Taking Back the Future: A Short History of Singular Technologies in Brazil.

Roussel, Natacha; Stolfi, Ariane
Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience

In this article we discuss unique free software-based digital infrastructures and networks that were developed in Brazilian communities, presenting situated models of resistance. We will discuss the background of the networks and characterize their practice and infrastructure, that are largely under-studied. The analysis we pursue highlights the importance of minorized decentralized technological practices that convey integral organizational models opposing capitalist hegemony. In order to describe the intersection of these alternatives in the Brazilian context, we will mobilize a feminist epistemology which considers necessary principles of “intra-action” (Barad 2007) across heterogeneous sociotechnical spaces.
We will describe how different projects intersect, among them: Baobáxia, “a rota os Baobas” an eventually connected network, that can exist both on the larger internet and disconected from it, as a local local network, which nodes are located in quilombolas communities; “Metareciclagem”a collective of Brazilian technologists promoting the “up-cycling” of discarded computing technologies and their usage for artistic expression through “Gambiarra” (“makeshift”) re-appropriations; and another political articulation of the reflection about the appropriation of digital technologies that has given rise to an international network and practices which are identified by activists and artists as “Technoshamanism.”
The role and place of digital activism in the Brazilian context is uniquely tied to specific needs of the communities at a moment in time. This led to unique examples of construction of what we have called “singular technologies”, we mean: "intentional and contextual technologies, developed specifically by a community to respond to their specific context." In Brazil, they emerge from a decolonial position and cultural narrative re-appropriation, supported by a benevolent policy. This brings us in the conclusion to qualify the construction of singular technologies that stem from the need to characterize daily practice by citizen groups that deploy their successful institutional arrangements and affordances under the radar and outside the competency of traditional institutions. These concepts do not try to define any tangible essence, but rather articulate social dynamics of the studied groups. We will qualify these social dynamics as the unique relation that technological processes emerge from.