Sidewalk Labs and Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

Sidewalk labs is the Alphabet (Google) company who is tasked with developing Toronto’s Waterfront district. The first visit to the project’s website brings up a digital Indigenous land acknowledgement. This is the first time I’ve seen this practice.

Still, I’ve got to admit that I’m a little unsettled by this implementation, and not in the way that Indigenous activists generally intend. I can’t imagine that the district will have a real and substantive land restitution element. So isn’t what we are left with a hallow gesture that seeks to make the urban data gaze and the subsequent selling of that data more palatable. To my mind this is a great example of liberal politics: co-opt indigenous political iconography to sanitized surveillance.


Author: Scott Timcke

I’m a Lecturer in the Department of Literary, Cultural and Communication Studies at the University of the West Indies. I use Marxist methods to study social inequality, the digital mode of production, the causes and consequences of imperial violence in the early 21st Century.

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