Computing in/from the south call for papers

#18

Ayo!

I’m not good at writing… but I’d like to help couse I believe this is a very important work you’re doing!

I’ve read all the topic … I’m agreeing on almost everything but I feel a bit lost. Is there a main focus you’re writing on, or someway is an open investigation?

Some feelings…

It seems they belong to the past… they’re still very live :slight_smile:
also… quilombos are communities of african seized people that resisted to portuguese and european slavery and culture. Just yesterday, speaking with Layla of Casa Tainã, she made this point. It’s important to change the use of term slave, and use “enslaved human”.

I’d like to share more, maybe setting an online meeting, to sync more with you’re work.

Hugs,
Vince/befree

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#19

cool Vince @befree , its so good to hear you, this is exactly the kind of feedback that I need please tell when things are relevant or when you already thought them through and you think they are in fact different.

The goal here is to present those 3 projects not by by asking whether they where a success or not, but by explaining that they take a completely different perspective on technology by encompassing language, community knowledge and social organization problematics. This approach works for liberation rather then commodification (another servitude), and feminist theory has developed many concepts and research that can apply to this assertion. In fact feminist theory is a great tool to explain the ties that actual social organization uses to bind us to capitalism, that derives directly from white male patriarchal organisation, via religious and economic organisation justifying slavery.

Reason I started this with @arianestolfi , is because first I found the call for papers very interesting, and I know the editors are of good will, then, I realized there was no analysis of those projects from this perspective, I think are very unique, they managed to happen because of a very precise alliance of conditions, and it is very import to report on them so that people get largely aware of this existing possibility and to continue support them.

But to make any thing that has any validity I very much need the feed back from all of you, please correct input criticize its all welcome.

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#20

Hey Vince, we could set up an audio meeting, but I think it’s important that comments come in writing rather than by voice otherwise they get lost. We could record audio and transcript as well, but this has to come to the written form at some point. The delay is also very short.

We have a mumble room at gnunet.org called PUBLIC that’s waiting for us, otherwise a Jitsi channel at https://meet.jit.si/bbx. In both cases, being able to record sound would be best.

I’m not sure I get this formulation. I do understand what it means (people kidnapped in Africa and enslaved) but it’s not as explicit as what I just put in parenthesis.

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#21

Title: A feminist methodology to understand Free software territory:

“Technoxamanismo” and “Baobaxia” networks in Brazil

intro: take back the future

“Take back the future” is the keyword that popped up while reading different documents and communications coming from the very active independent Brazilian networks that have been serving Singular Technologies in association with spaces of resistance, we mean intentional and contextual technologies. “The concepts of Third-TechnoScape and Singular Technologies stem from the need to characterize daily practice by citizen groups that deploy their successful institutional arrangements and afordances under the radar and outside the competency of traditional institutions. Both concepts do not try to define any tangible essence, but rather articulate social dynamics of the studied groups.”[1] We qualify these social dynamics as the unique relation that technological processes emerge from. Decentralized technological infrastructures are diverse, they develop along different paths, and Singular Technologies multiply across the world, their hybridization with a community or a place, settles a space of resistance, another relation technology. The uniqueness of those Brazilian projects reside in their alliance with communities, in a hybrid trans-disciplinary methodology at a determined moment of Brazil’s politics.

As it appears that the dominant centralized corporate technological model, deploys a monopolistic power over our communication infrastructure, resulting in the argument of scale often opposed to decentralized free software and independent projects, opposing them that they are underdeveloped and cannot face the competition of tech giants. However, in this article we will approach this issue with a different perspective addressing how Singular Technologies converge with community organization creating a unique terrain for identity construction, resistance, expression and solidarity, that contrast with the dominant perspective that takes for granted the superiority of proprietary technology development, where the latter cannot create anything like the initiatives under focus. From a feminist perspective these initiatives address the necessary engagement with context and express consideration given to the tool. A Feminist Epistemology considers necessary principles of intra-action (Barad) looking for apparatuses that are conceived in situation opening ways for contextual interaction. This article will focus on “knowledges” brought by otherwise left behind social groups. These groups do not necessarily come from a minority but, as they exist under several axis of oppression, might form a divergent viewpoint and are thus generally not considered.

This analysis will present the history of important projects in free software that built infrastructure for specific communities in Brazil, and work to understand the horizontal and emerging spaces they have help to build, within capitalist society. In the light of the very important historical Manifesto Antropófago [2] we will consider their antropophagist organization. The research problem we will explore concerns the question of the role and place of digital activism in the Brazilian context, and how a Third-Technoscape emerges from an anti-colonial position and cultural narrative re-appropriation, leading to the invention of Singular Technologies. We will focus on how local “knowledges” of oppressed Brazilian groups are translated into the formation of computer networks and technologies that create infrastructure for Afrobrazilian communities. this research will focus on 3 projects Metaracyclagem, Baobaxia, Technochamanism (Tcnxsm). Those 3 projects expand in time from the beginning of the 2000’s to actual Brazil, they were especially active and dynamic during the first decenial of the century as there was explicit support to independant systems of communication.

  • Baobaxia
    Baobaxia associates specific cultural and traditional notions of communication to the idea of a digital network aiming to characterize it as a tool belonging to its community composed and formulated as such, and moreover as a instrument of resistance: “Uma Rede de Servidores Locais - a roda de conversa com o tema Baobáxia na Rota dos Baobás” [3]
    Baobáxia has implemented with Rede Mocambos more than 200 servers, a rota dos baobabs (“the route of baobabs”) in Brazilian Quilombos [4] all over the country, implementing a Git-based decentralized free software, that functions as an eventually connected network, allowing the communities to share their media and information independently. Each implementation of a mucua (node of the network named after the fruit of the Baobab) is assorted to a community oriented workshop, presenting and sharing the technology in a horizontal model.

  • Metareciclagem
    Metareciclagem is a network that was active mostly between 2002 and 2012, who got important for the governmental project of puntos da cultura, and was also linked to the protest movement lixo electronico both projects were co.founded by Felipe Fonseca. Metareciclagem has organised the creative upcycling and reuse of discarded computers to the benefit of a number of citizen groups, promoting not only free software but mostly creative appropriation of electronics as “Gambiarra” (Fonseca, 2015) by reusing, recreating, coloring, or any other mean people could think of.

  • Technochamanism
    Tcnxsm is another network that positions itself in resistance, it is dystopian and pessimistic, but yet entropic as it resonates creating noise in this dystopian future, take back the future. Tcnxsm is a network, that builds from existing projects, targeted towards autonomy but considering autonomy as a pathway a process that never really achieves since everything is always connected.“ Technoshamanism is neither the beginning nor the end, it is a medium.” Tcnxsm is a space of articulation, a network, (Borges 2017).

In this research we will concentrate on the conceptualization of those Singular Technologies and their specific ideological approach, starting from a long term observation of the projects in perspective, a personal connection to their participants in Brazil and via autonomous free-software European networks such as Bricolabs, and also an analysis of the important documentation recorded on the projects websites and wiki, where participatory methodology of development has been carefully documented.
Indeed all three projects are related, as they are intertwined to a specific moment of Brazilian history where support was given to free software and multidimensional cultural projects by the former ministry of culture, Gilberto Gil (who is also famous musician, and a key figure of Tropicalia avant-garde movement of the 60’s), however they do not happen and continue existing exactly in the same ways, and they also each have specific relations to Europe, among other places via the transnational network Bricolabs.

Hybridity is their main characterization and strength, all come from the cross breeding of a culture of resistance manifesting itself through language, cultural appropriation, a spiritual quest and a desire for independent infrastructure. As we will go we will observe how they successfully put in practice the savage tradition of absorbing, cannibalizing occidental technologies, taking back the future by “rooting technology” a double-entendre: first, “rooting” as in growing roots, with reference to locality ; then, “rooting” as the hacker jargon for gaining privileged access to a system, here: re-appropriating technology production., and acknowledging ancient history, this in the scope of those project implies several levels of action, that this analyse will group in 2 parts:

  • Language appropriation
    Using appropriate language for their projects Baobaxia, Tcnxsm, and Metareciclagem have treated a dedicated language for their technologies and technological practice, a language they dream more appropriate because it fits better their knowledges and conception of communication.
  • Cultural coherence, Those three projects present on the cultural coherence of their appropriation of technology insisting that this is the essential meaning of taking back the future as it associate contemporary technology to ancestral knowledges. resulting in the construction of a specific Infrastructure, Third Technoscape understood as an active pathway.

