Reviewed by: AAA Executive Program Committee
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students, Those Involved in Mentoring Activities
Primary Theme: Technology
Secondary Theme: Teaching
Within maker and hacker cultures, workshops and informal skill-shares are a way to share knowledge, expertise, practices, and often help to build a sense of community. They also become a way in which to solidify ‘best’ practices and the expected ways in which to build Do It Yourself (DIY) technologies and prototypes. But what kind of knowledge might be produced when leading workshops that problematize or unpack the types of skills shared, how they are shared, who is involved, and what is considered ‘best’ practice and why? In a more humanistic sense, such an endeavor might enable an exploration of subjectivity, identify-formation, and the communities of practice that are fostered (as well as those are marginalized or erased) by DIY tech-based cultures.
By using the workshop as a form of inquiry, my research aims to develop experimental methods that allow analysis of dialogue which is opened during material praxis. Precursors and continuing influential figures for these actions include practitioners of critical making, reflexive design, and critical technical practice. In the doing of this work, I have also encountered new instantiations such as Max Liboiron’s work, which asks participants to explore the politics embedded in scientific research technologies through intentional design. As an extension of research that first characterized communities attempting to establish alternative practices apart from dominant maker and hacker discourse, this installation employs participatory research, made objects, and visual anthropology to explore the design and outcome of workshops which examine local community contexts, definitions of technologies, skills, and values.