The Queerness of a Feminist Server: Building Resistance Communication Technologies

The Queerness of a Feminist Server: Building Resistance Communication Technologies

According to the Merriam Webster’s Dictionary a server is defined as “a computer in a network that is used to provide services (as access to files or shared peripherals or the routing of e-mail) to other computers in the network”. This technical and somewhat neutral definition tend to obscure the possibilities for understanding the political aspect behind the setting up and management of a server. Can a server, a node within a decentralised network, have a feminist queer posture? This was the question a group of feminist, queer and trans hackers asked themselves at the First Feminist Server Summit held in Brussels in December 2013 and at the TransHackFeminist convergence in August 2014.

In this upcoming article, I will investigate the reasons behind the importance of setting up a feminist server. The constellation of factors include: the increased interest by feminist, queer and trans hackers for a politically-oriented queer and feminist server, the desire to have a clear queer feminist posture to communication technologies including having control and autonomy over its structures and infrastructures, the necessity to respond to the relationship between online and offline violence towards LGBTQI (Cárdenas 2013) and, the censorship towards some of the practices and ideas embraced.

I will then attempt to decipher and analyse the meaning(s) of a feminist server that has been put forward by feminist, queer and trans hackers. This will be in an effort to locate their practices in queer (Butler 1990, 2004; Ferguson 2003; Muñoz 2009), feminist (Haraway 1988; Harding 1986, 2004) and technological frameworks (Coleman 2008, 2012; Kelty 2008; Winner 1988). In their words, a feminist server is a situated technology. It is run for and by a community that cares enough for her/they to exist. It builds on the materiality of software, hardware and the bodies gathered around it. It opens herself/themselves to expose processes, tools, sources, habits, patterns. It knows that networking is actually an awkward, promiscuous and parasitic practice. It is autonomous in the sense that she/they decide for her/they own dependencies. It treats technology as part of a social reality and finally, it takes the risk of exposing her/they insecurity while trying hard not to apologise when she/they sometimes is/are not available.

The article will aim at demonstrating that the queering of a feminist server is a political act, which rests on non-essentialist and non-universal principles. The queering of a feminist server, I will argue, is about hacking heteronormativity, patriarchy and capitalism while reclaiming independence and building autonomous infrastructures. It is also based on the breaking of boundaries between the theoretical production and the practice (Brown and Nash 2010) and it is aimed at opening up new imaginaries for understanding communication technologies and our relations to them. As one of the participants involved in this project both at the conceptual and technical level, I will follow and embody throughout this article a queer methodology (Brown and Nash 2010) and build on what Chiara Brambilla (2012) calls relational space between theory and activism.

Keywords: Hacker culture; Feminist server; Queer methodology; Communications technologies


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