Taking Back the Future -- A Short History of Singular Technologies in Brazil


This article will discuss unique free software-based digital infrastructures and networks that were developed in Brazilian communities, presenting situated models of resistance. We will provide the background of the networks and characterize their unique discourse because, with their infrastructure, it is largely under-studied. The understanding of the decentralized technological setup of these apparatuses benefit to a broader understanding of intersectional and decolonial studies. The analysis we pursue highlights the importance of minorized technological practice that convey integral organizational models opposing capitalist hegemony. In order to frame our research problem, we will mobilize a feminist epistemology which considers necessary principles of “intra-action” (Barad 2007) across heterogeneous sociotechnical spaces.

Then, we will proceed to explore intersections between the different projects, such as: Baobáxia, “a rota os Baobas” a network which nodes are located in quilombolas communities; “Metareciclagem” where a group of Brazilian technologists and artists have been promoting the “up-cycling” of discarded computing technologies and their usage for artistic expression through “Gambiarra” (“makeshift”) ; and another political articulation of the reflection about the appropriation of digital technologies that has given rise to an international network and practices which are identified by activists and artists as “Technoshamanism.”

The role and place of digital activism in the Brazilian context is uniquely tied to specific needs of the communities at a moment in time. This led to unique examples of construction of what we have called “singular technologies”, we mean: "intentional and contextual technologies, developed specifically by a community to respond to their specific context." [1] In Brazil, they emerge from a decolonial position and cultural narrative re-appropriation, supported by a benevolent policy. The concept of singular technologies stem from the need to characterize daily practice by citizen groups that deploy their successful institutional arrangements and affordances under the radar and outside the competency of traditional institutions. Both concepts do not try to define any tangible essence, but rather articulate social dynamics of the studied groups. We qualify these social dynamics as the unique relation that technological processes emerge from.

Intro: Take Back the Future

“Take back the future” is the keyword that popped up while reading different documents and communications coming from the very active independent Brazilian networks. Singular technologies, as they multiply across the world, exist most coherently in decentralized technological infrastructures, but those are diverse, they develop along different paths, their hybridization with a community or a place settles a space of resistance, another relation technology. The uniqueness of those Brazilian projects reside in their alliance with communities, their re-appropriation of technological practice in a hybrid transdisciplinary methodology at a determined moment of Brazil’s politics.

It appears that the dominant centralized corporate technological model deploys a monopolistic power over our communication infrastructure, resulting in the argument of scale often opposed to existing decentralized free software and independent projects, arguing they cannot face the competition of “Internet giants”. However, in this article we will approach this issue from a different perspective addressing how singular technologies converge with community organization creating a unique terrain for identity construction, resistance, expression, and solidarity, that contrasts with the dominant perspective. Working from a necessary distance, this research is fed by some direct implication of one of the authors in those networks, and a long term relation of the other through independent international online communication, and the cross-reading of the archives hosted on different online platforms, mostly wikis, along with feminist theory.

From a feminist perspective these initiatives address the necessary engagement with context and express consideration given to the tool. A feminist epistemology considers necessary principles of intra-action (Barad) looking for apparatuses that are conceived in situation opening ways to understanding phenomena emerging from their agents.

This analysis will approach important, although minorized free software projects in Brazil, and work to understand the horizontal and emerging spaces they have helped to build. The research will focus on seizing a specific discourse of digital activism in the Brazilian context, enlightening how in their association emerges from an anti-colonial position and cultural narrative re-appropriation. In the light of the historical Manifesto Antropófago[2], we will consider their anthropophagist organization, absorbing Western practices in computer networks and technologies and regurgitating them with a transformed discourse to the use of oppressed Brazilian groups. They created, for example, infrastructure for Afrobrazilian communities. This research will focus on 3 projects: Metareciclagem, Baobáxia, Technoshamanism (TCNXMNSM). Those 3 projects expand in time from the beginning of the 2000’s to actual Brazil, they were especially dynamic during the first decade of the century as there was explicit government support to independent communication systems. The support of the Brazilian government came because of the lively Brazilian free software scene, who has already organized the first International Free Software forum, during the World Social Forum (in 2000 in Porto Alegre). This dynamism of a number of projects and grassroots communities led to the funding of the program ‘Cultura Viva’ by the federal government.

