I was unfortunately unable to attend the OVC last month, but here’s video of the session “Human Rights and Indigenous Media: Dilemmas, Challenges and Opportunities” featuring my colleagues Sam Gregory and Sameer Padania. For more report-back read the blog post by Teague Schneiter on the Institute of Network Cultures site. (Teague is actually interning here at WITNESS.). An excerpt:
“The next session I attended was moderated by Sameer Padania and was called ‘Human Rights and Indigenous Media: Dilemmas, Challenges and Opportunities.’ Padania gave an introduction about where open video meets ethical concerns that are involved with human rights more broadly, and Indigenous rights specifically. He brought up the question of whether a culture of openness can be supported when it comes to concerns of consent, dignity, representation, and security for Indigenous communities. Human rights lawyer Leah Shaver, affiliated with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, spoke about video is a powerful tool, and open video as an even more powerful tool, for promoting human rights. She used a powerful example of a dissatisfied public in Iran demanding justice. As ordinary citizens make powerful and affected videos of human rights violations, the ability to add subtitles to videos would have been a major stumbling block in the past. Recently, however the Huffington Post was able to pass on the subtitling request to their readers and 100,000 people received subtitling request instantly. This kind of networking is a powerful tool for advocacy. She closed with statements about how open video enables broader participation and inclusion, and creates a culture that everyone can access.
“Next, Program Director for WITNESS Sam Gregory gave a talk that was synched with a WITNESS compilation of videos and stills. He started by asking, how does open video culture relate to human rights? How can we share with open video community and broader community the ethical frameworks that are involved in bringing this kind of material into the realm of participation? The last speaker was NYU’s own Faye Ginsburg, who spoke about the movement of media technologies into indigenous communities, and the effectiveness of video for visibility; even the use of camera by Indigenous groups as protection. However, she also acknowledged the danger of open video when it comes to cultural protocols that vary per Indigenous community, i.e. when certain information that should not be shared freely with other non-initiated members of the community, or with outsiders. She gave an anecdote about how for Indigenous communities representation can have a very different and extremely serious meaning: last year, Second Life in collaboration with Telstra (the major telephone company in Australia) created a virtual Uluru (called ‘Ayer’s Rock’ in the west) complete with advertising billboards erected in front of this sacred place, parts of it unable to be seen by non-initiated members of the Indigenous community. She closed with the idea that human rights discourse breaks down at a point when dealing with ethical considerations such as these, and noted that the first way to deal with these concerns is to begin engaging in conversations with people about what is ethically acceptable and what is not.”
For more videos of the conference check out the OVC site.