Annual Meeting of the European Association for Science and Technology Studies and the Society for Social Studies of Science
August 31st, 2016 to September 3rd, 2016
Previously entitled: Aspirations Here/Elsewhere: Alternative World-Making for Hackers and DIYbiologists
DIYbiology (Do-it-yourself biology) and hacking are uniquely positioned as sites of political action and democratized knowledge production open to contestation and negotiation. From the utopian entrepreneurial pursuits of economic reformation to the critical reworking of scientific education, this paper documents my year-long ethnographic research on DIYbiology and hacker cultures in three different cities in Indonesia. In this paper, I investigate how DIYbiology and hacker cultures unfold in relation to regional scientific and technological production in Indonesia. In doing so, I undertake the project of looking at "gaps" (Tsing 2005) by interrogating the limits of dominant ideologies related to hacking and making in marginal sites of innovation.
Calling into question how hackers and DIYbiologists participate in alterative world-making projects, I demonstrate how maker and hacker cultures are not only shaped by and shape past and contemporary regional knowledge production processes but also serve as emergent sites of aspirations and future-making in Indonesia. These aspirations and ambitions however, exist in a highly uneven and patchy terrain, revealing contradictions which rupture any continuous cultural imaginary of making and hacking across disparate sites.
This paper builds on a growing body of STS scholarship which recognizes the culturally embedded practices of making, hacking and design in non-western contexts and how innovation exist beyond dominant spaces of technological innovation and digital labour (Lindtner 2015; Irani 2015; Barker 2015). In doing so, this paper extends work studying peripheral modes of grassroots technoscientific innovation that challenge analytical frames such as west/east and developed/developing.
14th Participatory Design Conference 2016
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.
The global emergence of grassroots community spaces such as makerspaces, hackerspaces, citizen science initiatives and do-it-yourself (DIY) biology laboratories offer unique perspectives on cross-disciplinary knowledge exchanges across laypersons and experts and alternative cultures of technological production and design. Prior research has shown how practitioners in these sites, notably from the Global South, challenge how and where knowledge is located, produced, and legitimized (Lindtner et al., 2016, 2015; Kera, 2014, 2012). In this paper, I discuss how contemporary hacker and DIYbio cultures in Indonesia present both new sites of political action and interdisciplinary knowledge production. In particular, I demonstrate how DIYbio serves as a site to intervene into long-standing relations regarding knowledge production and distribution between scientific elite circles and civil society. I draw from a year of ethnographic research in Yogayakarta, Indonesia focused on the transnational collaborations between a citizen science initiative, Lifepatch, and hackers, artists and scientists from Europe and India. Specifically, I focus on the production and distribution of a fermentation yeast kit and a DIY synthesizer, following their materializations and transformations in and outside of Indonesia. These scientific and technological objects illustrate how DIYbiology is an important contemporary cultural site to understand how transnational processes of knowledge production unfold and exist beyond the frames of local and global, consumer and producer, innovation and copycat. In this paper, I bring into conversation Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Southeast Asian Studies, as an entry point to discuss two things. Firstly, I seek to recognize how Indonesian DIYbiologists’ technoscience work and creative productions navigate between the globalized work of hacking and making and the national cultural contexts they operate in. Second, it aims to build on scholarly work which recognize how particular forms of innovation come into being in so-called “third-world” countries. In doing so, I argue that the scientific and technological work of Lifepatch not only rework previous structures of knowledge production and flows between lay persons and experts, but also between scales of locality and globality. My work builds on a growing body of scholarship that studies culturally embedded practices of making and hacking in the Global South (Avle & Lindtner, 2016; Lindtner, 2015; Lindtner et al., 2015) and how the ‘digital’ play out in peripheral sites of innovation (Chan, 2014). It also contributes to existing work on Indonesia which focuses on grassroots technological and scientific cultures and how they decenter where and how knowledge is being produced (Barker, 2015; Tsing, 2005).