Brazilian Hackerspaces as Spaces of Resistance and Free Education

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* Article: Activism in Brazil: hacker spaces as spaces of resistance and free education. Raquel Renno.



"Hackerspaces and medialabs in unusual and traditional cultural places seem to be the alternative to the educational and digital gap between rich and poor in Brazil. Raquel Renno analyses this gap and reconstructs the subversive potential auf heterotopic spaces.

Many emerging cultural practices assisted or constituted by digital media were fostered in Brazil by the Cultural Points Project (Pontos de Cultura), initially proposed by the former Brazilian Minister of Culture of President Lula da Silva’s, Gilberto Gil. With Dilma Rousseff, Pontos de Cultura was considered of lesser importance, but the same cannot be said of the group of activists that are working across the country disseminating and building knowledge from digital culture. Groups that were organized horizontally and composed in a large sense by youngsters, developed e-waste recovery projects and computer programming (mainly based on free software) in permanent or ephemeral workshops and hackerspaces that were assembled in unique spaces such as offices in malls, classrooms, indigenous villages, Umbanda worship places (Afro-Brazilian worship houses) and houses in slums (favelas). Some initiatives in different cities in Brazil (Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Recife) were analysed in the present paper. The selected examples show different ways of sharing knowledge that update the democratization of the education proposal based on a horizontal communication and conjoint experience. In these spaces, the hierarchical spatial structure of the typical classroom was replaced to the shared space of the workshop; the image of the teacher was replaced by the image of the colleague with whom we can learn and teach at the same time; there are no homogeneous age groups, gender or social class; activities are not conducted according to the content or skills instead of that they are based on the projects and objectives defined by the student. At the same time, a space is created in which the traditional and digital culture are not in opposite positions, but instead of that, they complement each other. The use of free software and technological waste recovery questions the relationship between the access to technology and the power consumption, the cycle of obsolescence and the continuous generation of waste from a grassroots perspective. New ways of knowledge are generated from connections between different individuals and backgrounds without forgetting the inherently political nature of the production of knowledge." (