The movement has started at the beginning of the 2000, a little bit before Lula’s presidency where he appointed Gilberto Gil, active participant to the Tropicalism movement, (an important critical cultural movement of the 60’s in Brazil) as ministry of culture. At this moment in time, worldwide, there was a desire to “bridge the digital gap” and bring connectivity “everywhere”; in Brazil, the size of the territory, the importance of every specific knowledge, the number of the communities, made for a very unique terrain to develop connectivity. In the supportive political context, free software was promoted in the context of “Puntos da Cultura”, a program to bring connectivity in remote communities through dedicated sites. Involved in this challenging movement Metareciclagem, and Baobaxia contributed to the program, among others with Casa da Cultura de Taína, developing Gambiarra computing and decentralized “eventually connected networks” all over the country. We will be looking at the organizational choices of they made, and consider their position as one of resistance, acknowledging that the systemic support they received is negligible compare to tha one receive by any major company.

LANGUAGE a PROCESS of ABSORPTION

As N K Hayles has framed it: “Language alone is no longer the distinctive characteristic of technologically developed societies; rather it is language plus code”[5], she calls this: regimes of computation. Therefore she claims, language analysis and critic needs to embed technology in the different ways that it materializes. In Brazil, Singular Technologies have an anthropófagic approach, they manage to achieve a differentiated formulation of key concepts about networks and digital technologies, both by renaming the concepts and the elements of the network and reorganizing the network itself, to a decentralized model, as well as the code and its modalities.
Relatedly, Pohlhaus (2012) has argued that marginalized subjects are in a better position to notice gaps in our collective epistemic resources in order to properly describe and conceptualize the experiences of those who are socially oppressed. "I develop an understanding of willful hermeneutic ignorance, which occurs when dominantly situated knowers refuse to acknowledge epistemic tools developed from the experienced world of those situated marginally. Such refusals allow dominantly situated knowers to misunderstand, misinterpret, and/or ignore whole parts of the world " [6]

Singular Technologies share modalities that do not only differ in their organization and coding language. A Technoscape as other landscapes, qualifies from many different points of view, as in technology, language is a specific part of those many aspects, as well as other forms of cultural significance such as time place/localization, the projects we study here are built from the concepts of “situated knowers”, every element comes from principles that are key to those who relate to the Technologies, they also significantly rename concepts and tools, transforming the relation to technology in a community centered process, a Singular Technology eventually forming a 3rd Technoscape.

The Baobaxia project is rooted in a specific the use of ancestral knowledges and concepts by communities pertaining to Rede Mocambos: a network of Quilombos. Quilombos are communities of African seized people that resisted to Portuguese and European slavery and culture. The presentation of the project on Baobaxia website begins by a complete renaming of all the elements composing a network, this renaming is essential to the structure of the project, it is based on a language that is true to the Quilombos organization, functioning as building blocks to the service of their resistance carried over the centuries. The project’s wiki, serves as the main documentation tool for the project, umerous workshops events technical meetings, reports, funding quests etc… are reported, including report of the assemblies, one can read:
“Some of the themes of the conversation wheels were the Principles and Reflections on the Mocambos Network - at this time the speeches were oriented around the name Mocambos and the technology of the drum; the form of organization of the Quilombo dos Palmares was in Mocambos, so called their houses. Another symbolic element, the Baobá, was in the middle of the wheel; the philosophy of the Baobá and the drum are central to the Mocambos Network: they are at the service of humanity, offer meaning to the world and strengthen a political commitment: never stop fighting.” “Pajelança do dia 27 de maio e 3 de Junho de 2013 IV encontro da rede Mocambos” [7]

Felipe Fonseca who was central to Metareciclagem, also proposed to rework language. He used the popular concept of “Gambiarra”(Fonseca, 2015), meaning refurbishing, in a unique and creative popular environment. Specifically he meant: creatively appropriating devices otherwise discarded by the mainstream products, an idea that was later grabbed in the upcycling movement. However, not only did “Gambiarra” meant repairing and enhancing objects and machines, but doing so thanks to collective effort, in communities and free software, invention and creativity. Here again the choice of the term “Gambiarra” is not hazardous but corresponds to a valorization of popular Brazilian culture that creatively deals with material defections, therefore adds intimate and personal value to objects, and most importantly integrates this process in a social and community based process.

As Hayles explores the impact of code on everyday life, she argues that it has become comparable to that of speech and writing: language and code have grown more entangled, the lines that once separated humans from machines, analog from digital, and old technologies from new ones have become blurred. While this can be seen as a colonization of everyday life led by major telecommunication companies, Singular Technologies engage in activating differently this space of knowledge. In this prospect, the claim raised by Fabi Borges, main researcher of the Tecnoshamanism (Tcnxsm) network, to practice Ancestrofuturismo (Borges 2016), is bridging the timeline from ancestral knowledges to actual technological practice. In the Tcnxsm network, Fabi Borges asserts shamanism as a technology of knowledge production based on ancestral models of communication. She argues that Tcnxsm builds on these ancestral technologies of communication, and pairs them to contemporary digital technologies. In order to reach her purpose she looks for entropic interferences and noise that recombine to bring forth a “Shamanic Ontology” to technological production rather then as she calls it “Capitalist Ontology”. She says “and it is entropic because it inhabits this paradoxical set of forces and maintains an improbable noise – its perpetual noisecracy, its state of disorganization and insecurity is continuous and is constantly recombining itself.” (Borges, 2016) She brings this recombination of language to the larger scope of concepts, and ontologies, affirming a resistance across time and places, in a hybrid process that inhabits many spaces.

All 3 projects are active in decolonizing language, a process they run in parallel to decolonization of technology, the later is characterized by the use of free software and decentralized infrastructure, this analysis will be developed further. Both processes are complimentary, constitutive and intrinsic to the project, it feels that such a throughout process cannot be justified by the sole necessity to respond to a lack of infrastructure, or a specific situation of some isolated communities. On the contrary, these projects are born from an encompassing tentative to remodel technology from needs and knowledges of these communities and they have developed unique hybrid infrastructures where social organization actively differs from existing social organization of technologies, led by monopolistic corporations. All three networks build Singular Technologies of resistance, creating space for a third Technoscape that is activated by the communities, their knowledges, through an active process of appropriation, and structural support from the state in the context of Puntos da Cultura. While the implementation of Puntos da cultura in Brazil has sometimes been criticized for bringing the “worst of the Internet” despite proposing computers installed with free software (Foster 2008), the approach that those three networks took is contrary, as they started from the communities themselves. Baobaxia directly associated inhabitants and included their local process of governance as documented on the baobaxia wiki in the reports available on their wiki. Metareciclagem, developed processes that were not only attached to rede Mocambos, Felipe Fonseca explains very well the process and its close relation to puntos da Cultura in a Lift presentation from 2013 [8], where he emphasizes that some principles were set in collaboration with ministry of culture about principles such as, primacy of culture over technology, use of free software and open licences, easy accessibillity and active education. In the context of metarecliclagem, art and culture are constitutive advocated video documentation still available on you tube present the creative and educational process as a primary motivation, and motor for “Gambiarra” [9]

