• Louise Romain
4. term, Techno-Anthropology, Master (Master Programme)
Circle of Voices is a three year research project involving Abenaki, Nehirowisiw/Atikamekw and Wolastoqiyik/Maliseet peoples in Quebec, Canada. It addresses the contemporary realities of First Nations’ cultures and identities through the voices of young women and knowledge holders. The project centers on two objectives: undermining stereotypical perceptions or harmful representations of Indigenous people, and enhancing the continuing rise of pride, hope and resilience among Indigenous groups through cultural revitalisation. Cultural revitalisation relates to re-claiming a heritage that is fragmented through time and space, to restoring that which centuries of imperialism tried to annihilate, in the form of regenerating relationships with the land, with ancestral practices, with belief systems and with others. The initial fieldwork from 2016 entailed biographical narratives, multimedia recordings of traditional practices and creative collaborative activities such as participatory photography, sharing circles and intergenerational dance workshops. All these ethnographic materials were arranged on a website with a non-linear navigation (circleofvoices.com) which was launched in December 2017. The last step of the research journey involved a return to Quebec in Autumn 2018 to present the website to the participants, conduct follow-up interviews and gain new insights.
This thesis examines how the project Circle of Voices elicits and mediates anthropological knowledge about cultural revitalisation. Through the lenses of feminist science and technology studies, actor-network theory, post-phenomenology and visual/media anthropology, I investigate how the use of non-human elements - such as photography, web design, or social media - acted as influential mediators to the production of knowledge and shaping of relationships with Indigenous participants. The dynamic information that emerges from these socio-technical encounters is then transposed and classified on the website. I explore how transformations through digital technologies raise concerns around the protection of Indigenous cultural heritage and the reification of the diverse expressions of contemporary Indigeneity. Aside from this, conducting the project as a white, French, female anthropologist with activist engagement, I acknowledge the intricate webs of privilege and oppression where myself and my work are situated. In this light, the thesis reflects on the learnings and challenges of collaboration in contemporary Indigenous contexts. With this writing, I hope to raise awareness of the current realities of First Nations women and youth, unravelling my experiments with technological tools and scientific practices towards socio-political change.
Publication date7 Jun 2019
Number of pages74
ID: 305326956