“Coining the Commons” summer research internship for undergraduates, Summer 2019

RiVAL has received tentative support from MITACs to encourage applications from undergraduates from selected institutions in Australia, Brazil, China, India, France, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Ukraine to work with us for up to twelve weeks on a research project on the potentials, limits and dangers for grassroots movements for social justice engaging with cryptocurrencies and other financial technologies (FinTech).

More information about eligibility, the program and application process can be found here: https://www.mitacs.ca/en/programs/globalink/globalink-research-internship

Our project is described below. We have an opportunity for one undergraduate students to join us in Thunder Bay for 12 weeks between May and October 2019. Mitacs provides funding for travel, accommodation, health insurance, potentially a stipend, and various other costs.

If you might be interested PLEASE read the instructions at the Mitacs website thoroughly.

If you have additional questions about the project itself (not the application process), please contact us.

Please note that this internship is entirely funded by Mitacs and their partners and, ultimately, Mitacs selects candidates based on the criteria we provided (we have no say in the matter). However, in the interests of attracting a candidate close to our approach or orientation, we are advertising the position here.

Mitacs will begin accepting applications in late July 2018 at the link above.

The deadline for applications to Mitacs is September 19, 2018.

Project description

Under the auspices of the ReImagining Value Action Lab, directed by Dr. Max Haiven, Canada Research Chair in Culture, Media and Social Justice, this project focuses on the assessing the potential for new financial technologies to enhance grassroots struggles for social justice. In particular, this project seeks to synthesize data from experiments around the world to discover if and how alternative digital currencies, including cryptocurrencies, are being mobilized by social movements, specifically movements that contest resource extraction (or extractivism). Our goal is to move beyond the hype and (unfounded) enthusiasm for these new financial technologies by a thorough investigation of if and how they actually, in the current moment, allows communities to better mobilize their resources, build solidarity and win gains.

More broadly, we are interested in if and how the prospect of new financial technologies is enlivening and activating the imagination of activists and communities. Recently there has been an extreme enthusiasm for “fintech” and rampant speculation on crypto-currencies, as well as high-profile promotion of financial literacy and micofinance campaigns by public- and private-sector actors around the world. Recent research shows that, usually, this enthusiasm is tied to an implicit or unstated disposition towards free-market policies and solutions associated with neoliberal perspectives. As such, many scholars and practitioners (rightly) worry that the potential of new technologies and platforms will be limited to reproducing extant systems and structures of power, wealth and inequality. Our research aims to discover if there are “bottom up” uses of applications for these financial technologies emerging from grounded, grassroots social movements that might help us tell another story about the potentials and pitfalls of the changing relationship of money and tech today. Rather than examining the promises and hype, we want to look at the day-to-day applications and experiments of communities reclaiming the economy.

Students preferred academic background: Anthropology, Art, Art History, Canadian Studies, Communication, Cultural Studies, Development Studies, Design, English Literature, Environmental Studies, Film Studies, Fine Arts, Geography, Humanities, Information Studies, Library Studies, Media Studies, Native Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, Women’s Studies

Preferred skills/backgrounds

There are a wide variety of ways a student could contribute to this project. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Qualitative research skills (interviews, focus groups, ethnography)
  • Theoretical investigations
  • Historical framing
  • Literature reviews and assessments
  • Technological assessment
  • Research-creation and arts-based research practices – Public programming
  • Speculative design

Roles of intern

The student will be an active part of this research project and will, along with the Primary Investigator, develop a framework for independent research (using one of the methodologies listed above) to be conducted over the duration of the internship.

This position demands a high capacity for independent, self-directed research and production and the ability to clearly and concisely communicate research findings.

The specifics of the role will depend on the particular capacities, skills and interests of the candidate, though they may include
Conducting archival and online research

  • Preparing literature reviews
  • Organizing, conducting and/or transcribing interviews and/or focus groups
  • Developing speculative artistic and/or design platforms
  • Organizing or assisting with the organization of public events