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“Tracing the Possibilities and Meanings of Cryptocurrency for Native American Communities,” with Ashley Cordes (Coquille)

May 2, 2018, 12:00 pm1:30 pm

Allen Hall, Rm 307

Free and open to the public. Pizza provided.


This talk centers on a section of my dissertation, “Currency as Communication in Native American Communities.” It begins with a case study of MazaCoin, an Indigenous community-based cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies are digital peer-to-peer assets or currencies that are enabled via computer software and secured using cryptography. Community-based and national cryptocurrencies constitute a segment of an ever-growing surge of altcoins, i.e. coins other than bitcoin. I provide a background of the coin’s contested history and media coverage surrounding it, and also unpack its visual components. My talk traces MazaCoin’s move from a tribally-specific form to a pan-Indigenous coin. At its current state it is an altcoin that is symbolic, but like most community-based cryptocurrencies it is without widespread and sustained usage. In what ways are meanings encoded into digital currency? To what degree are these contoured by journalistic discourses? How does MazaCoin support or reject values of community based cryptocurrency? These guiding questions will be addressed and grounded in three theoretical terrains: currency and media; nationhood; and decolonization.

Ashley has several years of experience as a photographer and reporter for multiple publications including Long Beach Post, Drapers Magazine in London, and Chinatown Newspaper in Hawaii. She also teaches courses in courses in Oral Interpretation, Rhetoric, Public Speaking, Nonverbal Communication, and Sociology at various universities. Her research interests center on musical subcultures and Native American communities and ways in which they communicate group identities through media. She is a member of the Coquille Tribe based in Coos Bay, and a member of their Culture and Education Committee. Ashley’s work can be found in peer-reviewed journals including Television & New Media, and New Media & Society. In 2017, Ashley received the Outstanding Doctoral Student Teaching Award.

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