Digital Colonialism and the hacking coyotes #rp10

“We need to have this conversation”: Renata Avila, Joana Varon, Nanjira Sambula and Alan Mills , discuss Digital Colonialism at Re:publicaTEN, weaving in poetic/historic reflections on the Coyote, hacker-trickster resisting assimilation and annihilation.  In many ways, the subject (sadly as old as the new “free” world) is very relevant to care – access to care, what care, productions of knowledge in care..-  in so far as bodies-minds, are (being made into) territories.

The history of colonization is a history of nature being seized, of exploitation and enslavement of her people, a history of social and medical experimentation on the conquered (typically considered “less human/evolved” than the conqueror : people of color, non christian, women, criminals..), a history of burning witches and shamans, of annihilation and replacement of systems of knowledge and practices… And, of absence of laws, as well as of laws drafted along to make it all look good and straight. Let’s picture this, as it goes on, in times of high connectivity,  hi tech heartless trade, authoritarian regimes equipped with mass surveillance, where markets and governments are so hungry for everyone’s data, and so eager to sell (in Renata Avila’s words) the “utopia that an app can solve serious inequalities” and the very “basic things that need fixing”.  Like for example, connected medical devices will make up for the destruction of community and lack of concern for villages (where there is no doctor) and poor remote people, or competing proprietary devices will empower the sick and disabled when they in fact increase embedded dependencies and vulnerabilities, or like massive medical data collection/analysis will improve the administration of medicine so there will be money saved for social security (and it’s insurance companies making millions and governments spending savings on national security). AS IF.  In a time “when companies mostly from the US have more users than some countries”, as Joana Varon notes, and “the colonized are not only the developing countries anymore”. What we have is an extension of the domain of colonization, ever more apt to penetrate and submit the bodies and minds, everywhere, anytime, all the time.

At one point, Renata Avila notes that paradoxically, some of the best coyotes she knows are disconnected. Can’t help but think very fondly and also, with worry, of the great hackers-coyotes healers out there in the wild. The witches, the shamans, the DIY-DIT doulas, the unlicensed acupuncturists, the herbalist whose shop they close because, you know, not in line with regulations…  How to protect and keep this diverse knowledge and patient care alive still through the years in spite of all the active aggression, passive/aggressive standardization, rampant consent ? What of them if/when they are captured ? In what web ?


Twitter account for the talk : @hackingcoyotes + Digital Colonialism pad

And now, for our spirits, a much loved coyote poem, by Peter Blue Cloud

Coyote, Coyote, Please Tell Me

–  What is a shaman?

A shaman I don’t know

anything about.

I’m a doctor, myself.

When I use medicine,

it’s between me,

my patient,

and the Creation.


Coyote, Coyote, please tell me – what is power?

It is said that power

is the ability to start

your chainsaw

with one pull.


Coyote, Coyote, please tell me – what is magic?

Magic is the first taste

of ripe strawberries, and

magic is a child dancing

in a summer’s rain.


Coyote, Coyote, please tell me – why is Creation?

Creation is because I

went to sleep last night

with a full stomach,

and when I woke up

this morning,

everything was here.


Coyote, Coyote, please tell me who you belong to?

According to the latest

survey, there are certain

persons who, in poetic

or scholarly guise,

have claimed me like

a conqueror’s prize.

Let me just say

once and for all,

just to be done:

Coyote, he belongs to none.