3 intertwined independent networks, free culture, and community organization

The movement has started at the beginning of the 2000, a little bit before Lula’s presidency where he appointed Gilberto Gil, an major participant to the Tropicalism movement (an important critical cultural movement of the 60’s in Brazil), as minister of culture. At this moment in time, worldwide, there was a desire to “bridge the digital gap” and bring connectivity “everywhere”; in Brazil, the size of the territory, the number of different communities, the importance and the isolation of many specific “knowledges”, and as said before the important free software scene, made for a very unique terrain to develop connectivity. In the supportive political context, free software was promoted in the context of the "Puntos de Cultura " aiming to “: public initiatives in remote areas that offer network access and general information to communities about digital practice, promoting a larger access to cultural initiatives from groups and communities and augmenting access to means of production”[3]. Involved among other activists groups in this challenging movement, Metareciclagem and Baobáxia contributed to the program with, among others, Casa de Cultura Tainã (“way of the stars” in Tupi-Guarani), a cultural center in an impoverished neighborhood of Campinas. We will present the unique technologies they developed and organized all over the country. We will be looking at the organizational choices they made, and consider their position as one of resistance, acknowledging that the systemic support they received while being crucial to their existence, can be considered negligible compare to the one received by major companies who established new capital accumulation strategies for the capitalist Internet economy (Fuchs 2015). We hope this argument be a pledge for the capacity of grassroots initiatives, when they receive adequate support.

Baobáxia; Rooting technologies

Baobáxia is a digital network project rooted in specific concepts used by communities pertaining to a network of quilombos. Quilombos are communities of African seized people that resisted to Portuguese and European slavery and culture, those hidden settlements have been existing in continuity since the 16th century, when the Quilombo dos Palmares resisted. Since the end on the 1990 quilombos have undergone a redefinition, “Through the political pressure exerted by black peasants throughout Brazil, the government established explicitly that quilombos should be defined by their being communities formed by black peasants in general, part of the present agrarian structure and contemporary society, not only by their relation to the past as runaway-descendants.”[4] This right was recognized under the governance of President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, and is put at risk under current government. The Baobáxia network is supported by Rede Mocambos, a term that refers to precarious houses that might serve as hideouts in the middle of the woods, such as quilombolas houses. This is a way to refer to these communities, and also a relation with the idea of a certain level of precarity, that the group is working with. Baobáxia has implemented with Rede Mocambos servers, a Rota dos Baobás (“the route of baobabs”) in Afrobrazilian communities: quilombos all over the country. Baobáxia is well documented on an online wiki archive that serves as the main documentation source for this article, in addition to our direct experience of the project in Brazil and in Europe more recently. The wiki is also used as an open organizational tool for the community: hosting reports of numerous workshop events, technical meetings, funding requests, assembly minutes, etc.; major documentation of the community organization is stored there. Baobáxia presents itself as: “A Network of Local Servers - the conversation wheel with the theme Baobáxia, the Route of Baobabs.”[5] Baobáxia allows the communities to share their media and information independently. Each implementation of a Mucua (server node in the network named after the fruit of the baobab) is dedicated to a community and assorted to a community-oriented workshop, presenting and sharing the technology and reflecting on its nature and its purpose through specific cultural practices. The decision of the implementation and its maintenance integrates traditional community organization, and is discussed along their concerns following their governance model. On the project’s wiki one can read for example:

"Some of the conversation themes were the Principles and Reflections on the Mocambos Network - the conversations were oriented around the name Mocambos and the technology of the drum; the form of organization of the Quilombo dos Palmares was in Mocambos, so were their houses called. Another symbolic element, the Baobáb, was the center of the conversation round; the philosophy of the Baobá and the drum are central to the Mocambos Network: they are at the service of humanity, offer meaning to the world and strengthen a political commitment: never stop fighting."
"Pajelança do dia 27 de maio e 3 de Junho de 2013 IV encontro da rede Mocambos"[6]