In those projects, decolonization of language are speech acts (Austin, 1962), decolonization of language functions there as performative utterances, affirmative in their cannibalistic approach. They embed a different relation in the existing technology. Important specific concepts pertaining to the domain of communication are not represented, therefore rendered difficult to use in the contemporary technological domain, significant areas of social experience are obscured from collective understanding of technology, such as ancestral indigenous conception of social organization and of consciousness. While all 3 projects value the relational and communication modalities presented in indigenous communities Tcnxsm is particularly clear in stating the ground fact that shamanism is a communication technology. Explaining Ancestrofuturismo, Fabi Borges says that indigenous knowledges have been riped out, she argues following Silvia Federici in her book Caliban and the Witch that “there has been a violent destruction of ancestral knowledge and technologies to leave space for science following monotheist principles.”[10] Furthermore the collusion between technological intervention and the reformulation of contextual interaction has been addressed by feminists who explain that some parts of society, have been obscured from language by simply underusing or devaluating their vocabulary, overtime denying the epistemic authority of these communities. By reassessing the relation using ancestrofuturismo, Fabi Borges formulates a diffracting relation (Barad 2007), in the sense that she brings the history of technology on other terrains, allowing for an intraction modulating ancestrofuturistisc relations based on ancestral knowledges. Breaking the sense of continuity, (re)configuring the relation to space and time by developing ancestrofuturisc modalities, Ancestrofuturismo asks to rethink with and through Dis-Contuinity. This approach diffracts various temporalities and places, across the spectrum of time and space, and therefore allows us to reconfigure the scenes, from a large set of perspectives, read them through one another, and thread through one another. “Faced with this, techno + shamanism is an articulation which tries to consider this historical trauma, these lost yet not annihilated leftovers, and to recover (and reinvent) points of connection between technology and wasted ontologies,” (Borges 2016)

All 3 networks are therefore primarily cultural processes based on a form of re-apropriation very true to the Brazilian principle of Canibalist Theory. Starting there endeavor from Language, all 3 networks activate different community organization and resistance models, producing diffracting and decentralized intra-actions. The 3 projects studied here, produce a form of conceptual engineering, that aim to revise current concepts and organize technologies that can better serve resistances; reconfiguring their capacity through active use of ancestral language, and communication practices in dedicated decentralized networks.

CULTURAL COHERENCE IS LEADING INFRASTRUCTURE, DECENTRALIZED TECHNOLOGY A CHOICE MADE FOR COLLECTIVE ORGANIZATION.

All three projects understand decentralization as a technological process inclusive of a dedicated decisional process that follows different models of “Re-appropriation” (Fonseca 2016), and where the links to historical modalities of resistance and community organization are preserved and worked as a model of decision making for the technology.
They have made distinctive choices, forming new concepts, in the light of ancestral and community organization adapting existing technical possibilities inclusive of the ones discarded by tech monopolies. They develop decentralized server projects for their communities, but also unique eventually connected networks such as Baobaxia, implementing participatory management of servers in communities, associating technological build up to a ritualized event, reassembling technologies, exposing immense possibilities of underused technologies, transforming the usage of standard tools. They have worked out a number of technological processes at the scale of active resistance, that associate technical uniqueness to a specific cultural expression and a model of resistance. We will analyze here the technical choices and their entanglement to a specific culture and a history of resistance. We will finally propose that the specific affirmations made by those networks … to form an alternative to populism.

DECENTRALIZATION

Decentralization has many implications, from the technical point of view it is a solution to existing problems caused by the accumulation of power in centralized monopolist tech companies, but in the experiences described here are not limited to technical choices, they do not suffice, and Singular Technologies build on many other organization capacities to form a Third Technoscape.
Decentralized software means that each instance of the software is hosted on a different server (each of them situated physically in a proxi or remote relation to the community or person(s) using the service), meaning that each hosting place, person or community organizes and determines the condition of usage of its instance of the software differently, sometimes determining clear criteria, and governance.
Decentralized technologies should be associated to community organization, but sometimes they are blind to this possibility and by building on existing infrastructure and cloud services they do not actively think about ways to reconfigure existing distribution of power in technology. While decentralization has been a major trend in the last few years, it is scarcely discussed as a possibility for a reorganization of technological practice. In this scope, the conversation needs not only to be technical as, decentralized infrastructure also implies a distributed system of decision making, and according accountability and responsibility.

Therefore decentralization allows for a diversity of identities and models of governance to happen, and coherently with the necessity of organizing the modalities of a network, decentralization needs a determined format of network organization to organize the communication between nodes and make for a useful technology.
In practical technical terms the organization of decentralization can happen along 2 major different modalities:

  • Federation, where instances can be federated sharing information such as notifications according to agreed protocols of communication between the different instances, in this case each instance will then be able to display an interface presenting information from the federated network of instances. The orientation of such an network is difficult to change as it is inscribed in a preliminary agreed protocol.
  • Peer to Peer networks where each node of the network is both downloading and servicing information to the network, making for a very resilient network,where any node can replace a missing one. It is difficult to search such a network without a centralized information base.

Tcnxsm Metareciclagem and Baobaxia, all have experienced decentralization technologies in many different modalities, decentralized servers, mesh networks, eventually connected networks, using both peer to peer and federated networks, always in consideration of relevant social organization and modalities of re-appropriation. Most importantly they have developed unique technologies such as the previously mentioned eventually connected network: Baobaxia. Baobaxia is a social media based on Git: a very important and otherwise widely used software, that deals with version control for large software development projects. The usage that Baobaxìa makes of Git as a basis for a social media software, is unique and very adapted to the context of the Quilombos, where access to network and electricity can be scarce. Using git as a basis, permits that users locally upload media to the “mucuas” without needing connectivity, when they do have connection they can share it to the rest of the Baobaxia federation, this way of programming is uniquely responding to the needs of remotely situated Quilombos, it has been implemented in collaboration with important local social centers part of Rede mocambos, such as Casa Taína, during dedicated workshops that took place in the different Quilombos engaging inhabitants and their local organization in a reflection on a specific practice of technology, related to the history of Quilombos; where preserving culture and organising life has been done since centuries hidding away from the oppressor. Indeed, the relation to visibility and invisibility is crucial to the history of Quilombos.

Transformative practice and affirmative resistance are the contexts set here, decentralization and the specific eventually connected network proposed by Baobaxia sitting at the fringes of mainstream technological model, freecycling its hardware components in Gambiarra and autonomizing its technology, organizing dedicated decision making processes through workshop happening in each of the 200 nodes of the network, defining its own network and proposing unique community produced media. However, complete autonomy does not exist and even less in technological domains or media practice, while the model situates itself in the context of occidental domination, it also exists in line with centuries of invisibleness and active resistance of the Quilombos, the millenial culture of indigenous people, and active resistance of other people involved, who despite minorisation have maintained their voices and a strong and unique culture.

DIFFRACTION AND RESONANCES

Making for a very notable start, they all affirm non linearity by claiming to be networks “redes” rather then software or localized community projects, for example Fabi Borges explains in an interview[11]: “Tcnxsm is a network, it does not develop specific projects but builds from existing projects, Baobaxia is one of them. But Tcnxsm works many technologies, from radio to alternative electricity production, targeted towards autonomy; although considering autonomy as a pathway, a process that never really achieves since everything is always connected.” By this positioning not only do they set the ground for a differential model of organization a Third Technoscape, but they also foster, put in first place, autonomy of the elements of the networks and the relation between network and cultural organization, allowing for technology to be transformed by cultural practice and become a transformative practice.
“Technoshamanism is neither the beginning nor the end, it is a medium.” Tcnxsm is a space of articulation, a network.

Tcnxsm puts in question occidental civilization from its ontologies, and revokes as much the spiritual monotheist experience as much as the notion of a strict separation between species, humans and elements. It situates itself in the free culture movement and advocates for a new domain in the free culture movement, the cosmogony. In the article about ancestrofuturismo Fabi Borges explains that by affirming this she understand free culture as “liberated culture”.
This is only one aspect of the cultural positioning of Tcnxsm that of an interdisciplinary network participating to a number of domains, an open platform that aggregates different "knowledges"and environments to produce resonances within actual capitalist society.

While Subaltern studies have managed to form an occidental based critical group, the issue of fighting from a minorized perspective is far from solved, as Hamid Dabashi “Our resources do not allow us a direct narrative confrontation. We would lose. If we won, we would only replace a categorical theocracy with a conceptual monarchy. So what we need is a permanent revolution”[12]. “we” is here is to be understood from the perspective of critical thinking person, and Hamid Dabashi further develops saying that it should happen on the terrain of the subalterns/minorized.

