RavenSpace Books Unbound

1. Abstract

This poster addresses tensions that arise in publishing Indigenous studies scholarship in a digital environment. It takes RavenSpace as its case study, a new publishing platform for media-rich, networked, interactive books in Indigenous studies where communities and scholars can work together to share and create knowledge. Developed by UBC Press along with the University of Washington Press and other partners, and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the platform respects Indigenous protocols for accessing and using cultural heritage and traditional knowledge while meeting the standards of peer-reviewed academic publishing. It enables authors to present their own work and to recontextualize materials already online in accord with Indigenous protocols for attribution, control, care, and sharing. It offers multiple paths through projects to reach different audiences.

Indigenous communities and scholars increasingly shape their research to serve the needs and priorities of the communities involved, including their cultural preservation and revitalization efforts, educational initiatives, and capacity building goals, among others. As the M?ori scholar and educator Linda Tuhiwai Smith writes, “Indigenous research seeks to ... find the new/old solutions that restore Indigenous being in the world. The impacts are part of an intergenerational long game of decolonization, societal transformation, healing and reconciliation, and the recovery of a world where all is well.”[1] Of relevance to the public digital humanities and open data movements that some participate in, Indigenous scholars and community experts want to present their research in innovative ways that engage and are tailored to the various scholarly, community, and public audiences they aim to reach. In light of the historical misappropriation of Indigenous cultural heritage, they are also concerned with developing protocols for accessing and protecting that heritage in the digital domain.[2]

There is an ongoing tension between Indigenous concerns and the open data movement within public digital humanities, since digital “repatriation” has often resulted in Indigenous materials being dumped online, decontextualized and open to the world. Traditional publishing models also fail to meet new needs. Neither the old authorial hierarchies nor the limitations of the printed book do justice to the research currently being carried out by Indigenous communities and scholars. How can publishers develop new modes of publishing that respond to contemporary scholarship and learning in Indigenous studies, are accountable to the Indigenous peoples involved in the projects, and respect Indigenous protocols for the control, use, and sharing of their cultural knowledge and materials?[3]

This poster focuses on the technical and social infrastructure developed for this purpose in RavenSpace. It demonstrates the tools and methods designed to address these questions in a digital space, including adaptable approaches to establishing protocols for the respectful use of cultural content and processes that support collaborative authorship. It explains how the academic publishers involved in RavenSpace have expanded the peer review process to include both academic and community review. It also point people to the first RavenSpace publication, As I Remember It, by Sliammon Elder Elsie Paul with Davis McKenzie, Paige Raibmon, and Harmony Johnson, published in 2019.[4]

[1] Linda Tuhwei Smith, “The Art of the Impossible – Defining and Measuring Indigenous Research?,” in Dissident Knowledge in Higher Education, ed. Marc Spooner and James McNinch (Regina: University of Regina Press, 2018), 38. See also: Margaret Kovach, Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts.(2009) University of Toronto Press.; Shawn Wilson, Research Is Ceremony. 2008, Fernwood Publishing.

[2] See, for example, Deirdre Brown and George Nicholas, “Protecting Indigenous Cultural Property in the Age of Digital Democracy: Institutional and Communal Responses to Canadian First Nations and Maori Heritage Concerns,” Journal of Material Culture 17, no. 3 (2012): 307–24; Kimberly Christen, “Does Information Really Want to Be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness,” International Journal of Communication 6 (2012): 2870–93, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/1618; Mark Turin, “Ownership, Control, Access & Possession in Open Access Humanities Publishing.” ScholarLed 10-21-2019 [accessed October 22, 2019] https://blog.scholarled.org/ownership-control-access-possession-in-oa-humanities-publishing/; David Gaertner and Karyn Recollet, “Indigenous Digital Pedagogy.” Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments. Modern Language Association (2018) [accessed October 22, 2019] https://digitalpedagogy.mla.hcommons.org/keywords/indigenous/; Robin Boast and Jim Enote, “Virtual Repatriation: It Is Neither Virtual nor Repatriation.” Heritage in the Context of Globalization, Springer Briefs in Archaeology (2013) 8: 103-113; Jane Anderson and Kimberley Christen. “‘Chuck a Copyright on it': Dilemmas of Digital Return and the Possibilities for Traditional Knowledge Licenses and Labels.” Museum Anthropology Review (2013) 7:105-126; Kate Hennessy, “Cultural Heritage on the Web: Applied Digital Visual Anthropology and Local Cultural Property Rights Discourse.” International Journal of Cultural Property (2012) 19:345-369; and Amber Ridington and Kate Hennessy, “Building Indigenous Agency Through Web-Based Exhibition: Dane-Wajich – Dane-zaa Stories and Songs: Dreamers and the Land.” Proceedings of Museums and the Web 2008 [accessed October 22, 2019] https://www.museumsandtheweb.com/mw2008/papers/ridington/ridington.html.

[3] Darcy Cullen and Alan Bell, “The Social Text and Networked Knowledge: New Modes of Scholarly Book Publishing in Indigenous Studies.” Journal of Scholarly Publishing 49(2), 193-212.

[4] [accessed October 22, 2019] http://publications.ravenspacepublishing.org/as-i-remember-it

Darcy Cullen (cullen@ubcpress.ca), UBC Press, Canada, Beth Fuget (bfuget@uw.edu), University of Washington Press, United States of America and Amber Ridington (ridington@ubcpress.ca), UBC Press, Canada

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