Metarecliclagem: Gambiarra and free software

Metareciclagem network was active mostly between 2002 and 2012, it is one of the most important free software projects in Brazil, central to the governmental project of ‘Puntos de Cultura’, and was also linked to the protest movement ‘lixo electrônico’. Metareciclagem has organized the creative up-cycling and reuse of discarded computers to the benefit of a number of citizen groups, promoting not only free software but mostly creative appropriation of electronics as "Gambiarra&quot and “HiperTropicalProgramação”.; (Fonseca, 2015). Metareciclagem was a multiple entity movement included in the larger “Cultura Viva” government program, such a great dynamic has been permitted by the hard work of many people and activists, only some of them will be referenced here. Metareciclagem’s history and participants are very difficult to retrace, mainly because the main archive of the project that was fed onto the project community wiki is not online anymore, and there is only a partial copy available in the Internet Archive – more extensive research would be needed to federate all existing archive, and reconstitute the original information. In the prospect of this article, we will mainly acknowledge the importance of the project, its extended and long lasting implementations all over the country, and its unique methodology, that we will relate to the feminist approach of, for example, N.K. Hayles. As Daniel Pádua presents it: “Metareciclagem is a methodology, a free knowledge project network, a universal access movement, a massive game and could be also a band. :slight_smile: It’s all about sharing knowledge for autonomous/communitary reality replication/transformation.” In the same movement free software is also approached as a liberation tool. Free software is a terminology adopted in the early 1980, that is usually understood as “software that gives the users the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software .” [7] This implies two things: first that the source code is accessible (often under a copyleft license), (individual freedom) and that the user is able or has access to someone who can understand the program (collective freedom). Thus, "free software” again is not only technical matter, but encompasses different issues of social and economical organization that have been addressed in the context of Metarecliclagem. Therefore free software distinguishes itself from the simple technical aspect and encompasses cultural and political positioning. Metarecliclagem implemented computers in different local cultural and social centers and “Puntos de Cultura”, giving access to digital tools to a number of social structures, theater groups, musical studios, kids, etc… The holistic approach of Metareciclagem, and “Hypertropical Programação” is inclusive and oriented towards fostering access and creative appropriation in the context of existing structures supported by official programs.

Tecnoxamanismo (TCNXMNSM)

TCNXMNSM positions itself in resistance, it is dystopian and pessimistic, yet entropic as it resonates creating noise in this dystopian future, aiming at taking back the future. TCNXMNSM network builds from existing projects targeted towards autonomy but considering autonomy as a pathway, a process that never really completes, since everything is always connected. “Technoshamanism is neither the beginning nor the end, it is a medium.” TCNXMNSM is a space of articulation, a network (Borges 2017). Also TCNXMNSM pushes further appropriation practices by developing a clinic, entering the sphere of healing and addressing notion of subjectivity, creating an immersive process for mental health and conviviality. Fabi Borges explains that this process is also relevant to the free culture practice, in the sense that it federates a collective process in the formulation of communication models aiming at subjective reconfiguration. In this prospect TCNXMNSM organizes rituals liberating “networks of unconscious, with the free cosmologies and free cosmogonies, with the communities of the specters (or entities that we have constituted to help us make new mythologies – or DIY mythologies – an imaginary recycling).” This is central to TCNXMNSM who enters the practice of technology by integrating communication practices from other spheres of knowledge, including dream.[8] This reappropriation process liberates subjectivities trapped in “capitalist ontologies” as it fosters “shamanic ontologies” that make accessible other modalities of being together, activated by artistic practices. In addition their propositions aim at productions, performance, audiovisual, cinema, installation, etc. TCNXMNSM is the network with the most international connections, that claims its international existence by performances happening during a variety of artistic events in Europe, were some members are living. In Brazil TCNXMNSM is working in relation with the Pataxó community, an Tupi Guarani community settled in Bahia.

All three projects are related, as they are intertwined to a specific moment of Brazilian history where support was given to free software and multidimensional cultural projects. While they expand on a timeline from the end of the 90’s (beginning of Metareciclagem) to today (TCNXMNSM performances), they all continue despite the difficulties provoked by actual political conditions in Brazil.

Diffraction and resonances

Making for a very notable start, all 3 projects claim to be networks "redes" rather than software or localized community projects, for example Fabi Borges explains: " Tcnxmnsm is a network, it does not develop specific projects but builds from existing projects, Baobáxia is one of them. But TCNXMNSM works many technologies, from radio to alternative electricity production, targeted towards autonomy; although considering autonomy as a pathway, a process that never really achieves since everything is always connected." By this positioning not only do they set the ground for a differential model of organization, but they also foster the relation between network and cultural organization, allowing for technology to be transformed by cultural practice and become a transformative practice itself. “Technoshamanism is neither the beginning nor the end, it is a medium.” TCNXMNSM is a space of articulation, a network.[9]

Those networks put in question occidental civilization from its ontologies, while situating themselves within the free culture movement, understanding free culture not only as produced under a specific copyleft licence, but literally as liberated culture. This important aspect is the reason for this interdisciplinary network that aggregates different "knowledges" and environments to produce resonances within actual capitalist society.

