Redpath Book Display: E-Scholarship

As members of such a large (and busy) University, it can be easy to forget one of McGill’s main purposes as an institution: scholarship. With over 48,000 thesis and dissertations, a fantastic way to look back on the rich history of our University’s academic excellence is through e-scholarship; the complete archival data basis of McGill thesis and dissertations, spanning from 1833 to present day.

In order to celebrate another year of scholars completing their studies at McGill, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library created a virtual book display featuring a few thesis published this past year. These are especially impressive, as some are from scholars whose works were successful even in unprecedented times. Access this display to see some of the fantastic thesis here.

E-scholarship is an excellent– and underutilized – resource. Created in 2005 in order to increase accessibility to the thesis archives, the e-scholarship institutional repository ensures that research produced at McGill is visible, free, accessible, disseminated, and preserved for future interests – all while maintaining researchers copyright.

“My favorite part about e-scholarship – beyond the fact that it’s open access of course – is the history” Jessica Lange, e-scholarship librarian added, “you can delight in interesting gems [in the archives]. McGill research is really imbedded in the history of Montreal. You might find stories or projects that tell you more about the history of this city than you were expecting; stories you can’t find other places.”

One of the benefits of this free history is the quantity of famous or successful works in the collection. To view some of the more well-known alum on record, such as Harriet Brooks, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, and  John O’Keefe , visit the Highlights from McGill theses and dissertations.

To learn more about e-scholarship and to access the database, visit e-scholarship at McGill.

Have any questions? Contact escholarship.library@mcgill.ca for concerns on e-scholarship or hssl.library@mcgill.ca for other assistance.

Indigenous Rights and Data Sovereignty: A story of success and community

Keoni Mahelona and Peter-Lucas Jones on Indigenous Data Sovereignty, March 3, 2021.

In the era of big data, it is difficult to know our privacy rights and how our information is being used. Hosted by the Feminist and Accessible Publishing, Communications, and Technology Speaker and Workshop Series and by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures , I attended the workshop by Keoni Mahelona and Peter-Lucas Jones speaking on Indigenous Data Sovereignty through their roles at Te Hiku Media in New Zealand. 

Te Hiku Media is a charitable media organization coming from Far North Iwi (regions) of Ngāti Kuri, Te Aupouri, Ngai Takoto, Te Rārawa and Ngāti Kahu in New Zealand. The organization creates ways for members of these regions who are living away from traditional territories to access their culture and historical knowledge through radio, online television, and other media. Like many Indigenous groups, these regions are struggling with the decline of their historical language, Maori. On top of the fantastic cultural preservation and revitalization efforts, Tehiku Media decided to tackle this issue as well. “Language provides a gateway into the mind of our people. It is imbued with cultural memory and ideological thought. [Language holds] all of the things that inform our world view. When we lose a word in our language, we lose a part of our culture” states Peter-Lucus Jones, Te Hiku Media Manager. 

All current language processing giants in big media such as Duo Lingo and Google have methods available to record and process new languages at little to no cost, however there is a catch: the data you share with these companies is no longer yours, and can be sold as they see fit.

“To have our language stolen from us by the colonizers through generations of abuse and residential schools, and then for them to turn around and sell it back to us?… We couldn’t do this. It wasn’t right” explained speaker Keoni Mahelona.

Rather than turning to these companies, Te Hiku Media decided to take matters into their own hands. For the past 30 years, they have collected recordings from many Maori speaking elders, paying special attention to specific dialects that are not well recorded. Through these datasets, Te Hiku was able to create programs which store language, and eventually were able to build their own Maori speech-recognition software. The goals for this project were to maintain sovereignty, make the Maori language more ubiquitous, and promote language and culture. 

A major challenge in this data sovereignty journey was the choice to license the data. Maori historically does not include the concept of ownership, however, if the data isn’t licensed there is potential for a corporation to steal it. The difficult decision to license the data was ultimately made, and the communities have entrusted guardianship of this data to Te Hiku Media for safekeeping. 

In order to hear more about Te Hiku Media’s preservation of Maori culture, take a look at their website at https://tehiku.nz/

A recording of this discussion is available. Access it here: https://www.feministandaccessiblepublishingandtechnology.com/p/videos.html