Extraction of Personal Data: A New Form of Colonialism or Continuation of a Colonial Practice? Adult Native American Adoptees Resist Assimilation and Rebuild Erased Identities
A new form of colonialism, distinctive of the 21st century is reported to be taking shape: data colonialism. Data colonialism interprets the contemporary capture and processing of personal data by governments or data corporations as an evolution of historical colonialism. Scholars who advance this theory do not juxtapose the contents, form, let alone the physical violence of historical colonialism with the contemporary practices of appropriation of personal data. Instead, they only refer to historic colonialism in the context of its function within the development of economies on a global scale. The main argument made in this paper is that; to construe contemporary data relations through the lens of colonialism, as a preliminary step, it is worth revisiting and examining the contents of historical colonialism. A comprehensive review of the practices of historical colonialism exposes extraction of personal data as a practice that predates the digital/computer era, rendering contemporary extraction of personal data not a “new” form but a continuation of a colonial practice. The main proposition made in the paper is that contemporary extraction and processing of personal information by means of technology, be directly comparable to practices that took place during historic colonialism. Colonial governments depended on the collection and control of Indigenous personal or identity records, to erase Indigenous identities and facilitate their assimilation to white culture. I use the plight of adult Native American adoptees who are seeking access to their adoption records as an example of the extraction of personal information that complemented historic colonialism. Despite impediments from the legacies of colonialism like sealed, altered or destroyed adoption records, adult Native American adoptees of the pre-ICWA period have resisted assimilation, pursuant to Article 8 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It is the specific acts of resistance to assimilation by Indigenous peoples that represent and define what decolonization means for Indigenous Peoples. For a theoretical discourse on data de-colonialism to be persuasive and relevant for Indigenous peoples, it needs to acknowledge the voices of those who bear the scars of data extraction practices that occurred during historic colonialism
"Extraction of Personal Data: A New Form of Colonialism or Continuation of a Colonial Practice? Adult Native American Adoptees Resist Assimilation and Rebuild Erased Identities,"
American Indian Law Journal: Vol. 10:
2, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.seattleu.edu/ailj/vol10/iss2/4
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