These projects develop in a culture of resistance manifesting itself through language, cultural appropriation, spiritual quest and a necessity for independent infrastructure. We will observe how they successfully put in practice taking back the future by "rooting technology" a double-entendre: first, “rooting” as in growing roots, with reference to locality ; then, “rooting” as the hacker jargon for gaining privileged access (superuser, or root) to a system, here: re-appropriating technology production, and acknowledging ancient history. Within the scope of these projects, this implies several levels of action. Our analysis will take a cross-look at all three projects from two specific angles:

Firstly, we will emphasize their strategy of appropriating technology through a dedicated language for their technologies and technological practice. Baobáxia, TCNXMNSM, and Metareciclagem each have developed a language they deem more appropriate because it fits better their "knowledges" and conception of communication. This important appropriation can be understood as a process of absorption allowing for different models of expression in the digital space.

Further on we will examine how they build coherence and intra-action in the technology, it is the essential meaning of taking back the future. Associating contemporary technology to ancestral "knowledges" results in the development of specific decentralized infrastructure, from dedicated free software.

Language as a process of absorption

Singular technologies such as the ones presented here share modalities that differ both in their organization and coding language. As N.K. Hayles has framed it: "Language alone is no longer the distinctive characteristic of technologically developed societies; rather it is language plus code" (Hayles 2010), she calls this: regimes of computation. Therefore, she claims, language analysis and critique needs to embed technology in the different ways that it materializes. In addition, the necessity to reformulate contextual interaction has been addressed by feminists who explain that some parts of society, have been obscured from language by simply underusing or devaluating their vocabulary, denying over time the epistemic authority of these communities. As a response to this reasoning, in Brazil, Singular Technologies have addressed technology both by developing unique networks, reorganizing its functions, and through a differentiated formulation of key concepts, renaming them and the elements of the network.

As Hayles explores the impact of code on everyday life, she argues that it has become comparable to that of speech and writing: language and code have grown more entangled, the lines that once separated humans from machines, analog from digital, and old technologies from new ones have become blurred. While this can be seen as a colonization of everyday life led by major telecommunication companies, Singular Technologies engage in activating differently this space of knowledge. Language is a specific part of those many aspects, as well as other forms of cultural significance such as time place/localization. The projects we study here are built from the concepts of "situated knowers", every element comes from principles that are key to those who relate to the technologies, they also significantly rename concepts and tools, transforming the relation to technology in a community-centered process, Singular Technologies. In this prospect, Fabi Borges practices "Ancestrofuturismo" (Borges 2016): she explains that it consists in bridging the timeline from ancestral "knowledges" to actual technological practice. Fabi Borges presents shamanism as a technology of knowledge production based on ancestral models of communication. She argues that TCNXMNSM builds on these ancestral technologies of communication and pairs them to contemporary digital technologies. In order to reach her purpose she looks for entropic interference and noise that recombine to bring forth a "Shamanic Ontology" to technological production rather than, as she calls it, a "Capitalist Ontology". She explains "it is entropic because it inhabits this paradoxical set of forces and maintains an improbable noise – its perpetual noisecracy, its state of disorganization and insecurity is continuous and is constantly recombining itself." (Borges, 2016) She brings this recombination of language to the larger scope of concepts, and ontologies, affirming a resistance across time and places, in a hybrid process that inhabits many spaces.

All 3 projects are active in decolonizing language, an action they run in parallel to decolonization of technology which is characterized by the use of free software and decentralized infrastructure, this analysis will be developed further. Both actions are complementary, constitutive and intrinsic to the project, such a thorough endeavor cannot be justified by the sole necessity to respond to a lack of infrastructure, or a specific situation of some isolated communities. On the contrary, these projects are born from an encompassing tentative to remodel technology from needs and “knowledges” of communities and they have developed unique hybrid infrastructures where social organization differs from existing organization of centralized networks. All three networks build Singular Technologies of resistance, activated by these communities, both through autonomous organization, and structural support. As mentioned above Baobáxia’s developers have taken great care in renaming all the elements of the technical infrastructure composing a digital network, this renaming is essential to the structure of the project, it is based on a language that refers to the organization of Quilombos. Those words, baobab, mucua, tambor, etc. function as building blocks in the service of their resistance carried over centuries. While the implementation of Puntos da Cultura in Brazil has sometimes been criticized for bringing the “worst of the Internet” despite proposing computers installed with free software (Foster 2008), the approach that those three networks took is contrary, since they build from the needs emerging from their situation in the communities. Baobáxia associates inhabitants and includes local processes of governance as documented in the reports available on the Baobáxia wiki. As for Metarecliclagem, it sets a situation where art and culture are constitutive of the development of the technology, this is for example advocated in video documentation presenting the creative and educational processes as a primary motivation, and motor for “Gambiarra”[10]. Felipe Fonseca, in a presentation from 2013 [11], emphasizes that some principles were set in collaboration with the ministry of culture, e.g., the primacy of culture over technology, use of free software and open licenses, easy accessibility, and active education.

