Accepted Paper:

More than one way to solder a circuit: The politics of skill-sharing  


Ellen Foster (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

Paper short abstract:

There is more than one way to solder a circuit, and in turn to teach technological engagements. this presentation invokes critical pedagogy, Haraway’s “situated knowledges” (1991), and Harding’s “standpoint epistemologies” (1993) to rethink maker skill-sharing endeavors.

Paper long abstract:

Recognizing that there is more than one way to teach soldering and circuitry (with or without flux, or even with conductive ink, conductive thread, and copper tape), this presentation invokes Haraway's "situated knowledges" (1991) and Harding's "standpoint epistemologies" (1993) to rethink simple skill-sharing endeavors in hackerspaces and makerspaces. It will explore ways in which the oft overlooked practice of skill-sharing in maker, hacker, and fixer communities harbors politics, having impact on who feels welcomed, involved, and "empowered" in workshops and in communities of practice.

Calling into question the constructivist attitude that learning-by-doing is the key to success for each and every student, this research hopes to explicate the ways in which technology and the technical are often presumed positive and a-political in these contexts. It queries, how do particular discourses and unquestioning acceptance of ways in which to enact technological knowledge impact students and their views of the world? In turn, how do these discourses and non-critical mindsets affect the type of technologies created and knowledges highlighted? Pulling from feminist and critical pedagogy scholarship (hooks 1994; Boler 1998), this research further examines alternative ways in which to enact skills that do critique the knowledge imparted -- how it is used, how it might be used differently along lines of gender/race/class, and how it manifests politics.

Using research that engages both traditional interviews and participant observations, as well as experimental methods critically engaging the act of work-shopping, the presentation of this research will be multi-modal and experimental.

Panel T100
Feminist Technoscience Studies in Unexpected Places: (Intra)Activism and Social Justice