Category Archives: Open Access

Council votes in favour of motion to help undocumented residents

Chris Kitching,,   Published Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 11:04AM EST

City council has voted in favour of a motion that makes it easier for people without full and secure immigration status to access city services already available to legal residents of Canada.

According to advocates, the proposed measures within the motion make it easier for newcomers to receive aid from places such as food banks and access health, employment and recreation services, and ensure their children can attend local schools.

Syed Hussan, a spokesman for the Solidarity City Network, said there are about 400,000 people in Toronto who don’t have full immigration status.

City hall

Toronto City Hall is shown in this file photo. (The Canadian Press/Michelle Siu)

“These people live here, they’re part of our community,” Hussan told CP24 reporter Katie Simpson ahead of the vote. “They should be in our schools, they should be able to walk down the street to the food bank or a shopping centre or go into a shelter without fear of detention and deportation.”

Hussan, who was at city hall Thursday to watch council debate the motion, said that having the motion approved would help newcomers take one “small step” towards that goal.

He is also calling on the provincial and federal governments to eliminate restrictions.

The motion not only calls on improved access to city services, it also calls for the federal government to create a regularization program for undocumented residents, and asks the province to review its policies for provincially-funded services to ensure access to health care, emergency services, housing and other social supports.

“We need the province to join in, we need the federal government to make its moves and we need Toronto to set the path forward,” Hussan said.

Dozens of supporters, wearing yellow T-shirts reading “Access without fear,” attended the city council meeting to watch the vote.

By passing the motion, Toronto becomes the first city in Canada to have “sanctuary city” type policies, according to Solidarity City Network.

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Watch the Video Here:  Council votes in favour of motion to help undocumented residents |

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As we use it, the term “imaginative” refers to a recognition of imagination and creativity as central and significant in human social relations, and a commitment to open-ended inquiry that can embrace risks, challenges to orthodoxy, and unintended outcomes.

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On Legitimacy, Place and the Anthropology of the Internet


Source: Ethnography Matters February 2013

Editor’s note: In this thoughtful piece for February’s Openness EditionSarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) discusses the ways in which the internet has transformed the relationship between the writer and the people about whom he or she writes. Sarah has written extensively about open access to scholarly publications (‘one paper (she) uploaded to… helped Uzbek refugees find a safe haven abroad’, according to one interview). In this post, Sarah writes about a deeper question regarding the openness of the research process and the ways in which the internet has led to a leveling of the playing fields in a way that some anthropologists would rather ignore than confront. After all, when the “subaltern speaks” and anyone, not just anthropologists, can hear, who exactly is doing the exposing?

Sarah Kendzior is an anthropologist and communications scholar who studies digital media and politics. Her home blog is at

Check out past posts from guest bloggers


In the hallway of my anthropology department there was a map of the world. The map was covered with photos of students in the field, their exact location pinpointed by an image on a string. Every year, the academic coordinator would send out a call to students for a representative photo to add to the map, and every year, I failed to respond.

During the bulk of my dissertation fieldwork, I lived in Missouri. The people I wrote about, Uzbek exiled political dissidents, lived all around the world — in Sweden, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Canada, the United States, Turkey. Having fled a brutal crackdown following a massacre of civilians, they lived lives of constant upheaval, on the move and on the run. They thought less about where they were than they did about Uzbekistan, the one place they could not go. They spent most of their time online, talking to each other and talking to me. I could not go to Uzbekistan either, since my previous articles criticized its authoritarian regime.


This picture shows the inside of the truck of the leader of the Birdamlik People’s Movement, an Uzbek opposition group. Birdamlik has branches in over a dozen countries (including Uzbekistan) but they are organized through the internet. The leader of the movement works in the US as a truck driver, and he calls this his “mobile office” — a communications center set up inside his 18-wheeler. The computer screen shows the Birdamlik website, which is banned in Uzbekistan. Pic by Sarah Kendzior (all rights reserved)

The online communities of exiled dissidents made for an interesting dissertation. But it posed a problem when it came to the department map. Should I mark every point on the map or none of them? Should I designate Uzbekistan somehow – a skull and crossbones, a circle with a slash? What was my “representative image” – an activist curled up with his laptop, updating his Facebook status? A blogger staring at Cyrillic on a screen? Me, alone at my desk, checking my email?