The popular concept of “Gambiarra”, meaning “makeshift,”, solving problems creatively in alternative ways with low cost and lots of spontaneity, or giving unusual functions to everyday life objects a creative popular terminology, has been advocated by the Metareciclagem network. Not only did “Gambiarra” means repairing and enhancing objects and machines, but doing so thanks to collective effort, and the use of free software, invention and creativity. Here again the choice of the term “Gambiarra” is not random but corresponds to a valorization of popular Brazilian culture that creatively deals with material defects, therefore adds intimate and personal value to objects, and most importantly integrates this action in a social and community organization as an upcycling makeshift, that is also usually translated as kludge or hack, but also deploys an anthropophagic approach to the process by reclaiming the technological processes in a cultural environment. Although the term Gambiarra is largely used and in several professional areas such as programming, electronics, cinema, theater, plastic arts, architecture, design, the practice is often understood in a pejorative way. But Metareciclagem does not mean it in this pejorative way, reformulating the relation to the computer in favor of the less technologically proficient people; Gambiarra creates a space of familiarity with the object, when the precious technical object becomes something made out of recycled parts, nicely decorated, losing its features of dominance and making space for creative use, and what Felipe Fonseca calls: “Hypertropical Programação”. (Fonseca, 2015)

In those projects, decolonization of language functions there as performative utterances, affirmative in their cannibalistic approach, they are speech acts (Austin, 1962). They embed a different relation to technology countering the fact that important specific concepts pertaining to the domain of communication are not represented, therefore rendered difficult to use in the context of contemporary technology, as significant areas of social experience are obscured from collective understanding of technology, such as ancestral indigenous conceptions of communication, social organization and consciousness. In addition, the dialogue with feminist scientists such as Karen Barad is almost immediately established. Indeed, while all three projects value the relational understanding of communication presented in indigenous communities TCNXMNSM is particularly clear in stating as a ground fact that shamanism is a communication technology. Explaining Ancestrofuturismo, Fabi Borges says that indigenous "knowledges" have been ripped out, she argues that "there has been a violent destruction of ancestral knowledge and technologies to leave space for science following monotheist principles."[8:1], following Silvia Federici in her book Caliban and the Witch. By affirming Ancestrofuturismo, Fabi Borges formulates a diffracting relation (Barad 2007), in the sense that she brings the history of technology on other terrains, allowing for an intra-action modulating ancestrofuturistic relations based on ancestral "knowledges" and contemporary technologies. Breaking the sense of continuity, (re)configuring the relation to space and time and developing other modalities; Ancestrofuturismo asks to rethink with and through dis-continuity (Barad 2007). This approach diffracts across the spectrum of time and space, and therefore allows to reconfigure the scenes, from a large set of perspectives, read them through one another, and thread through one another. "Faced with this, techno + shamanism is an articulation which tries to consider this historical trauma, these lost yet not annihilated leftovers, and to recover (and reinvent) points of connection between technology and wasted ontologies," (Borges 2016).

All 3 networks are therefore primarily cultural processes based on a form of re-appropriation very true to the Brazilian principle of Cannibalist Theory. Starting from determining their language, all 3 networks also activate different community organization and resistance models, producing diffracting and decentralized intra-actions. The 3 projects studied here revise current concepts and organize technologies that can better serve resistances; reconfiguring their capacity through the use of ancestral language, and communication practices in dedicated decentralized networks. We will continue this analysis by understanding how this reconfiguration of the relation to technology translates also in the technological choices driving the development of those singular technologies.

