Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz is Appointed Canada Research Chair in Digital Indigeneities

Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz is Appointed Canada Research Chair in Digital Indigeneities

On June 10, 2022, 1:00 p.m., Bishop’s University will officially announce the appointment of Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz, Assistant Professor of the Department of Sociology, as a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Digital Indigeneities. To begin the event, The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau and The Honourable Geneviève Hébert will say a few words. Then, Dr. Llanes-Ortiz will hold a Storytelling Panel discussion with a few guests, during which they will exchange stories on how they envision and understand the role digital media currently play or should play in the protection and reclamation of Indigenous ways of knowing. This activity will take place in the Bishop’s Library Learning Commons Agora, and is open to the public.

Dr. Genner Llanes-OrtizIndigenous peoples employ multiple technologies to preserve and promote their history, languages, and knowledge. This revitalization movement sometimes take the form of digital media activism, where Indigenous peoples (re)adapt cultural practices, and use digital media and tools, for cultural and linguistic revitalization, and political mobilization. The diverse ways in which Indigenous peoples use and transform these digital technologies is what we call Digital Indigeneities.

As Canada Research Chairholder, Dr. Genner Llanes-Ortiz proposes to collaboratively investigate Digital Indigeneities in the Americas, namely, how Indigenous peoples in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala develop and use digital technologies to reclaim, protect and stimulate their cultural and language heritage. This initiative will be the first to bridge Indigenous researchers and activist networks from Latin America with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada to analyze and showcase the ways Indigenous peoples are using technological advancements to sustain and cultivate their identities, knowledge, life ways, languages, and traditions. Digital media adaptation and its possibilities to support Indigenous cultural and language revitalization are currently discussed by Indigenous scholars in North America, but relevant examples and academic contributions from Indigenous Latin America are still missing in these discussions, explains Dr. Llanes-Ortiz. Conversations between North America and Latin America have been limited by their different colonial languages (English vs French, Spanish vs Portuguese), as well as by how differently Indigenous peoples express and protect their knowledge and identities. As an Indigenous Maya researcher and now holder of a Canada Research Chair, I hope to facilitate these important conversations and build bridges across these different contexts.

Dr. Llanes-Ortiz’s participatory research program will thus explore four interrelated areas of Digital Indigeneities, which all focus on the reclamation of Indigenous languages and knowledges. Dr. Llanes-Ortiz and his team will work collaboratively with Indigenous partners to follow research protocols that support Indigenous ownership and control of data and information. In this way, they will create a repository of Indigenous language digital activism, which describes a wide range of initiatives (e.g., films, podcast, blogs, applications, etc.) that aim to prevent Indigenous language displacement and loss. They will also support the digitization of Indigenous cultural archives and collections in Canada to increase their accessibility. This research program will also work on the creation of interactive digital maps of interest for First Nations in Canada and Indigenous peoples in Mexico and Guatemala, using for example audiovisual recordings and photographs, local knowledge and practice or environmental information. Finally, they will engage with Indigenous activists to discuss and analyze the impact that their activities have on Indigenous debates.

In collaboration with different Indigenous partners in Canada and in the Maya region (Mexico and Guatemala), Dr. Llanes-Ortiz’s Canada Research Chair research program will contribute to redressing the pernicious legacies of settler colonialisms in the Americas. The digital tools, methods, and platforms that his team will investigate and build up with Indigenous partners also have the potential to be used as pedagogic aids to develop culturally relevant education for Indigenous and non-Indigenous children and youth.