Prof. Candis Callison is attending the American Anthropology Association’s annual meeting next week to present a paper titled, “Countering Colonialism: #Idlenomore As Emergent Middle Ground.”

The talk is based on research she has conducted with Prof. Alfred Hermida at UBC’s SMARTTLab.

It is part of a panel session entitled “Indigenous Experts: The Technopolitics of Recognition in North America.” The talk will be given on Dec. 5, 2014 in Washington DC.

Here is the abstract:

In 2012, the Canadian government passed two omnibus budget bills (C-38 and C-45) that quietly transformed the regime governing environmental protection and risk assessment. Started by four women in Saskatchewan, the “Idle No More” (INM) began in response specifically to the portions of Bill C45 that removed the vast majority of protections for navigable waters and proposed structural changes in the governance of First Nations communities. INM messages spread across the country, and in small doses, around the world largely via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. While protests have cooled, INM remains an active movement.

This paper is based on an analysis of 741,000 tweets using the #Idlenomore hashtag at the height of the movement (December 2012 to January 2013) that found indigenous voices and several mainstream media (some openly opposed to INM) were the most retweeted, forming a new kind of crowd-sourced elite. Drawing on both Richard White’s historical concept and James Clifford’s anthropological idea, this paper argues that #Idlenomore produces a terrain for negotiation, a kind of “middle ground” where strength on all sides offsets the other, demanding articulations and accountability for expertise about and the ability to speak for INM. Such a theoretical approach offers non-reductive insight into how engagement with networked technologies neutralizes, challenges or reinforces the power of media institutions to construct social realities, and how the presence of a middle ground might reconfigure expertise and discourses about colonialism, environmental protection, and shared history in a Canadian context.

Prof Callison’s new book, How Climate Change Comes to Matter: The Communal Life of Facts, is out on Dec. 5, published by Duke University Press.