All three projects propose unique technologies based on decentralized models. Decentralized software means that each instance of the software is hosted on a different server (each of them situated physically in a proxy or remote relation to the community or person(s) using the service), meaning that each hosting place, person or community organizes and determines the condition of usage of its specific instance of the software, sometimes formulating clear criteria, and governance. Decentralization is very coherent with both free software and community organization, this technological choice induces a political and community organization, singular technologies that reflect the projects themselves. Moreover as Baobáxia and Metareciclagem implement participatory management of servers in communities, all projects reassemble technologies, expose immense possibilities of underused technologies, transform usage of standard tools, and eventually associate technological build up to a ritualized event. Those projects understand decentralization as a premise that is inclusive of a dedicated decisional process. As we have seen, they have made distinctive choices, forming new concepts in the light of ancestral and community organization, adapting existing technical possibilities inclusive of the ones discarded by Internet monopolies. They have worked out a number of technological processes, that associate technical uniqueness to a specific cultural expression and resistance. This follows different models of "Re-appropriation" (Fonseca 2016). We will analyze here the technical choices and their entanglement to historical modalities of resistance and community organization that are worked as a model of decision making. We will finally propose that the specific affirmations made by those networks towards fostering Singular Technologies are a side step that opens the way to technological processes countering populist strategies.

Cultural coherence and infrastructure: decentralized technology, a choice made for collective organization

Decentralized computing can be simply defined as the allocation of resources, both hardware and software, to each location. However it has many implications, from the technical point of view, it is considered as a solution to existing problems caused by the accumulation of power in centralized monopolies, since it allows to moderate each implementation of the software locally, distributing the decisional capacity and the risks of failure and authoritarian control ; however, it is not a straightforward application, as many issues arise including access to the network, and existence of technical knowledge. We will address how the possibility of autonomy that resides in the technology is in fact activated by the community practices cultivated for centuries in networks of resistance among quilombolas (residents of quilombos).

While decentralization has been a major trend in the last few years, it is scarcely discussed as a possibility for a structural reorganization of decisional processes. Decentralized technologies should be associated to community organization, but sometimes they are blind to this possibility and by building on existing infrastructure and cloud services they do not think about ways to reconfigure existing distribution of power in technology. In this scope, the conversation needs to not only be technical, decentralized infrastructure must also imply a distributed system of decision making, and the distribution of according accountability and responsibility.

Decentralized computing allows for a diversity of identities and models of governance to happen, therefore it is necessary to clarify the modalities of a decentralized network organization that are characterized by technical features. A decentralized network needs a determined protocol to organize the communication between nodes, clarifying the modalities by which they exchange and make for a useful technology. Practically, the organization can happen along two major different types of protocols, peer-to-peer or federated that make for two different network architectures. A peer-to-peer system partitions tasks or workloads between peers, all nodes are equivalent, whereas in a federated system some nodes act as relays to other nodes acting as clients.

TCNXMNSM, Metareciclagem, and Baobáxia have experienced decentralization technologies in different modalities, using decentralized servers, mesh networks, eventually connected networks[12], using both peer-to-peer and federated protocols, always in consideration of relevant social organization and modalities of re-appropriation. Most importantly they have developed unique technologies such as the previously mentioned eventually connected network : Baobáxia. The software developed for Baobáxia is a social media based on Git; Git is a very important and otherwise widely used software, essential for developers to work together, as it allows to deal with version control in large distributed software development projects. However, the usage that Baobáxia makes of Git as a basis for a social media software is unique and very adapted to the context of the quilombos, where access to network and electricity might be scarce. Using Git as a basis permits that users locally upload media to the "mucuas" without needing Internet connectivity; when they do have connection they can share it to the rest of the Baobáxia network. This is uniquely responding to the needs of remotely situated quilombos.
Metareciclagem has been very forward thinking under the impulse of Daniel Pádua in thinking possible infrastructure for autonomous networks using recycled technologies, their reflections happened on mailing list conversations and are articulated and documented on developers community organization tools, wikis, and Github issues [13]

In the Baobáxia methodology/spirit, congruence between accurate physicality of the encounter and accurate construction of the digital archive and distributed social network is promoted throughout the whole process. This translates into the project being discussed during encounters/pajelança (rituals) that follow the models of governance and organization of the communities themselves. From the Baobáxia archives stored on the wiki, we see that technical workshops were organized among other topics and equally to them. The reports describe as much the ritual as the technical processes, all participants are called by the name used and function within their community. The reports also describe specific ritual practices and important discussions about quilombolas identity and their relation to technical processes; for example:

