peoples are making new use of digital media for the ability to engage broader public sympathies and the power of international witness.
With increasing news coverage of indigenous faces and stories of resistance to environmental degradation, international attention seems to be consistently sympathetic to the media image and voice of women as defenders of the Earth (Alaimo 2016).
But how are indigenous women, in turn, harnessing digital activism towards their own collective ecological and personal empowerment?
Alaimo, Stacey 2016 Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times. University of Minnesota Press.
Jenkins, Katy 2014 Women, Mining and Development: An Emerging Research Agenda. The Extractive Industries and Society (1).