Identity and rhetoric in the Kumeyaay Web presence
McLuhan (1964) argues that technologies are extensions of man-with the wheel being an extension of the foot, radio an extension of the ear, and television an extension of the eye. Extending McLuhan's metaphor to the Internet allows for a conception of the Internet as an extension of identity. Understanding the Internet as an extension of identity is a fruitful metaphor when identities are analyzed in rhetorical contexts. Howard (2004) argues that "Understanding society requires that we study media embeddedness-how new communication tools are embedded in our lives and how our lives are embedded in new media." Thus, we can understand websites through their interaction with society in offline contexts, especially in terms of rhetoric emerging from a given society. To explore the Internet as an extension of identity, this paper examines rhetoric about Indigenous peoples infused throughout mainstream U.S. culture and online responses from indigenous people, specifically the Kumeyaay people of San Diego County in California. Mainstream U.S. rhetoric sets up images of indigenous peoples as anchored in the past. In response, the Kumeyaay web presence actively works to engage and diffuse the power of mainstream images of "indian-ness" through a representation of Kumeyaay culture as living in the present San Diego county area of the U.S. This case demonstrates the connection between ideology about Native Americans and the online responses which assert Kumeyaay identity as situated in the present.
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Australia New Zealand Communication Association Conference, 2006