"In the sacred presence of the Baobab, which represents our African roots, TC draws attention to the importance of spirituality and passes the word to Mother Beth of Oxum, of Olinda, to pass on the axé, the spiritual strength, the communication. She sang a song for Ossanha, accompanied by the drums. She remembered the importance of strength through the leaves, because we are around the Baobab. He also did a song for Oxum and Yemanjá."[14]

While the workshops were transmitting important technical knowledge about how to implement, use and maintain a Mucua, Baobáxia implementation also engaged quilombolas in a reflection on how they understand their relation to communication and technology, in collaboration with local social centers, such as Casa Tainã, also part of Rede Mocambos. The chosen model relates to the history of quilombos where preserving culture and organizing life has been done for centuries hiding away from the oppressor. Indeed, the relation to visibility and invisibility is crucial to the history of quilombos, and this concern is well translated in the network infrastructure of Baobáxia, that reflects collective memory and permits to deal locally not only with the connectivity issues, but also allows for an autonomous platform to share information of value for the community away from mainstream exposure, keeping up with centuries old resistance strategy.

Those encounters also focus on very important political issues such as sustainability where community sustainability and larger ecological issues are entangled and technology is envisioned in relation to both, making for important political discussions. In addition, care is taken to publish reports online in their integrality. This demonstrates how the attention is put to build and deploy a technology that converges with all existing reflections in the community, being attuned not only with existing models of community organization, but also with political claims. All reports are archived on the organization’s wiki, would they be about governance issues or as collective reflection on the space of the encounter, for example:

"During the conversations and openings of the days, the relationship between ancestry and technology was deepened in the perception of the appropriation of technology as one of the tools for the diffusion of quilombola and community contributions."[15]

Transformative practices and affirmative resistance are the contexts set here, characterized not only by the choice of decentralizing, the specific eventually connected network, but also as Baobáxia sits at the fringes of mainstream technological model, freecycling its hardware components in Gambiarra and autonomizing its technology, organizing dedicated decision making processes through workshops happening in each of the 200 nodes of the network, defining its own network and proposing unique community produced media. However, complete autonomy does not exist and even less in technological or media practices, while the model situates itself in the context of occidental domination, it also exists in line with centuries of invisibility and resistance of the quilombos, the millennial culture of indigenous people, and of other people involved, who despite minorization have maintained their voices and a strong and unique culture.


Starting from taking back the future, and the intuition that a specific situation in Brazil at the beginning of the millennium has allowed for the development of Singular Technologies that emerge from the appropriation of technologies by communities of resistance, we observed a process that engages language and technology reconstruction, in coherence with existing creative or historical community organization. The 3 networks we chose to present, Metareciclagem, TCNXMNSM and Baobáxia, address from different scopes and contexts technology as compounding to liberation and organize their networks in correspondence with the modalities of their research and their communities. Technology is understood in a broader scope than only digital (although it does include the latter), and the pathway they undertake leads to bridge practices and organizations.
Each project presented deploys its own understanding of technology, envisioning different type of functionalities, scopes of application, and relations, and they all associate the notion of freedom fundamental to free software, insisting on building technologies of liberation. In this paper, we have developed different meanings of this assertion, from deploying constitutive language to singular networking technologies that comply with resistance models and community conditions, for example the lack of effective network connection. Furthermore the presented projects take a holistic approach, thinking historical relation to communication, epistemology and technology in relation to the new emergence of ICT. The networks have been thought from scratch as a tool allowing to serve resistances and their models of organization. This diffracting positioning permits to embrace the full scope of the technology situation from a history of domination. It is the first necessary step to confront the destruction of cultural practices as they are fed into the productivist agenda.

Those projects need to be considered as unique models that present functional examples of resistance communication strategies allowing for a diversity of expressions and social media organization, they include all aspects of the community models of governance in the technological organization providing examples of decentralized software that are developed and implemented to the service of minorized population and under their conditions.
Despite the importance of those projects they are hardly reported or studied, there has been across time an episodic relation to international academic environments with some scarce support for their researchers; it is important to note the imbalance between how much they achieved with so few support, and the lack of consideration for their existence. The existence of decentralized networks hosted in different communities working together is crucial to compose free technologies at the service of human creativity and historical resistance.


Barad, Karen. (2007). ‘Meeting the universe halfway: quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning.’ Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822339175.

