Centres, Margins, Distributions

Excerpt from Preface to 1984 Edition of bell hooks’ Feminist Theory. From Margin to Center.
Paul Baran’s network typologies from “On Distributed Communications”, a document prepared for the
United States Air Force Project Rand (1964).

Baran’s network typologies from the early days of computing (1964) are still referenced by Tecnopolitica researcher-activists at the forefront of social transformation today (see diagram below). Decentralized and distributed networks, politics and technologies are at the heart of Tecnopolitical practices, however their politics are far removed from Baran’s context of US Air Force funded research. Politically, Tecnopolitica would have more in common with the trajectory of bell hooks whose framework: emphasises ‘the centre’ (contrasted with the margin); suggests ‘the decentering of the West globally’ and a focus instead on ‘attention on the issue of voice. Who speaks? Who listens? And why?’ (p. 40, 1994); and continues to be a reference point today for people arguing for ‘decentering and decolonising knowledge’ (Moreno Figueroa, 2019).

However, the substance and vibe of the hooks’ text sends very different messages to these stylised network visualisations (above and below)….

Centres, Margins, Distributions

Inner life: centering + decentering

My inner life experience of both centering and decentering power… also noting outer world references in orbit.
Pencil drawing on paper, then colour inverted in Photoshop (July 2020).

Pushing myself to write more whilst the moment is here, but writing honestly and meaningfully requires getting through a lot of barriers and it feels like there is a lot of inner resistance right now. Resistance or just tiredness..? So hard to say… but at this stage, just trying to keep things moving, putting one word in front of another. Following on from my last post about Decentering Power, I wanted to share this drawing of my own experience of decentering dynamics (particularly given my recent experience of double caring during lockdown). With the outer world references in orbit.

Inner life: centering + decentering

Decentering Power, Whiteness, Knowledge, Ableism, Class, Gender, ETC.

Based on Baran’s visualisation of Decentralized, Distributed and Centralized networks (1964, p. 2)

I’m doing some research and creative thinking about how we reconfigure power, for real. In a way that really transforms lives, experiences and relationships. Using visual and sensory devices to keep with the material experience and achievement of change. One strategy is to think through the sticky points and divergences between two transformative projects challenging the centre and the centralised: the Tecnopolitica body of work; and a set of decentering power projects with a strong focus on decentering knowledge and whiteness.

Decentering Power, Whiteness, Knowledge, Ableism, Class, Gender, ETC.

Donna Haraway’s Vision

from Haraway’s 1998 article ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’

Donna Haraway’s treatment of ‘Vision’ in her 1988 Situated Knowledge text is extremely helpful for my work, as it explores Vision in a political and epistemological context, giving a switched on academic framing to my use of (audo)visual research techniques. Haraway uses Vision as a metaphor to unpack ways of seeing, knowing and positioning.

She criticises the all-seeing Eye of the God-trick (the conquering gaze from nowhere that represents and marks bodies, while itself remaining unrepresented and unseen).

She advocates for embodied situated Vision that recognises and deconstructs it’s own positionality, specificity, difference, technologies and prosthetics for seeing; in the process making itself accountable, responsible, answerable.

She problematises ‘Seeing from Below’ and the vantage points of the subjugated:

Donna Haraway’s Vision