Autonomous Infrastructures As Feminist Hacker Practices: The Way Forward

Guided Dialogue FemHack 

FemHack has the pleasure to invite you to a guided dialogue and a brunch on Saturday, April 11, 2015 from 11 to 16h at (location TBD) Montreal. We are organising a budget-less and volunteer-run discussion at this very moment in an attempt to reach out to researchers and to the numerous feminist hackers visiting Montreal in mid-April for the PyCon (April 8-16) and Ada Camp (April 12-13).
Structure of the meeting
Brunch: 11h-12h (coffee, bagels, fruits and croissants will be served)
Dialogue: 12h-16h (with a short break around 14h)
The guided dialogues session will run as follow: 
12:00 – 12:10 Introduction to day
12:10 – 13:00 Exposés/Présentations (5 * 10 minutes)  
13:00 – 14:00 Conversation around the exposés/presentations
14:00 – 14:15 Break
14:15 – 14:25 Contextualising The Way Forward?
14:25 – 16:00 Discussion on the Way Forward
  
Assumptions and Rationale
The initial assumption with the theme of this gathering is that autonomous infrastructures represent a critical perspective to approaching feminist hacker/hacking practices. We refer to the terms hakcers/hacking with a full understanding of its histories and limitations. We understand autonomy as a desire for freedom, self-organisation and mutual aid, whereas the term infrastructures is understood in an expansive way meaning, but not limited to: code, software, hardware, design, space and social solidarities.
The second assumption is the recognition of the importance to connect the dots between the seemingly immaterial digital age and its material impact on the social, the labour, the environment, etc. For example: 
  • the extraction of resources such as rare minerals and metals, such as coltan, gold, copper, etc. to build our digital devices, 
  • the exploitative nature of labour (online communities as commodities, data mining by data empires, poor labour conditions in factories designing devices, etc.)
  • the new digital spirit of capitalism that lies behind highly controlled and secretive infrastructures (algorithmic governmentality, closed-source design of devices, mass surveillance); 
Background/ The origin of the idea 
For many years now, hackers have been involved in the development of infrastructures (often software) and have more recently started to develop “freer” hardware (such as 3D printers, fairphones, fair computers, mesh-networks, etc.). Some of these projects have embodied activist resistance stances while others have rather turned into commercial,  lucrative endeavours, been recuperated by capitalism or have become part of a “hobbying” ethos. With the emergence of a politicised feminist hacker/hacking movement, which is building feminist servers, feminist hackerspaces, feminist hacker convergences, etc. it appears essential to reflect on practices and theoritical frameworks that guide certain practices. Some of the questions that we would like to address include, but are not limited to: 
  •  To which extent autonomous infrastructures enable forms of resistance and/or separation from capitalist, patriarchal and racist system of values?
  •  How do autonomous infrastructures support/empower the self-valorisation of those who take part in such endeavours? 
  •  What kind of contradictions emerge from the creation of autonomous infrastructure?   
  •  What can we learn from case studies of feminist hacker and hacking practices ?
  •  Are autonomous infrastructure the way forward? 
 
We hope you can join us in this first guided dialogue, which will help us all better understand and conceptualise movements and practices that are starting to build from the ground up. We invite you to come prepared with a 5-10 min case study example, critical position, or any other kind of constructive intervention.
 
About FemHack
FemHack is an autonomous group from Montreal whose mission is to create an empowering and inspiring environment for politicized hackers of all genders who embrace feminist, queer and trans inflections.  FemHack is committed to creating a safe and responsive atmosphere for learning and discovery. We favour the participation of women, queer, people of color and of different generations, but we also welcome feminist men.

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