Hector Beltrán

Mellon/ACLS Resident Scholar

2017–2018

Hacking Imaginaries: Codeworlds and Code Work Across the U.S./México Borderlands

Héctor BeltránHéctor BeltránPhoto courtesy of Nick Tikhonov.Héctor BeltránPhoto courtesy of Nick Tikhonov.

Mr. Beltrán’s project ethnographically investigates emerging forms of hacking by moving between key physical sites in México and the San Francisco Bay Area. The anthropology of hacking has mostly focused on an undifferentiated community of computer experts precisely because experts themselves claim that language, culture, and nation are irrelevant to improving their technical craft and achieving “software freedom.”  What happens, however, when practices of hacking challenge the boundaries of colorblind social commonwealth and intersect with constructions of race, nation, and class? At one level, Beltrán’s work makes a comparative analysis of how communities positioned on opposite sides of the U.S./México border make small re-inventions to established expert models that promote hacking and tech entrepreneurship. On another level, as these two tech communities coalesce by participating in events aimed at empowering a Latina/o collective, the study highlights the striking ways “hacker-entrepreneurs” navigate seemingly contradictory domains as they contest (and construct) new forms of racism and capitalism across the complex techno-borderlands.

Affiliation at time of award:
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of California - Berkeley


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