Decentralization in technologies is a self explanatory model for this situation, where each entity hosts its communication infrastructure and defines specific models for its usage and practice ensuring the appropriation of a specific model for permanent fight and permanent revolution.

INDEPENDENT ORGANIZATION INDEPENDENT LEARNING AS A TOOL TO APPROACH POPULISM CRITICALLY

Each project presented deploys its own understanding of technology, envisionning different type of functionalities, scopes of application, and relations to the government, however they all identify with free software, and associate the notion of freedom not only to publishing the source code, but also to creating technology that is of liberation, we will utterly develop the different meanings of this assertion.

In the Baobaxia methodology/spirit congruence between accurate physicality of the encounter and accurate construction of the digital archive is promoted throughout the whole process, this translates into the project being discussed during encounters/pajelança that folow the models of governance and organisation of the communities themselves, pajelança are indigenous rituals, from the program displayed on baobaxia wiki, we see that technical workshops were organised among other subjects and equally to them. The reports make clear, all participants are described by the name used and function within their community, the reports also describe specific ritual practices and important discussions about quilombolas identity and their relation to technical processes, for example:
"During the rounds of conversations and openings of the days, the relationship between ancestry and technology was deepened in the perception of the appropriation of technology as one of the tools for the diffusion of quilombola and community contributions. "
"Durante as rodas de conversas e aberturas dos dias, a relação ancestralidade e tecnologia foi aprofundada na percepção da apropriação da tecnologia como uma das ferramentas para a difusão das contribuições quilombolas e comunitárias. "
the work led during those encounters also focuses on very important political issues such as sustainability where community sustainability and larger ecological issues are entangled and technology is envisioned in relation to both, making for important political discussions.

In addition, care is taken to publish online the reports in their integrality, including the many interventions of different nature, this demonstrates how the attention is put to build and deploy a technology that converges with all existing reflections in the comunity, being atuned not only with existing models of community organisation, but also with political revendication and ll the reports archived on the wiki of the organisation would it be thinking of governance issues such as collective reflection on the space of the encounter.

“In the sacred presence of the Baobab, which represents our African roots, TC draws attention to the importance of spirituality and passes the word to Mother Beth of Oxum, of Olinda, to pass on the axé, the spiritual strength, the communication. She sang a song for Ossanha, accompanied by the drums. She remembered the importance of strength through the leaves, because we are around the Baobab. He also did a song for Oxum and Yemanjá.”
“Na presença sagrada do Baobá, que representa as nossas raízes africanas, TC chama a atenção para a importância da espiritualidade e passa a palavra à Mãe Beth de Oxum, de Olinda, para passar o axé, a força espiritual, a comunicação. Ela cantou um canto para Ossanha, acompanhada pelos tambores. Lembrou da importância da força pelas folhas, pois estamos ao redor do Baobá. Fez ainda um canto para Oxum e para Yemanjá.”

"Uma Rede de Servidores Locais - a roda de conversa com o tema Baobáxia na Rota dos Baobás**, se debruçou sobre o projeto que vai estruturar uma rede de comunicação comunitária através de servidores locais , que inicialmente serão instalados em algumas comunidades para que se possa aprofundar o desenvolvimento do sistema e, a longo prazo, integrar todas as comunidades da rede Mocambos que poderão trocar conteúdo sem depender exclusivamente da internet. "

Positioning oneself is the first necessary step to take in not relying on North and South as seemingly empty signifiers, but embracing the full scope of the situation from a history of economic domination. Confronting the destruction of cultural practices as they are fed into the productivist agenda.

Baobaxia has been thought from scratch as a tool allowing to render visible history of quilombolos and mestisos, and to do such differentiating from the rising evangelist movement that has an important public visibility and promotes a severely restricted ideology.

"Mãe Beth questiona: por que os professores não foram capacitados para ensinar a história da África? Há pesquisa em povos de terreiro, os doutores passam por lá, por que não chega onde deve chegar? Falou que é importante separar relação pessoal e histórica (política) entre evangélicos e religiões de matriz afro. Os conflitos se dão localmente. "
https://wiki.mocambos.net/index.php/Núcleos_de_Formação_Continuada#Relat.C3.B3rio_Resumido_Pajelan.C3.A7a_do_dia_27_de_Maio_e_3_de_Junho_de_2013
[1] Petites Singularités “Singular Technologies and the Third-Technoscape” JOPP (Journal of Peer production)#11 city, February 2018, http://peerproduction.net/editsuite/issues/issue-11-city/experimental-format/singular-technologies-the-third-technoscape/

[2] Oswald de Andrae, Manifesto Antropófago, Em Piratininga, Ano 374 da Deglutição do Bispo Sardinha, (Revista de Antropofagia, Ano I, No. I, maio de 1928.) http://www.ufrgs.br/cdrom/oandrade/oandrade.pdf

[3] [4]https://wiki.mocambos.net/index.php/NPDD/Baobáxia (last seen 07/02/2019)

[5] Hayles ref

[6] Polhaus ref

[7] "Alguns dos temas das rodas de conversa foram os Princípios e Reflexões sobre a Rede Mocambos - neste momento as falas foram orientadas em torno do nome Mocambos e da tecnologia do tambor; a forma de organização do Quilombo dos Palmares era em Mocambos, assim chamavam suas moradias. Outro elemento simbólico, o Baobá, esteve no meio da roda; a filosofia do Baobá e do tambor são centrais na Rede Mocambos: estão a serviço da humanidade, oferecem sentido ao mundo e fortalecem um compromisso político: nunca mais deixar de lutar."Introduction to the Pajelança Quilombólica Digital, Territorios Digitais Livres - Materia da TVB - Record (Abril 2015) referenced on https://wiki.mocambos.net/index.php/NPDD/Baobáxia#Pajelan.C3.A7a_Quilomb.C3.B3lica_Digital.2C_Territorios_Digitais_Livres_-Materia_da_TVB-Record.28Abril_2015.29 (last seen 27/02/2019)

[8]https://vimeo.com/16886067 (last seen 07/02/2019)

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLZhWpskek4

[10][11] Source: Em Rede – http://www.em-rede.com/site/entrevista/fabiane-m-borges-tecnoxamanismo-como-meio-de-recuperar-e-reinventar-pontos-de-conexão (last seen 07/01/2019)

[12] Em Rede – http://www.em-rede.com/site/entrevista/fabiane-m-borges-tecnoxamanismo-como-meio-de-recuperar-e-reinventar-pontos-de-conexão (last seen 07/01/2019)
[13] "Nos ressources ne nous permettent pas une confrontation narrative directe. Nous perdrions. Si nous gagnions, nous ne ferions que remplacer une théocratie catégorique par une monarchie conceptuelle. Ce qu’il nous faut donc, c’est une révolution permanente. "
Dabashi Hamid, « Je ne suis pas subalterniste », Tumultes, 2010/2 (n° 35), p. 215-235. DOI : 10.3917/tumu.035.0215. URL : https://www.cairn.info/revue-tumultes-2010-2-page-215.htm

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#22

In https://www.scuttlebutt.nz/talks, a mention is made of a Quilombola:

Scuttlebutt has a large community of users who together develop the platform. Completely open-source there are many initiatives of projects, maintenance and initiatives as part of the Scuttlebutt ecosystem. Some of these projects range from local community on-boarding by @luandro in Quilombola - Brazil, git-ssb by @cel, or a chess interface!

SecureScuttleButt (SSB) certainly is a candidate for future implementations of Baobaxia. BBX over SSB would indeed bring BBX to new heights, building up on proven crypto and offline-first connectivity.

