Legitimacy, Boundary Objects & Participation in Transnational DIYbiology

14th Participatory Design Conference 2016
Aarhus, Denmark
August 15th, 2016 to August 19th, 2016

Prior research has stipulated that DIY making appeals to many of the concerns central to participatory design: democratization of technology production, individual empowerment and inclusivity. In this paper, we take this stipulation as the starting point of our inquiry, exploring how it happened that making came to be seen as enabler of participatory values and practices. We draw from ethnographic research that followed a transnational collaboration between DIY biologists, scientists, makers, and artists from Indonesia, Europe and India. The paper focuses on the production of three artifacts, tracing their enactment as boundary objects and experimentation in DIY biology. The artifacts did not only help legitimize DIYbio, but also positioned Indonesia itself as a legitimate participant in international networks of knowledge production. The paper contributes to prior research that has challenged stable frames like West/the rest. It draws out a positionality for PD that opens up making by recognizing its multiplicity crucial to the making of alternative and never stable futures.