No one wants to see these things. No one wants to see visual documentation of their own online lives, much less the lives of others. It is the academic version of the tabloid reveal – “Uzbek dissidents – they’re just like us!” Such banality runs counter to anthropological advertising. The purpose of the department map was to show visitors that our research subjects are not just like us – but that we, for a time, could be just like them.

I was like the people I studied too, in that none of us have a place within the traditional conception of anthropological fieldwork. We were too much on the move, or we were not moving enough.

Journalism and Anthropology Face the Same Fate

Before I was an anthropologist, I was a journalist. The week I quit my job at the New York Daily News, another young journalist bowed out in a more dramatic fashion. In April 2003, Jayson Blair was fired from the New York Times for plagiarizing other articles, inventing quotes, and, most intriguingly, fabricating travel in order to merit the dateline that lends a Times piece its veracity. Instead of going to the places he was supposed to go and talking to the people who lived there, Blair would interview them on the phone from New York. Sometimes, he would fly into a city and “report” without leaving his hotel.

As the Blair scandal unfolded, it became known that the latter technique was occasionally practiced even by journalists who were not coke-addled liars. The dateline had its own value separate from the insight that the reporter was contributing. It was shorthand for the reporter’s personal involvement, his professional legitimacy, his deep, on-the-ground knowledge. Being there – regardless of what one was actually doing there – was enough, for this distinguished the journalist from the masses forced to rely on his words.

At the time I quit the Daily News, most print journalists viewed the internet with suspicion and disdain. In 2003, the version of the Daily News that appeared at their website was almost an exact replica of the edition that had been published that morning, save a “Breaking News” bar, reluctantly implemented in 2002, that linked to stories from wire services. Even 9/11 had prompted hand-wringing among the web staffers – dare they announce that the World Trade Center had collapsed and risk incurring the wrath of editorial?

Ten years later, such a scenario is unimaginable. The collapse of print journalism, and the attribution of its demise to the industry’s reluctance to adapt to the internet, has been thoroughly (and gleefully) eulogized by media and tech reporters, and was predicted years before it occurred. What few saw coming was how, in less than a decade, the internet would go from disreputable scourge to the dominant source of news and information, with reporters breathlessly parroting the Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses of famous people and ordinary citizens alike.

In 2003, I never thought CNN would film a website, but today this happens all the time, because well-placed internet users are now viewed as authorities due purely to their geographic proximity to an event. Facebook and Twitter users have become unwitting reporters (unpaid unwitting reporters), and media outlets rely on them. It is enough that they are there, updating from the scene, unlike the journalist whose travel budget was cut – never mind if the Twitter user knows from what he tweets.

A Discipline in Crisis

Today anthropology is facing a crisis of place, representation, and legitimacy similar to what journalism experienced a decade ago. Like journalists at the turn of the millennium, anthropologists have dealt with the challenges posed by the internet by ignoring them, downplaying the importance of the medium, and discounting its impact on the lives of the people they study. Despite the importance of the internet to people all over the world, there are few ethnographic studies of internet use conducted by anthropologists, and the anthropologists who do conduct this kind of research are marginalized and dismissed.

In a 2002 essay titled Another Revolution Missed, Maximillian Forte bemoaned the widespread refusal of anthropologists to acknowledge the web. “Why would anthropology, as a discipline, routinely ignore one particular field site?” he asked, noting that this field site is populated by “almost 600 million people of all ages, classes, nationalities, ethnic backgrounds, personal interests, and professions.”

While public acknowledgement of the internet as a medium worthy of anthropological inquiry has increased since the publication of Forte’s essay, there has been little in the way of ethnographic studies of how people are using it, save for a disproportionate focus on virtual worlds like Second Life. Anthropological research on the internet is rare compared to that of other disciplines, and the stigma of conducting it has remained.

In a 2012 interview with Fast Company, anthropologist Gabriella Coleman recalled how her dissertation research on hackers, conducted in the early 2000s, was viewed with bafflement by her professional peers. “My advisers knew it was super-interesting, but because it wasn’t focused on a particular area of the world, they warned me I was going to have trouble getting a job in an anthropology department,” she said.

