Ron Eglash, Kwame P Robinson, Audrey Bennett, Lionel Robert, Mathew Garvin

Computational reparations as generative justice: Decolonial transitions to unalienated circular value flow

  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Communication
  • Information Systems

The Latin roots of the word reparations are “re” (again) plus “parere” which means “to give birth to, bring into being, produce”. Together they mean “to make generative once again”. In this sense, the extraction processes that cause labor injustice, ecological devastation, and social degradation cannot be repaired by simply transferring money. Reparations need to take on the full sense of “restorative”: the transition to a decolonial system that can support value generators in the control of their own systems of production, protect the value they create from extraction, and circulate value in unalienated forms that benefit the human and non-human communities that produced that value. With funding from the National Science Foundation, we have developed a research framework for this process that starts with “artisanal labor”: employee-owned business and worker collectives that have people doing what they love, despite low incomes. Focusing primarily on Detroit's Black-owned urban farms, artisanal textile businesses, Black hair salons, worker collectives, and other community-based production, with additional connections to Indigenous and other communities, we have introduced digital fabrication technologies, sensors, artificial intelligence, server-side apps and other computational support for a transition to unalienated circular value flow. We will report on our investigations with the challenges at multiple scales. At each level, we show how computational supports can act as restorative mechanisms for lost circular value flows, and thus address both past and ongoing disenfranchisement.

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