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2022-2023 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to present

Hacker Tours, Trajectories and Circuits

Source: hackerspaces.org (Hackerspace Global Map)

Luis Felipe R. Murillo
Assistant Professor, Anthropology
University of Notre Dame

Monday, October 17, 4PM-6PM PST

Hybrid Presentation
In Person: Faculty Staff Lounge, 2nd Floor
219 Anthropology and Art Practice [Kroeber] Bldg.
University of California, Berkeley, Campus

Also hosted on Zoom [join here]
*no password needed

“Hacking” has been at the forefront of contemporary debates about the present and future governance of digital systems. Depicted ambiguously as a “criminal” and “virtuous” practice, the moral valence of computer hacking has oscillated constantly from 1960s to the present. In this presentation I discuss one of the key but understudied aspects of the practice: its spatialization through the creation of a global network of autonomous community spaces called “hackerspaces” for informal training in computing. Based on the ethnographic study of “hacker tours,” I describe how the circulation of technologists created conditions for the internationalization of hacking. More than the cross-cultural experience of a professional “hackercon” (hacker conference), I argue, hacker tours have been organized to facilitate technical and political exchange at transnational scales. In order to describe the role of hacker tours for the moral cultivation of computer technologists, I will focus on experiences of travel from Euroamerican hackerspaces to mainland China for the purposes of exchanging “open technologies” as gifts. For the conclusion, I will discuss the broader technopolitical implication of tours, trajectories, and circuits for the alterglobalization of computing expertise.

Luis Felipe R. Murillo is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at University of Notre Dame, where he also serves as a fellow of the ND Technology Ethics Center and the Lucy Center for Data and Society. His work has been dedicated to the anthropological study of the politics of digital technology with a focus on the design and implementation of “open technologies” for addressing social and environmental issues. He has conducted long-term field research in the context of computer expert communities, open technology projects, and, more recently, in the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to examine the promises and challenges of creating a commons in science and technology.

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