Coleman is now a leading figure in the study of online communities, but that makes little difference to a discipline trading on exoticism and insularity. Even today, she says she is rarely invited to give talks in anthropology departments despite the fact that her research on Anonymous has captured the attention of the world.

On the Internet, No One Knows You’re an Anthropologist

That most anthropologists dismiss the internet as a subject worthy of ethnographic research is unfortunate but not surprising. As sociologist Christine Hine observes in Virtual Methods, “When we talk about methodology, we are implicitly talking about our identity and the standards by which we wish our work to be judged.” She notes that this is a particularly thorny issue for social scientists studying the internet, as “we threaten the security of a community of research practice.”

Anthropology of the internet challenges paradigms and practices that have been part of the discipline since its inception. The most notable methodological divergence concerns what many consider the hallmark of cultural anthropology: long-term ethnographic fieldwork.

In anthropology of the internet, there is no clear sense of a field site or of “time spent in the field”. (The researcher is either always in the field, or, naysayers claim, never in the field). The boundaries of the field site tend to be determined by the researcher, and its demarcations are often not clear even to the people he or she studies. Subject anonymity, another standard practice of anthropological research, is difficult to maintain with so much data public and traceable – and so much information fraudulent and fabricated. Anthropologists are left both fearful of exposing people and of having nothing “real” to expose.

There is also the question of who is doing the exposing. Much as the internet leveled the playing field between the reporter and the reader (often reversing their roles in the process), the internet has transformed the relationship between the social scientist and the subject, with the former no longer the lone recipient of the latter’s concerns. Not only does the “subaltern speak”, the “subaltern” shares the details of his life online in a way that anyone – not just anthropologists, anyone – can access.

The question then becomes what to do with this information. How do anthropologists connect online texts to the people who produce them? How do they judge whether their interpretations of an individual and a community are accurate? From where do anthropologists draw their authority and accountability?

Such questions are not new. Anthropologists who practice “traditional” fieldwork have been asking them for years. But like journalists of a decade ago, anthropologists are reluctant to address them in the context of online communication — in particular, to acknowledge how the internet has transformed the relationship between the writer and the people about whom he or she writes. The internet makes ethnography something anyone can do, a threatening prospect for a conservative discipline struggling to locate its relevance. It is easier to dismiss the internet as not worthy of inquiry at all.

Anthropology of the internet forces the question of whether being seen as an anthropologist is more important than doing meaningful ethnography. It strips the discipline of its elite trappings, requiring no excessive funding or dramatic upending of one’s life. What it does require is for the researcher to rely on more than just a dateline. When you are not going anywhere, you have to make the journey matter.


LIVE ONLINE: Aaron Swartz and the battle for Open Access


by Lauren O’Neil Posted: January 17, 2013 7:10 PM Last Updated: January 17, 2013 8:10 PM Read 7comments7

 Aaron Swartz was considered a “Robin Hood” type hero among many, involved in the open access movement, which advocates the free, unrestricted dissemination of information through the internet.(Noah Berger/Reuters)It’s nearly one week since the tragic death of Aaron Swartz, a digital pioneer and activist who took his own life at the age of 26 under the shadow of a federal court case for “liberating” academic journal articles. If convicted, he was facing up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.Prosecutors allege that in 2010 Swartz illegally gained access to millions of articles through the database JSTOR after breaking into a network interface closet in the basement of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They say he had plugged his computer into the network and downloaded millions of articles before campus and local police caught him.Some say that he was intentionally ruining the economic value of the information, but supporters of the “open access movement,” which advocates the free, unrestricted dissemination of information, disagree.

Swartz was considered a Robin Hood-type hero among many academics and internet freedom fighters. They maintain that he was not stealing, but liberating the information kept in JSTOR for the public good.

With his death, one of the causes Aaron fought so passionately for has gained new momentum. More than 40,000 tweets have already been posted with the hashtag #pdftribute in honour of Swartz’s memory. Many of these tweets have links to academic researchers’ articles that have been posted for free online — the very issue that got Swartz into legal trouble.

We spoke to three experts about these issues via webcam in this week’s episode of Live Online:

Eva Vivalt: Orginator of the #PDFTribute hashtag and development economist.

