bell hooks, Feminist Theory. From Margin to Center (1984, p. 33)

I often need to use words like decentralised, distributed and decentering to talk about the shape of collective intelligence and how people can be connected together and work together. And I want to get a hands on feel for what those terms really mean, what work they actually do, and what they could do.

There are classic network diagrams from the 1960s which pin down one way of understanding decentralized, distributed and centralized, and these diagrams have been adopted and remixed by Tecnopolítica researcher-activists today. However, in a contemporary political discussions shared through social media, I hear the term decentering used in another context with other roots back in time – intersectional work to decentre and decolonize knowledge, decentre whiteness, decentre power – the quote in the image above is from this zone, a classic text which works on the centering aspect of the decentering-centering axis.

Thinking about how the term decentralization (etc) exists today out there in the world today and the work it can do in my thesis, I’m exploring a dialogue between these different bodies of work: the Tecnopolítica researcher-activists who work closely with the idea of collective intelligence; and an ‘intersectional’ body of work with roots in writers such as bell hooks. Also using drawing and visualisations to keep thinking in a hands-on multi-dimensional way.

To be continued…

Note for expansion: the difference between (i) what a word nominally means and (ii) the work the word actually does. See: “Declarations of Whiteness: The Non-Performativity of Anti-Racism” by Sara Ahmed

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