Indigenous cryptocurrency: Affective capitalism and rhetorics of sovereignty

  • Cindy Tekobbe
  • John Carter McKnight

Abstract

Financial technologies embody and shape notions of social, as well as financial, worth. New digital ‘alt-finance’ systems, including the blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin and similar ‘cryptocurrencies,’ are no exception: technology, rhetoric, imagined users and non-users, and a long history of sociotechnical, political, and cultural relations are all elements in a dynamic assemblage with wide-ranging consequences. This paper examines the rise and fall of one alt-finance system: MazaCoin, a Bitcoin variant intended to benefit the Oglala Lakota of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The story of MazaCoin is one of an attempt to unite two apparently divergent sociotechnical assemblages: (1) a libertarian, elite technology of cryptocurrency, and (2) a richly traditional indigenous community with a deep desire for cultural survivance, bound up in a precarious economy left behind in the wake of more than a century of genocide.

Author Biographies

Cindy Tekobbe

Assistant Professor of Composition, Rhetoric, and English Studies, at the University of Alabama

John Carter McKnight

Assistant Professor of Sociology of Emerging Technologies at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

Published
2016-09-13
How to Cite
Tekobbe, C., & McKnight, J. C. (2016). Indigenous cryptocurrency: Affective capitalism and rhetorics of sovereignty. First Monday, 21(10). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i10.6955