1 Like

#23

This reference might be useful also, specially the first section, they talk about feminism and recent movements in Brazil politics

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1E_fJAsK5t0_6P6m9BI6djKdLpeGkW9I7/view?fbclid=IwAR1RXdKoWHW1EteXkPHTYWAOjhSgZRzyuSXPUuVGlewMS18JHVJxOJOGVJo

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#24

Hey Ariane! We’re proofreading with @natacha :slight_smile:

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#25

Hey thx loads it looks super interesting will go through it, it would be super useful if you explains where it could be used in the text…

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#26

Cris Costa is saying that networks are giving visibility to themes that were not discussed before such as black trans and lesbian feminism, and says that femisnm is probably the issue that gained more power with the decentralization

1 Like

#27

Amazing I 100% agree with this. Do you have a moment this week, maybe we can set a chat discuss this further

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#28

I’m travelling tomorrow to join this event,

https://www.digitalia.com.br/
so it will be a bit difficult to meet

i’m back home after 4th of february only

0 Likes

#29

I see…

0 Likes

#30

Nice have a good time, lets talk when u come back…

0 Likes

#31

Abstract

This article will discuss unique Free Software-based digital infrastructures and networks that were actively developed in Brazilian communities, presenting situated models of resistance. We will provide the background of the networks and characterize their unique discourse as, along with their infrastructure, it is largely understudied. Through understanding their decentralised technological setup, these aparatuses benefit a broader understanding intersectional and decolonial studies. The analysis we pursue highlights the importance of minorised technological practice that convey integral organisational models opposing capitalist hegemony. In order to frame our research problem, we will mobilize a feminist epistemology which considers necessary principles of “intra-action” (Barad 2007) across heterogeneous sociotechnical spaces.

Then, we will proceed to explore intersections between the different projects, such as: Baobáxia, “a rota os Baobas” an network which nodes are located in over 200 Quilombolas communities; “Metareciclagem” where a group of Brazilian technologists and artists have been promoting the “up-cycling” of discarded computing technologies and their usage for artistic expression through “Gambiarra” (“makeshift”) ; and another political articulation of the reflection about the appropriation of digital technologies that has given rise to practices which are identified by local activists and artists as “technoshamanism.”

The role and place of digital activism in the Brazilian context is uniquely tied to acknowledging specific needs of the communities at a moment in time. The construction of “singular technologies”emerges from an decolonial position and cultural narrative reappropriation,supported by a benevolent policy, is very informative on the ways that a Third Technoscape emerges.

Intro: Take Back the Future

“Take back the future” is the keyword that popped up while reading different documents and communications coming from the very active independent Brazilian networks that have been serving Singular Technologies, we mean intentional and contextual technologies. “The concepts of Third-TechnoScape and Singular Technologies stem from the need to characterize daily practice by citizen groups that deploy their successful institutional arrangements and afordances under the radar and outside the competency of traditional institutions. Both concepts do not try to define any tangible essence, but rather articulate social dynamics of the studied groups.”[1] We qualify these social dynamics as the unique relation that technological processes emerge from. Decentralized technological infrastructures are diverse, they develop along different paths, and Singular Technologies multiply across the world, their hybridization with a community or a place, settles a space of resistance, another relation technology. The uniqueness of those Brazilian projects reside in their alliance with communities, in a hybrid trans-disciplinary methodology at a determined moment of Brazil’s politics.

It appears that the dominant centralized corporate technological model, deploys a monopolistic power over our communication infrastructure, resulting in the argument of scale often opposed to decentralized free software and independent projects, arguing they cannot face the competition of tech giants. However, in this article we will approach this issue with a different perspective addressing how Singular Technologies converge with community organization creating a unique terrain for identity construction, resistance, expression and solidarity, that contrasts with the dominant perspective.Working from a necessary distance, this research is fed by some direct implication of the authors in those networks, and the cross-reading of the archives hosted on different online platforms, mostly wikis.

From a feminist perspective these initiatives address the necessary engagement with context and express consideration given to the tool. A Feminist Epistemology considers necessary principles of intra-action (Barad) looking for apparatuses that are conceived in situation opening ways to understanding phenomena emerging from their agents.

This analysis will approach important, although minorised free software projects in Brazil, and work to understand the horizontal and emerging spaces they have help to build. The research will focus on seizing a specific discourse of digital activism in the Brazilian context, enlightning how a Third-Technoscape emerges from an anti-colonial position and cultural narrative re-appropriation. In the light of the historical Manifesto Antropófago[2], we will consider their anthropophagist organization, absorbing western practices in computer networks and technologies and regurgitating them with a transformed discourse to the use of oppressed Brazilian groups creating for example infrastructure for Afrobrazilian communities. This research will focus on 3 projects: Metaracyclagem, Baobáxia, Technoshamanism (Tcnxsnm). Those 3 projects expand in time from the beginning of the 2000’s to actual Brazil, they were especially active and dynamic during the first decade of the century as there was explicit support to independent communication systems.

  • Baobáxia: "A Network of Local Servers - the conversation wheel with the theme Baobáxia, the Route of Baobabs."[3] Baobáxia has implemented with Rede Mocambos more than 200 servers, a Rota dos Baobabs (“the route of baobabs”) in Afrobrazilian communities: Quilombos all over the country, that allows the communities to share their media and information independently. Each implementation of a mucua (node of the network named after the fruit of the baobab) is assorted to a community-oriented workshop, presenting and sharing the technology and reflecting on its nature and its purpose through specific cultural practices.

  • Metareciclagem network was active mostly between 2002 and 2012, is central to the governmental project of ‘puntos da cultura’, and was also linked to the protest movement ‘lixo electrônico’ both projects were co-founded by Felipe Fonseca. Metareciclagem has organised the creative up-cycling and reuse of discarded computers to the benefit of a number of citizen groups, promoting not only free software but mostly creative appropriation of electronics as "Gambiarra&quot and “HiperTropicalProgramação”.; (Fonseca, 2015).

  • Tecnoxamanismo (TCNXSMNSM, or TCNXSM) positions itself in resistance, it is dystopian and pessimistic, but yet entropic as it resonates creating noise in this dystopian future, aiming at taking back the future. TCNXSM network, builds from existing projects, targeted towards autonomy but considering autonomy as a pathway a process that never really achieves since everything is always connected. “Technoshamanism is neither the beginning nor the end, it is a medium.” TCNXSM is a space of articulation, a network, (Borges 2017).

All three projects are related, as they are intertwined to a specific moment of Brazilian history where support was given to free software and multidimensional cultural projects by the former ministry of culture, Gilberto Gil (who is also famous musician, and a key figure of Tropicalia avant-garde movement of the 60’s).

These projects develop in a culture of resistance manifesting itself through language, cultural appropriation, spiritual quest and a necessity for independent infrastructure. We will observe how they successfully put in practice taking back the future by "rooting technology" a double-entendre: first, “rooting” as in growing roots, with reference to locality ; then, “rooting” as the hacker jargon for gaining privileged access (superuser, or root) to a system, here: re-appropriating technology production, and acknowledging ancient history, this in the scope of those project implies several levels of action, that this analysis will take a cross-look at all three projects from 2 specific angles:

Firstly, Emphasizing their strategy of appropriating technology through a dedicated language for their technologies and technological practice. Baobáxia, TCNXSM, and Metareciclagem have developed a language they deem more appropriate because it fits better their "knowledges" and conception of communication. This important appropriation, ca be understood as a process of absorption allowing for different models of expression in the digital space.

Further on we will examine their process of building coherence and intra-action in the technology, it is the essential meaning of taking back the future. Associating contemporary technology to ancestral "knowledges" results in the development of specific decentralized infrastructure, from dedicated free software, Third Technoscape is understood as an active pathway.