Sarah Kendzior: Digital media analyst and communications scholar whose recent article about Swartz, titled “Academic Paywalls Mean Publish and Perish” argues for more access to academic information.

Theodore Claypoole: An expert in internet law and intellectual property.

The video can be viewed here


Impacting the World One Paper Upload at a Time


by Courtney Quirin

Sarah Kendzior

With one paper uploaded on, Sarah Kendzior helped Uzbek refugees find a safe haven abroad. With another upload she brought the world of contemporary Uzbek literature into the lives of Midwestern teens. A firm believer that in-depth scholarly research is of value to every kind of person, not just the academic, Sarah Kendzior is committed to publishing her works online free-of-charge so that they might make a real impact on current affairs.

“There’s this idea that people outside of academia, or with less education, are less interested in academic topics or ideas, and I don’t think that’s true,” says Kendzior.

Kendzior’s story proves her point. Made possible by posting her work on, even her often overlooked line of work on Uzbekistan and central Asia has sparked unexpected attention as well as helped save the lives of the politically oppressed.

“This kind of scholarly in-depth research is really valuable to people.”

Whenever there is a crisis, explains Kendzior, people flood the internet in search of answers. But for many, they are stopped dead in their tracks, denied access to research databases or confronted with hefty fees. Some subscription-based journals charge up to $50 per article, according to Kendzior.

“If I were me 10 years ago— just starting out and trying to get information about this part of the world that I’m interested in— I would be stuck, finding these articles and not being able to access them. Think about all the kinds of people, ordinary people with an interest, trying to learn about the world and what kind of contributions they might be able to make if their interest was allowed to develop.”

Bypassing the limits of paywalls, Kendzior sees great potential in “I think is very useful for people outside of academia seeking basic knowledge. It’s also encouraged academics to post their work online and make it more accessible to the public.”

In Kendzior’s experience, open access to her research has provided more than just a continuing education; it’s also provided critical information to refugee asylum cases.

One such case happened in 2010 when the UN High Commission on Refugees used one of Kendzior’s papers to win Uzbek refugees asylum in Australia. By posting her paper online, Kendzior unlocked proof that an alleged Uzbek terrorist group had been fabricated by the government, thus giving attorneys and the UN High Commission on Refugees the evidence they needed to grant these unwarranted “terrorists” asylum abroad. Easy access to Kendzior’s work saved lives— the Uzbek government had been threatening “members” of this fabricated group, as witnessed by the 2005 massacre in Andijon.

Open access to her articles also frequently lands Kendzior on the bench as an expert witness in asylum cases. Browsing through her research on, lawyers easily assess her expertise and contact her for her help.

To Kendzior’s surprise, her work has also made a mark on English students in several high schools across the Midwest. Finding Kendzior’s article on Uzbek political poetry on, one teacher in particular has incorporated Kendzior’s work into her general poetry unit.

“I really like this idea that there are young people viewing Uzbekistan not as some foreign, obscure weird place, but as part of the contemporary world, as a culture that has a contribution to literature,” says Kendzior.

By posting her papers on, Kendzior has afforded those stuck in the “grey zone”— such as attorneys, NGOs, policy groups, educators, and journalists who lack access to subscription-based journals and databases— with contemporary scholarship needed to do their jobs.

Kendzior strongly believes that academics and their research can hugely impact the world, but the path to doing so is blocked by both paywalls and a “careerist” mindset focused on publishing infrequently in prestigious (and expensive) journals.

“We need to start thinking, why are we doing this? Why are we bothering with this research? Is it to advance our own careers or is it to possibly influence the world and change it for the better? I think if we look at it that way, then it becomes clear that works should be open because if nobody can read them, then we don’t have a chance to make any kind of impact.”

To Kendzior, publishing is about “sharing knowledge and sharing research with the world,” which is why she always makes her papers free to everyone on

Academic Bio:
Sarah Kendzior is an anthropologist and communications scholar who specializes in Uzbek language and political online media. She also collaborates with Katy Pearce, University of Washington, to study how Azerbaijanis use the internet for political change. In addition to producing academic works, Kendzior writes regularly for Al Jazeera as well as other media outlets.

Kendzior completed a PhD in Anthropology from Washington University in Saint Louis and an MA in Central Eurasian Studies from Indiana University.

Sarah’s work can be viewed here.