Departmental Seminar -- Dr Brian Alleyne Title: Technological speculations and explorations in odd places, or, how to be a geek in the Global South

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Dr Brian Alleyne
University of London, Goldsmiths

Title: Technological speculations and explorations in odd places, or, how to be a geek in the Global South

Abstract: Except for industrialising Asia, the Global South is not generally associated with deep innovation in digital technologies: research recognises Southern innovation in terms of improvisation around affordance considering material derivation, but fundamental tech development is seen as happening in the North. In this talk I challenge this construction by exploring geek culture outside global North centred national silos and ethnocentric frameworks. I offer first the outline of a surprising narrative history of computing in the Caribbean, before discussing two cases. The first case is built around a thematic ‘distant reading' of speculative fiction written by authors identified with the English and Spanish Caribbean. The second case addresses efforts by geeks from Cuba and Trinidad-Tobago to enter the supposedly lucrative field of digital commodity production. Alongside the substantive presentation, I highlight several methodological issues around ‘fieldwork' that I had to confront because travel was impossible owing to the pandemic.

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