The movement has started at the beginning of the 2000, a little bit before Lula’s presidency where he appointed Gilberto Gil, active participant to the Tropicalism movement (an important critical cultural movement of the 60’s in Brazil), as minister of culture. At this moment in time, worldwide, there was a desire to “bridge the digital gap” and bring connectivity “everywhere”; in Brazil, the size of the territory, the number of different communities, the importance and the isolation of many specific knowledges, made for a very unique terrain to develop connectivity. In the supportive political context, free software was promoted in the context of the program “Puntos de Cultura” aiming to “valorize cultural initiatives from groups and communities, augmenting access to means of production”[4]. Involved in this challenging movement, Metareciclagem and Baobáxia contributed to the program with, among others, Casa de Cultura Tainã. We will present the unique technologies they developed and organized all over the country. We will be looking at the organizational choices they made, and consider their position as one of resistance, acknowledging that the systemic support they received is negligible compare to the one received by major companies who established new capital accumulation strategies for the capitalist Internet economy (Fuchs 2015).

language a process of absorption

Singular Technologies such as the ones presented here share modalities that differ in their organization and coding language. As N K Hayles has framed it: "Language alone is no longer the distinctive characteristic of technologically developed societies; rather it is language plus code" (Hayles 2010), she calls this: regimes of computation. Therefore, she claims, language analysis and critique needs to embed technology in the different ways that it materializes. In addition, the necessity to reformulate contextual interaction has been addressed by feminists who explain that some parts of society, have been obscured from language by simply underusing or devaluating their vocabulary, overtime denying the epistemic authority of these communities. As an active response to this reasoning, in Brazil, Singular Technologies have addressed technology both by developing unique networks, reorganising its functions, and through a differentiated formulation of key concepts, renaming them and the elements of the network.

Baobáxia is a digital network project rooted in specific concepts used by communities pertaining to Rede Mocambos: a network of Quilombos. Quilombos are communities of African seized people that resisted to Portuguese and European slavery and culture. The project sets its grounds by renaming all the elements composing a digital network: this renaming is essential to the structure of the project, it is based on a language that refers to the Quilombos organization, functioning as building blocks in the service of their resistance carried over the centuries. The project’s wiki serves as the main documentation tool hosting reports of numerous workshop events, technical meetings, reports, funding requests, etc. are conserved, including assembly minutes; one can read for example:

"Some of the conversation themes were the Principles and Reflections on the Mocambos Network - the conversations were oriented around the name Mocambos and the technology of the drum; the form of organization of the Quilombo dos Palmares was in Mocambos, so were their houses called. Another symbolic element, the Baobáb, was the center of the conversation round; the philosophy of the Baobá and the drum are central to the Mocambos Network: they are at the service of humanity, offer meaning to the world and strengthen a political commitment: never stop fighting." "Pajelança do dia 27 de maio e 3 de Junho de 2013 IV encontro da rede Mocambos"[5]

Felipe Fonseca, who was central to Metareciclagem, also proposed to rework language. He used the popular concept of "Gambiarra"(Fonseca, 2015), meaning "makeshift,", solving problems creatively in alternative ways with low cost and lots of spontaneity, or giving unusual functions to everyday life objects a creative popular terminology. Gambiarra is of course, creatively appropriating devices otherwise discarded by the mainstream products, an idea that was later grabbed in the upcycling movement. However, not only did "Gambiarra" meant repairing and enhancing objects and machines, but doing so thanks to collective effort, and the use of free software, invention and creativity. Here again the choice of the term "Gambiarra" is not random but corresponds to a valorization of popular Brazilian culture that creatively deals with material defections, therefore adds intimate and personal value to objects, and most importantly integrates this process in a social and community organisation.

As Hayles explores the impact of code on everyday life, she argues that it has become comparable to that of speech and writing: language and code have grown more entangled, the lines that once separated humans from machines, analog from digital, and old technologies from new ones have become blurred. While this can be seen as a colonization of everyday life led by major telecommunication companies, Singular Technologies engage in activating differently this space of knowledge. Language is a specific part of those many aspects, as well as other forms of cultural significance such as time place/localization, eventually forming a Third Technoscape. The projects we study here are built from the concepts of "situated knowers", every element comes from principles that are key to those who relate to the technologies, they also significantly rename concepts and tools, transforming the relation to technology in a community centered process, Singular Technologies. In this prospect, the claim raised by Fabi Borges, main researcher of the Technoshamanism (TCNXMN) network, who practices "Ancestrofuturismo" (Borges 2016), she explains that it consists in bridging the timeline from ancestral "knowledges" to actual technological practice. Fabi Borges presents shamanism as a technology of knowledge production based on ancestral models of communication. She argues that TCNXMN builds on these ancestral technologies of communication, and pairs them to contemporary digital technologies. In order to reach her purpose she looks for entropic interferences and noise that recombine to bring forth a "Shamanic Ontology" to technological production rather then as she calls it "Capitalist Ontology". She explains "it is entropic because it inhabits this paradoxical set of forces and maintains an improbable noise – its perpetual noisecracy, its state of disorganization and insecurity is continuous and is constantly recombining itself." (Borges, 2016) She brings this recombination of language to the larger scope of concepts, and ontologies, affirming a resistance across time and places, in a hybrid process that inhabits many spaces.

All 3 projects are active in decolonizing language, a process they run in parallel to decolonization of technology, the later is characterized by the use of free software and decentralized infrastructure, this analysis will be developed further. Both processes are complimentary, constitutive and intrinsic to the project, such a thorough process cannot be justified by the sole necessity to respond to a lack of infrastructure, or a specific situation of some isolated communities. On the contrary, these projects are born from an encompassing tentative to remodel technology from needs and "knowledges" of communities and they have developed unique hybrid infrastructures where social organization actively differs from existing organization of centralized networks. All three networks build Singular Technologies of resistance, creating space for a third Technoscape that is activated by these communities, through active organization, and structural support in the context of Puntos de Cultura. While the implementation of Puntos de cultura in Brazil has sometimes been criticized for bringing the "worst of the Internet" despite proposing computers installed with free software (Foster 2008), the approach that those three networks took is contrary, since they build from the needs emerging from their situation in the communities. Baobaxìa associates inhabitants and include local process of governance as documented in the reports available on the Baobaxìa wiki. As for Metarecliclagem, sets a situation where art and culture are constitutive of the development of the technology, this is for example advocated in video documentation presenting the creative and educational processes as a primary motivation, and motor for "Gambiarra"[6]. Felipe Fonseca, in a presentation from 2013 [7], emphasizes that some principles were set in collaboration with ministry of culture about principles such as, primacy of culture over technology, use of free software and open licences, easy accessibillity and active education.

In those projects, decolonization of language functions there as performative utterances, affirmative in their cannibalistic approach, they are speech acts (Austin, 1962). They embed a different relation to technology countering the fact that important specific concepts pertaining to the domain of communication are not represented, therefore rendered difficult to use in the contemporary technological domain, as significant areas of social experience are obscured from collective understanding of technology, such as ancestral indigenous conceptions of comunication, social organization and consciousness. In addition, the dialogue with feminist scientists such as Karen Barad, is almost immediatly established. Indeed, while all 3 projects value the relational understanding of communication presented in indigenous communities Tcnxsnm is particularly clear in stating as a ground fact that: Shamanism is a communication technology. Explaining Ancestrofuturismo, Fabi Borges says that indigenous "knowledges" have been riped out, she argues following Silvia Federici in her book Caliban and the Witch that "there has been a violent destruction of ancestral knowledge and technologies to leave space for science following monotheist principles."[8] By affirming Ancestrofuturismo, Fabi Borges formulates a diffracting relation (Barad 2007), in the sense that she brings the history of technology on other terrains, allowing for an intra-action modulating ancestrofuturistisc relations based on ancestral "knowledges" and contemporary technologies. Breaking the sense of continuity, (re)configuring the relation to space and time and developing other modalities; Ancestrofuturismo asks to rethink with and through dis-contuinity (Barad 2007). This approach diffracts across the spectrum of time and space, and therefore allows to reconfigure the scenes, from a large set of perspectives, read them through one another, and thread through one another. "Faced with this, techno + shamanism is an articulation which tries to consider this historical trauma, these lost yet not annihilated leftovers, and to recover (and reinvent) points of connection between technology and wasted ontologies," (Borges 2016)

All 3 networks are therefore primarily cultural processes based on a form of re-apropriation very true to the Brazilian principle of Canibalist Theory. Starting there endeavor from Language, all 3 networks activate different community organization and resistance models, producing diffracting and decentralized intra-actions. The 3 projects studied here, revise current concepts and organize technologies that can better serve resistances; reconfiguring their capacity through active use of ancestral language, and communication practices in dedicated decentralized networks. We will continue this analysis by understanding how this reconfiguration of the relation to technology translates also in the technological choices driving the development of those Singular technologies.


