Neither big data, nor data justice are particularly new. Data collection, in the form of land surveys and mapping, was key to successive projects of European imperialist and then capitalist extraction of natural resources. Geo-spatial instruments have been used since the fifteenth century to highlight potential sites of mineral, oil, and gas extraction, and inscribe European economic, cultural and political control across indigenous territories. Although indigenous groups consistently challenged maintained their territorial sovereignty, and resisted corporate and state surveillance practices, they were largely unable to withstand the combined onslaught of surveyors, armed personnel, missionaries and government bureaucrats. This article examines the use of counter-mapping by indigenous nations in Canada, one of the globe’s hubs of extractivism, as part of the exercise of indigenous territorial sovereignty. After a brief review of the colonial period, I then compare the use of counter-mapping during two cycles of indigenous mobilization. During the 1970s, counter-mapping projects were part of a larger repertoire of negotiations with the state over land claims, and served to re-inscribe first nation’s long-standing history of economic, social and cultural relations in their territories, and contribute to new collective imaginaries and identities. In the current cycle of contests over extractivism and indigenous sovereignty, the use, scope and geographic scale of counter-mapping has shifted; maps are used as part of larger trans-media campaigns of Indigenous sovereignty. During both cycles, counter-mapping as data justice required fusion within larger projects of redistributive, transformative and restorative justice.
Dorothy Kidd (2019) Extra-activism: counter-mapping and data justice, Information, Communication & Society, 22:7, 954-970, DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2019.1581243