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Takhteyev, Yuri. 2012. Coding Places: Software Practice in a South American City. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Toupin, Sophie & Spideralex (2018). “Radical Feminist Storytelling and Speculative Fiction: Creating new worlds by re-imagining hacking.” Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No. 13. 10.5399/uo/ada.2018.13.1

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  1. Petites Singularités "Singular Technologies and the Third-Technoscape" JOPP (Journal of Peer production)#11 city, February 2018, http://peerproduction.net/editsuite/issues/issue-11-city/experimental-format/singular-technologies-the-third-technoscape/ ↩︎

  2. Oswald de Andrae, Manifesto Antropófago, Em Piratininga, Ano 374 da Deglutição do Bispo Sardinha, (Revista de Antropofagia, Ano I, No. I, maio de 1928.) http://www.ufrgs.br/cdrom/oandrade/oandrade.pdf ↩︎

  3. "valorizar las iniciativas culturales de grupos y comunidades, ampliando el acceso a los medios de producción," source: http://www.brasildamudanca.com.br/es/cultura/puntos-de-cultura last checked March 8th 2019 ↩︎

  4. Source: De La Torre, Oscar (2013) “Are They Really Quilombos?” Black Peasants, Politics, and the Meaning of Quilombo in Present-Day Brazil. University of North Carolina at Charlotte. OFO: Journal of Transatlantic Studies VOL. 3, Nos. 1 & 2, p.10 ↩︎

  5. "Uma Rede de Servidores Locais - a roda de conversa com o tema Baobáxia na Rota dos Baobás" https://wiki.mocambos.net/index.php/NPDD/Baobáxia (last seen 07/02/2019) ↩︎

  6. "Alguns dos temas das rodas de conversa foram os Princípios e Reflexões sobre a Rede Mocambos - neste momento as falas foram orientadas em torno do nome Mocambos e da tecnologia do tambor; a forma de organização do Quilombo dos Palmares era em Mocambos, assim chamavam suas moradias. Outro elemento simbólico, o Baobá, esteve no meio da roda; a filosofia do Baobá e do tambor são centrais na Rede Mocambos: estão a serviço da humanidade, oferecem sentido ao mundo e fortalecem um compromisso político: nunca mais deixar de lutar."Introduction to the Pajelança Quilombólica Digital, Territorios Digitais Livres - Materia da TVB - Record (Abril 2015) referenced on https://wiki.mocambos.net/index.php/NPDD/ Baobaxìa (last seen 27/02/2019) ↩︎

  7. https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html ↩︎

  8. Fabiane Borges Futuros sequestrados x o antisequestro dos sonhos in Desterros, teirreros pós cadernos 02 coletâneas, Rio de janeiro 2017 ISBN: 978 8595820128 http://editoracircuito.com.br/website/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/desterros.pdf ↩︎ ↩︎

  9. Source: Em Rede – http://www.em-rede.com/site/entrevista/fabiane-m-borges-tecnoxamanismo-como-meio-de-recuperar-e-reinventar-pontos-de-conexão (last seen 07/01/2019) ↩︎

  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLZhWpskek4 (last seen 07/02/2019)
    http://we-make-money-not-art.com/gambiologia/ ↩︎

  11. Felipe Fonseca "MetaReciclagem" on Vimeo (last seen 07/02/2019) ↩︎

  12. Vincenzo Tozzi, Redes federadas eventualmente conectadas 2011, https://baobaxia.mocambos.net/media/mocambos/kalakuta/arquivo/16/01/11/redes-federadas-eventualmente-conectadas-3ba96.pdf (last seen 14/03/2019) ↩︎

  13. https://mutgamb.github.io/metalivro/historia/primordios.html ↩︎

  14. "Na presença sagrada do Baobá, que representa as nossas raízes africanas, TC chama a atenção para a importância da espiritualidade e passa a palavra à Mãe Beth de Oxum, de Olinda, para passar o axé, a força espiritual, a comunicação. Ela cantou um canto para Ossanha, acompanhada pelos tambores. Lembrou da importância da força pelas folhas, pois estamos ao redor do Baobá. Fez ainda um canto para Oxum e para Yemanjá." ↩︎

  15. "Durante as rodas de conversas e aberturas dos dias, a relação ancestralidade e tecnologia foi aprofundada na percepção da apropriação da tecnologia como uma das ferramentas para a difusão das contribuições quilombolas e comunitárias." ↩︎

here when you mention tecnoxaminsmo, the correct abbreviation is TCNXMNSM, I would only this, not the reduced version, but if you think it’s necessary, should be corrected to TCNXM, the S is out of place.

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