From Community Networks to Shared Networks: The Paths of Latin-Centric Indigenous Networks to a Pluriversal Internet

Rosa, Fernanda
Information, Communication & Society

This article examines, with ethnographic lenses, the emergence of shared networks in the Tseltal and Zapoteco communities in Chiapas and Oaxaca (Mexico). ‘Shared networks’ are first-mile signal-sharing practices that articulate interconnection infrastructure and values of coexistence to, in the cases studied, extend the internet to areas where the services of existing larger internet service providers are unsatisfactory or unavailable. It argues that by infrastructuring their own local networks and interconnecting to the global internet, Tseltal and Zapoteco people are effectively internet codesigners, building Latin-Centric Indigenous networks and shaping internet governance from below. When comunalidad values, supported by unlicensed frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, towers, radio antennas, houses’ rooftops, routers, and cables, intersect with the values of the internet service providers and their policies, hybrids emerge. Shared networks are a result of what these hybrids enact and constrain, as well as evidence of the vivid struggles for a more inclusive and pluriversal internet.