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Decolonizing Technologies Speculative Fiction Workshop

by 7 March 2020

Decolonizing Technologies Speculative Fiction Workshop

Artist

Xenia Ermoshina, Nayantara Ranganathan, Manuel Beltrán

Commisioner

Elevate Festival

Location

Graz (AT)

Format

workshop
Website

Contemporary information and communication technologies pretend to bind the whole world together enforcing permanent contentedness and “always-online” as the only right way of living. The IT enthusiasts promote apps, AIs, bots and other web-based tools as “ubiquitous” solutions to almost every problem that our planet is facing today. But what if these problems are symptoms of the paradigm in which these technologies have been thought and built? What if their very design and ontology bears in itself the cultural hegemony of the Global North?

This workshop proposes a collective deconstruction of contemporary Internet-based technologies in terms of their cultural, racial, ethnic and other biases. This deconstruction happens in three stages:

First, there is a brief introduction on history and philosophy of “western science and technology”, unboxing the attitude to Nature as an “object” (res extensae), as a “tool” to reach ambitious goals of the expanding civilization. Then the participants question the contemporary “humanitarian tech”, that has never really abandoned the paradigm of Enlightenment, with dozens of “missionary” startups that pretend to bring high tech solutions to “third world” problems.

Second, the workshop compares the “making for” and “making with”, as two different attitudes to designing technologies. There are several projects presented that have been developing together by and with the indigenous populations of Mexico, India and other “non-western” countries. Then, a few pictures and videos from these projects are  shown and participants discuss what makes them different from the colonizing “start-up” approach mentioned before.

Third, the organisers engage the audience into speculative fiction process by proposing a few challenges faced by several “non-western” regions (including environmental crisis, gender-related problems, economic difficulties) and splitting into three groups to imagine a decolonizing tech solution to the given challenges. In the end of the workshop everyone gets together again to show our ideas and share critiques and feedback.

Photo David Alabo

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