Popular information communication technologies (ICTs) like Facebook or Nextdoor are starting to get publicly called out for their anti-Black, anti-poor implications. Technology workers in Big Tech companies are unionizing to demand more humane conditions for their labor. In many ways, the latent logics of whiteness and global capitalism that have fundamentally governed the market of ICTs since forever, are now exposed. Black and Brown community organizations at the frontline of tech-mediated oppressions are the ones leading this line of inquiry and resistance.
In my work, I draw from these critical theories of whiteness and technology—theories that are rooted in Black Radical Tradition, as practiced and lived by the US and the Global South. In the past, I have partnered with grassroots social movements of the Black US South to understand their relationship to modern ICTs. In the present, I am trying to understand how we can form solidarities transnationally to form a truly liberatory, Southern praxis of techmology. At the crux of this praxis is the agenda to locate and dismantle the logic of whiteness in how ICTs are used and produced.
In this talk, I’ll share my learnings from the field of resistance and research. Building on critiques of technology articulated by Phil Agre and others, I have consolidated my findings into the framing of Critical Technology Practice (CTP). CTP is an attempt in understanding what it means to ground our future infrastructures of accountability in the critical theories of power, capital, whiteness, heteronormativity, and other structures of oppression. How did we get here? Where do we go now? With the framing of CTP, in this talk, I will share my thoughts on what I see as the agenda of fostering public accountability towards ICTs in the field of HCI and beyond.
Sucheta Ghoshal is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington.
Sucheta has been embedded in grassroots social movements in the United States—both as a researcher and as an activist—for the last five years. Her research focuses on studying how grassroots social movements in the United States relate to information and communication technologies (ICTs). Broadly, her work strives to critically question ICTs in their totality for the role they continue to play in the larger systems of oppression—namely, systemic racism, class, caste, and gendered oppressions. Additionally, she is interested in uncovering ways in which we can form public means of consciousness, resistance, and accountability against technology-mediated systemic oppression.
Sucheta was formerly a software engineer at the Wikimedia Foundation where she built several tools for Wikipedia and worked on building a community of Wikipedians in India. She has been a community organizer working in various capacities globally for over a decade.