Media@Sydney: Kū Kia’i Kahuku: Civic Streaming and Altruistic YouTube
This talk attempts to theorize the concept of civic streaming, and specifically the usage of live-streaming, for diasporic relationality.
This talk attempts to theorize the concept of civic streaming, and specifically the usage of live-streaming, through an engagement with three sites of analysis: the Kū Kia’i Kahuku community movement, the Ukrainian band Selo i Ludy, and YouTube channel Adventures With Purpose. This presentation offers a critique of the preponderance of Western approaches to social media that apply only Western constructs to understanding platforms and communities in contemporary social networks and argues for the value of indigenizing social media. By using an established indigenous theoretical tool/concept, such as the Moanan (Polynesian) conception of Tā and Vā (time and space), as the beginning point for studying technology and how livestreaming is incorporated into civic engagement. Moanans inhabit digital space through pre-existing socio-spatial ideas like Tā and Vā, but conceptualized further the platform and spaces themselves can be understood through indigenous knowledge itself. Through an analysis of the digital articulation of the Kū Kia’i Kahuku community movement (an ecological, indigenous, and civic protest for environmental justice to protect native species and pushback against colonial development in the form of giant wind turbines placed over schools and the homes of community members and Kanaka Maoli in Kahuku, Hawaii) and the accompanying Tā and Vā of the protest, we find the affordances of social media, particularly livestreaming, orient the rhythm of time and space for diasporic relationality.
I argue that Kū Kia’i Kahuku social media inspired movement within the space of digital connectivity, a civic rhythm, attempting to forge a sense of symmetry within sociospatial ties in the community and with the larger diaspora. This attempt at building symmetry exists as a fundamental, underlying principle in indigenous social life. Moanan peoples inscribe within social media a distinct Moanan rhythm. In this case, the vibrations of the protest, an affectively charged tā, civically engaged the diaspora in a moment of rupture–opening up a space for symmetry within the dissymmetry of colonial capitalism. Similarly the livestreaming of the band Selo i Ludy during the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine inscribed a resistant protest with civic rhythm (both musically and politically) during a period of incredible rupture and risk. Lastly, the presentation looks at YouTube channels that have developed genres of altruism and then have to traverse the problematic complications between civic engagement and exploitation.
Benjamin Burroughs is an associate professor of emerging media at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). His research focuses on streaming media and technology, media industries, and social media. His work has been published in journals such as New Media and Society, Social Media + Society, and Games and Culture. He earned two Master’s degrees in Global Media and Communication from the University of Southern California and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and his Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Iowa.