From Big Daddy Mainframe to Indigenous Blockchain: techno-politics, identities and spatialities in digital geographies

Authors: Clancy Wilmott*, University of California - Berkeley
Topics: Cultural Geography, Communication, Geographic Theory
Keywords: geography, digital, space, politics
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 37
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Critical and countercultural engagement with digital spatialities has been ongoing since the earliest inceptions of technoculture. From cyber- movements (cyberfeminist, cyberqueer, cyberpunk) to counter-technofuturist movements (including ‘afrofuturisms’, Asian futurisms, Indigenous or First Nations futurism and cosmologies), critical attention towards the political intersection between digitalities and bodies, identities and spaces has always been a facet of technological discourse and imagined futures. As society moves towards a thickening of digitalities in everyday life, new questions of identity and possibilities arise: for instance, First Nations blockchain (Rennie and Yunkaporta, 2018), Black twitter (Williams and Gonlin, 2016), NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism (Virtual Reality) (Hyphen-Labs, Baccus-Clark, et al. 2017), Indigenous Data Sovereignty (Kukutai and Taylor, 2016), Queer Video Games (Ruberg, 2019), feminist technofutures (Bassett, Kember and O’Riordan, 2019) to name a few. This paper considers the ways in which spaces and spatialities are formulated by these critical and countercultural identity movements, both historically through the rise of ‘cyberspace’ during the 1990s and early 2000s, as well as into contemporary and emerging works. As movements which are explicitly counter-hegemonic, countercultural engagements present lively refigurations of both what digitalities and technologies mean, and what it means to be digital or technological. These radical epistemological (and sometimes ontological) disjunctures from techno-progressive or techno-utopian constructions of identity, knowledge and spatiality offer alternate ways of thinking and doing digitally beyond pessimism, boosterism or post/modernity. Through these writings, projects, artworks and exhibitions, this paper, finally maps a re-encounter with digital technologies from a careful but critical position of political hope and possibility.

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