Computing in/from the South: A Special Section of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience

Deadline: September 30, 2018

“Computing in/from the South”
Edited by Sareeta Amrute and Luis Felipe R. Murillo
Afterword by Kavita Philip and Anusuya Sengupta

A Special Section of Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience

Computer expertise involves technical competence, infrastructures,
interdependent economies, and distinctive political projects. Yet, most
often, computing is examined from Silicon Valley outwards. In this
special issue, we reverse this polarity by asking, what does computing
expertise as political action look like from the South? Following on
John and Jean’s Comaroff’s Theory from the South (2014), the emergent
literature on the “Globalization from below” (Alba, Lins Ribeiro,
Matthews, Vega, 2015), and feminist approaches to technoscience that
stress entanglements between bodies and materials (Barad 2007, Haraway
1991, Chun 2013) and the political and economic formations such
entanglements may yield (Suchman 2015, Atanasoski and Vora 2015,
McGlotten 2016), these articles investigate what it means to
re-territorialize and prefigure technopolitical projects outside the
main axes of digital work.

Journalistic and other professional accounts of computing have helped to
create a reified depiction of an undifferentiated expert community along
class, gender, ethnicity, religion, and other socioeconomic dimensions.
Ethnographic work has contributed a different picture through the
examination of the liberal roots of various Free and Open Source
communities (Coleman 2012; Kelty 2008; Leach 2009) and by looking at the
labor of “other” experts beyond the metropolitan centers (Philip, Irani,
and Dourish 2012; Takhteyev 2012; Chan 2013; Amrute 2016). This special
section explores distinctive manifestations of technical politics in the
Global South, understood as a position in unfolding sociotechnical
relationships as much as a geopolitical location. Through computer
experts’ work and technopolitical imaginaries we ask, how might new
political forms incorporate the market logics of competitiveness,
agility, autonomy, and risk while contending with non-liberal and, at
times, anti-capitalistic dispositions? How does shifting the dominant
perspectives on computing afford an alternate view of progress and
future societies? How do models of technical innovation become tied to
state practices, public policies, expert community-building, and the
everyday labor of embodied technical work? How do practitioners ‘of the
South’ pursue feminist and queer, anti-gentrification and
free/open-source projects that might both yield viable substitute models
and intensify relations of debt and inequality for, and crucially,
within, the South?

We welcome articles that investigate computing from the standpoint of
the South — that is, from a standpoint that begins with conditions of
life outside the presumed model of computing in Silicon Valley and other
hegemonic Euro-American centers of IT development— to bring into the
purview of sociotechnical analyses computing problems of innovation and
extraction, expertise and labor, development and precarity across race,
ethnicity, gender, ability, cultural capital, and class.

Contributors might use this opportunity to examine how practices of
computing are linked to nation-making through promissory strategies
(Patel 2015), how computing from the South re-configures expert models
and infrastructures across political locations, and how practices of
refusal make their way into current imaginaries of computing (Pilar
2016, cardenas 2015). Drawing from varied modes of technical and
political engagement, articles may engage phenomena ordinarily broken up
into disciplinary topics (moral and political economy, labor, gender,
virtuality, data infrastructures, finance, discourse, political
institutions, space and place-making, globalization, embodiment, and so
on) and consider how they are held together, bracketed, obscured and
transformed in computing practices. For our purposes, we seek to
maintain a critical and transdisciplinary approach to the study of
informational capitalism that can be amplified precisely by starting
with an analysis of, and from, the South.
HOW TO CONTRIBUTE

We welcome abstracts (max. 500 words) by June 15th. By September 30th,
we will request a complete submission (max. 8.000 words) to be sent for
peer-review. The volume has no disciplinary focus: we welcome
contributions from anthropology, history, sociology, computer science
(HCI, CSCW), Science and Technology Studies (STS), etc.

To send us your contribution, write to ‘unixjazz@riseup.net’ and
‘amrutes@uw.edu’ with the following subject line: “Article for Catalyst:
Computing in/from the South”.
REFERENCES

Alba Vega, Carlos; Gustavo Lins Ribeiro; Gordon Mathews and Mario A.
Zamudio Vega. 2015. La globalización desde Abajo. La Otra Economía
mundial. Cuidad de Mexico: Fondo de Cultura.

Amrute, Sareeta. 2016. Encoding Race Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers
in Berlin. Durham: Duke University Press.

Atanasoski, Neda and Vora, Kalindi 2015. “Surrogate Humanity: Posthuman
Networks and the (Racialized) Obsolescence of Labor” Catalyst: Feminism,
Theory, Technoscience. 1(1):1-40.

Barad, Karen Michelle. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum
Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning.

cardenas, micha 2015. “Shifting Futures: Digital Trans of Color Praxis”
Ada: Journal of Gender, New Media and Technology.

Chan, Anita. 2013. Networking peripheries: technological futures and the
myth of digital universalism. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. 2013. Programmed Visions: Software and Memory.
Boston: The MIT Press.

Coleman, Gabriella. 2012. Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of
Hacking. Princeton University Press.

Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. 2014. Theory from the South, Or,
How Euro-America Is Evolving toward Africa. Boulder, CO: Paradigm
Publishers.

Haraway, Donna. 1991. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of
Nature. New York: Routledge.

Kelty, Christopher. 2008. Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free
Software. Durham: Duke University Press.

Leach, James. 2009. “Freedom Imagined: Morality and Aesthetics in Open
Source Software Design.” In: Ethnos, 74 (1): 51–71.

McGlotten, Shaka 2016. “Black Data” The Scholar and Feminist Online.
Traversing Technologies, Special Issue. Edited by Patrick Kellty and
Leslie Regan Shade. 13.3-14.1.
http://sfonline.barnard.edu/traversing-technologies/

Patel, Geeta 2015. “Seeding Debt: Alchemy, Death, and the Precarious
Farming of Life-Finance in the Global South” Cultural Critique 89:1-37.

Pilar, Praba 2016. “Enigma Symbiotica” The Scholar and Feminist Online.
Traversing Technologies, Special Issue. Edited by Patrick Kellty and
Leslie Regan Shade. 13.3-14.1.
http://sfonline.barnard.edu/traversing-technologies/

Suchman, Lucy 2015 “Situational Awareness: Deadly Bioconvergence at the
Boundaries of Bodies and Machines” MediaTropes 5(1):1-24.

Takhteyev, Yuri. 2012. Coding Places: Software Practice in a South
American City. Cambridge: MIT Press.