  1. Petites Singularités "Singular Technologies and the Third-Technoscape" JOPP (Journal of Peer production)#11 city, February 2018, http://peerproduction.net/editsuite/issues/issue-11-city/experimental-format/singular-technologies-the-third-technoscape/ ↩︎

  2. Oswald de Andrae, Manifesto Antropófago, Em Piratininga, Ano 374 da Deglutição do Bispo Sardinha, (Revista de Antropofagia, Ano I, No. I, maio de 1928.) http://www.ufrgs.br/cdrom/oandrade/oandrade.pdf ↩︎

  3. "Uma Rede de Servidores Locais - a roda de conversa com o tema Baobáxia na Rota dos Baobás" https://wiki.mocambos.net/index.php/NPDD/Baobáxia (last seen 07/02/2019) ↩︎

  4. "valorizar las iniciativas culturales de grupos y comunidades, ampliando el acceso a los medios de producción," source: http://www.brasildamudanca.com.br/es/cultura/puntos-de-cultura last checked March 8th 2019 ↩︎

  5. "Alguns dos temas das rodas de conversa foram os Princípios e Reflexões sobre a Rede Mocambos - neste momento as falas foram orientadas em torno do nome Mocambos e da tecnologia do tambor; a forma de organização do Quilombo dos Palmares era em Mocambos, assim chamavam suas moradias. Outro elemento simbólico, o Baobá, esteve no meio da roda; a filosofia do Baobá e do tambor são centrais na Rede Mocambos: estão a serviço da humanidade, oferecem sentido ao mundo e fortalecem um compromisso político: nunca mais deixar de lutar."Introduction to the Pajelança Quilombólica Digital, Territorios Digitais Livres - Materia da TVB - Record (Abril 2015) referenced on https://wiki.mocambos.net/index.php/NPDD/ Baobaxìa (last seen 27/02/2019) ↩︎

  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLZhWpskek4 (last seen 07/02/2019) ↩︎

  7. https://vimeo.com/16886067 (last seen 07/02/2019) ↩︎

  8. Source: Em Rede – http://www.em-rede.com/site/entrevista/fabiane-m-borges-tecnoxamanismo-como-meio-de-recuperar-e-reinventar-pontos-de-conexão (last seen 07/01/2019) ↩︎

0 Likes

#32

This is brilliant! Thanks, Natacha. Will try to return more in-depth tomorrow.

1 Like

#33

Amazing, thanks great to read you! I will post the second part of the text dealing with decentralisation and free software hopefully tonight or tomorrow.

1 Like

#34

Hi, It’s getting super nice, I’m still not sure how to edit the text, I could help to change some minor details

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#35

Ola @arianestolfi, you can select the part of the text you want to comment on, and click the “quote” button that appears: it will open in the editor with a reference to the text. E.g.:

I selected “I could help”, obviously :wink:

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#36

This is the second part of the text:

All three projects propose unique technologies based on decentralized models, decentralized software means that each instance of the software is hosted on a different server (each of them situated physically in a proxy or remote relation to the community or person(s) using the service), meaning that each hosting place, person or community organizes and determines the condition of usage of its instance of the software differently, sometimes formulating clear criteria, and governance. Moreover as Baobáxia and Metareciclagem, implement participatory management of servers in communities, all projects reassemble technologies, expose immense possibilities of underused technologies, transform the usage of standard tools, and eventually associate technological build up to a ritualized event. Those projects understand decentralization as a technological choice as a premise that is inclusive of a dedicated decisional process. As we have seen, they have made distinctive choices, forming new concepts in the light of ancestral and community organization, adapting existing technical possibilities inclusive of the ones discarded by tech monopolies. They have worked out a number of technological processes, that associate technical uniqueness to a specific cultural expression and active resistance. This follows different models of "Re-appropriation" (Fonseca 2016). We will analyze here the technical choices and their entanglement to historical modalities of resistance and community organization that are worked as a model of decision making . We will finally propose that the specific affirmations made by those networks towards fostering Singular technologies are a side step that opens the way to technological processes countering populist strategies.

Cultural coherence and infrastructure: decentralized technology a choice made for collective organization.

Decentralized computing can be simply defined as the allocation of resources, both hardware and software, to each location. However it has many implications, from the technical point of view, it is considered as a solution to existing problems caused by the accumulation of power in centralized monopolies, since it allows to moderate each implementation of the software locally, distributing the decisional capacity and the risks of failure and authoritarian control ; however, it is not a straightforward application, as many issues arise including access to the network, and existence of technical knowledge, we will address how the possibility of autonomy that resides in the technology is in fact activated by the community practices cultivated along centuries in networks of resistance such as Quilombolas.

While decentralization has been a major trend in the last few years, it is scarcely discussed as a possibility for a structural reorganization of decisional processes. Decentralized technologies should be associated to community organization, but sometimes they are blind to this possibility and by building on existing infrastructure and cloud services they do not actively think about ways to reconfigure existing distribution of power in technology. In this scope, the conversation needs to not only be technical, decentralized infrastructure must also imply a distributed system of decision making, and the distribution of according accountability and responsibility.

Decentralized computing, allows for a diversity of identities and models of governance to happen, therefore the it is necessary to clarify the modalities of a decentralized network organization that are characterized by technical features. A decentralized network needs a determined protocol to organize the communication between nodes, clarifying the modalities by which they exchange and make for a useful technology. Practically, the organization can happen along 2 major different type of protocols, peer to peer or federated that make for 2 different network architecture. A peer to peer system partitions tasks or workloads between peers, all nodes are equivalent, whereas in a federated system some nodes act as relays to other nodes.

Tcnxsnm Metareciclagem and Baobaxìa, all have experienced decentralization technologies in different modalities, decentralized servers, mesh networks, eventually connected networks, using both peer to peer and federated networks, always in consideration of relevant social organization and modalities of re-appropriation. Most importantly they have developed unique technologies such as the previously mentioned eventually connected network : Baobáxia. The software developed for Baobáxia is a social media based on Git; Git is a very important and otherwise widely used software, indispensable for developers to work together, as it permits to deal with version control in large software development projects. However, the usage that Baobáxia makes of Git as a basis for a social media software, is unique and very adapted to the context of the Quilombos, where access to network and electricity can be scarce. Using Git as a basis, permits that users locally upload media to the "mucuas" without needing connectivity, when they do have connection they can share it to the rest of the Baobáxia network, this is uniquely responding to the needs of remotely situated Quilombos.

In the Baobaxìa methodology/spirit, congruence between accurate physicality of the encounter and accurate construction of the digital archive and distributed social network is promoted throughout the whole process. This translates into the project being discussed during encounters/pajelança (rituals) that follow the models of governance and organization of the communities themselves, from the Baobaxìa archives stored on the wiki, we see that technical workshops were organized among other subjects and equally to them. The reports make describe as much the ritual then the technical processes, all participants are called by the name used and function within their community. The reports also describe specific ritual practices and important discussions about quilombolas identity and their relation to technical processes; for example:

"In the sacred presence of the Baobab, which represents our African roots, TC draws attention to the importance of spirituality and passes the word to Mother Beth of Oxum, of Olinda, to pass on the axé, the spiritual strength, the communication. She sang a song for Ossanha, accompanied by the drums. She remembered the importance of strength through the leaves, because we are around the Baobab. He also did a song for Oxum and Yemanjá."[1]

While the workshops were transmitting important technical knowledge about how to implement, use and maintain a Mucua, Baobáxia implementation also engaged Quilombolas in a reflection on how they understand their relation to communication and technology, in collaboration with local social centers, such as Casa Taiña, also part of Rede mocambos. The chosen model relates to the history of Quilombos; where preserving culture and organizing life has been done since centuries hiding away from the oppressor. Indeed, the relation to visibility and invisibility is crucial to the history of Quilombos, and this concern is well translated in the network infrastructure of Baobáxia, that permits to deal locally not only with the connectivity issues, but also allows for an autonomous platform to share information of value for the community away from mainstream exposure, keeping up with a century old resistance strategy.

Those encounters also focus on very important political issues such as sustainability where community sustainability and larger ecological issues are entangled and technology is envisioned in relation to both, making for important political discussions. In addition, care is taken to publish reports online in their integrality, including the many interventions of different nature; this demonstrates how the attention is put to build and deploy a technology that converges with all existing reflections in the comunity, being atuned not only with existing models of community organization, but also with political revendication and ll the reports archived on the wiki of the organisation would it be thinking of governance issues such as collective reflection on the space of the encounter, for example:

"During the conversations and openings of the days, the relationship between ancestry and technology was deepened in the perception of the appropriation of technology as one of the tools for the diffusion of quilombola and community contributions."[2]

Transformative practices and affirmative resistance are the contexts set here, characterized not only by the choice of cecentralising, the specific eventually connected network, but also as Baobaxìa sits at the fringes of mainstream technological model, freecycling its hardware components in Gambiarra and autonomizing its technology, organizing dedicated decision making processes through workshop happening in each of the 200 nodes of the network, defining its own network and proposing unique community produced media. However, complete autonomy does not exist and even less in technological domains or media practice, while the model situates itself in the context of occidental domination, it also exists in line with centuries of invisibleness and active resistance of the Quilombos, the millennial culture of indigenous people, and active resistance of other people involved, who despite minorization have maintained their voices and a strong and unique culture.

Metarecliclagem: Gambiarra and free-software.

Gambiarra has been advocated in the Metareciclagem network as an upcycling makeshift, that is also usually translated as Kludge or hack, but also deploys an antropophagic approach to the process by reclaiming the technological processes in a cultural environment [3] Although the term gambiarra is largely used and in several professional areas such as programming, electronics, cinema, theater, plastic arts, architecture, design,the gambiarra is often understood in a pejorative way. However Metareciclagem does mean it in this way, by reformulating the relation to the computer in favor of the less technologicaly proficient people. Gambiarra creates a space of familiarity with the object, when the precious technical object becomes smething made out of recycled parts creatively decorated, not only it loses its features of dominance and makes space for a creative use. and what Felipe Fonseca calls: “Hypertropical Programação”. In the same movement free-software is also approached as a liberation tool. Free Software is usually understood as “software that gives the users the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software .” [4] This implies 2 things, first that the source code is accessible under a copyleft licence, (individual freedom) and that the user is able or has access to someone who can understand the program(collective freedom) Thus, "free software” again is not only technical matter, but encompasses different issues of social and economical organization that have been addressed in the context of Metarecliclagem. Indeed the implementation of those computers happened in different local cultural and social centers and Puntos de Cultura, giving access to digital tools to a number of social structures, theater groups, musical studios, kids etc… The holistic approach of Metareciclagem, and “Hypertropical Programação” is inclusive and oriented towards fostering access and creative appropriation in the context of existing structures and supported by official programs.

Diffraction and resonances

Making for a very notable start, all 3 projects affirm claim to be networks "redes" rather then software or localized community projects, for example Fabi Borges explains: "Tcnxsm is a network, it does not develop specific projects but builds from existing projects, Baobaxìa is one of them. But Tcnxsm works many technologies, from radio to alternative electricity production, targeted towards autonomy; although considering autonomy as a pathway, a process that never really achieves since everything is always connected." By this positioning not only do they set the ground for a differential model of organization a Third Technoscape, but they also foster, the relation between network and cultural organization, allowing for technology to be transformed by cultural practice and become a transformative practice itself.

“Technoshamanism is neither the beginning nor the end, it is a medium.” Tcnxsnm is a space of articulation, a network.

Those networks put in question occidental civilization from its ontologies, however they situate themselves in the free culture movement and advocate a new domain in the free culture movement. Fabi Borges explains that she understands free culture not only as produced under a specific copyleft licence, but litterally as "liberated culture". This important aspect is the reason for this interdisciplinary network participating to a number of domains, an open platform that aggregates different "knowledges"and environments to produce resonances within actual capitalist society.

Conclusion:

Starting from taking back the future, and the intuition that a specific situation in Brazil at the beginning of the millennium has allowed for the development of Singular Technologies that emerge from the appropriation of technologies by communities of resistance, we observed a process that engages language and technology reconstruction, in coherence with existing creative or historical community organization. The 3 networks we chose to present Metareciclagem, TCNXSM and Baobáxia, address from different scopes and contexts technology as compounding to liberation and organize their networks in correspondance with the modalities of their research and their communities. Technology is understood in a broader scope then only digital(although it does include the latter), and the pathway they undertake leads to bridge practices and organizations in the prospect of allowing for the formation of a Third Technoscape.

Each project presented deploys its own understanding of technology, envisioning different type of functionalities, scopes of application, and relations, and they all associate the notion of freedom not only to freesoftware, but also to building technology that is of liberation. In this paper, we have developed different meanings of this assertion, from deploying constitutive language to Singular networks technologies that comply with the communities conditions, for example the lack of effective network connection, and resistance models. Furthermore the presented projects take a holistic approach, thinking historical relation to communication, epistemology and technology in relation to the new emergence of ICT. The networks have been thought from scratch as a tool allowing to serve resistances and their model of organization. This diffracting positioning permits to embrace the full scope of the technology situation from a history of domination, it the first necessary step to confront the destruction of cultural practices as they are fed into the productivist agenda.

Those projects need to be considered as unique models that present functional example of resistance communication strategies allowing for a diversity of expressions and social media organization, they include all aspects of the community models of governance in the technological organisation providing example of decentralized software that is developed and implemented to the service of minorised population and at their conditions.
However, it feels that despite the importance of those projects they are scarcely reported or studied, there has been across time an episodic relation to international academic environment with some scarce support for their researchers; but morover, despite the importance of the projects, and how much they managed to achieve with scarce support they are mostly invisibilized and considered minor. It is crucial to recognize the existence of decentralized networks hosted in different communities working together to compose free technology at the service of human creativity and historical resistance.

Bibliography

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Braidotti, Rosi. Bio-Power and Necro-Politics, Reflections on an ethics of sustainability https://www.springerin.at/en/2007/2/biomacht-und-nekro-politik/ Published as : (2007)‘Biomacht und nekro-Politik. Uberlegungen zu einer Ethik der Nachhaltigkeit’, in: Springerin, Hefte fur Gegenwartskunst, Band XIII Heft 2, Fruhjahr , pp 18-23

Fonseca, Felipe. Reconhecimento e superação da exploração capitalista em redes criativas de colaboração e produção Liinc em Revista, Rio de Janeiro, v.12, n.1, p. 25-39, maio 2016, http://www.ibict.br/liinc http://dx.doi.org/10.18617/liinc.v12i1.86125

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Toupin, Sophie & Spideralex (2018). “Radical Feminist Storytelling and Speculative Fiction: Creating new worlds by re-imagining hacking.” Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No. 13. 10.5399/uo/ada.2018.13.1

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  1. "Na presença sagrada do Baobá, que representa as nossas raízes africanas, TC chama a atenção para a importância da espiritualidade e passa a palavra à Mãe Beth de Oxum, de Olinda, para passar o axé, a força espiritual, a comunicação. Ela cantou um canto para Ossanha, acompanhada pelos tambores. Lembrou da importância da força pelas folhas, pois estamos ao redor do Baobá. Fez ainda um canto para Oxum e para Yemanjá." ↩︎

  2. "Durante as rodas de conversas e aberturas dos dias, a relação ancestralidade e tecnologia foi aprofundada na percepção da apropriação da tecnologia como uma das ferramentas para a difusão das contribuições quilombolas e comunitárias." ↩︎

  3. http://we-make-money-not-art.com/gambiologia/ ↩︎

  4. https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html ↩︎

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#37

I edited and published the article in a single post at Taking Back the Future -- A Short History of Singular Technologies in Brazil.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if @Baobaxia, @catadores, @efeefe, and @novaes would start discussing it? :slight_smile:

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