Making Subjectivities: How China's DIY Makers Remake Industrial Production, Innovation & the Self
Presented at the Eleventh Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC11), Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, 15 June 2013
14 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 15, 2013
In this paper, I explore the unique development of this contemporary maker movement in China. Drawing from in-depth ethnographic research conducted since 2010, I will show how the emergence of China’s maker culture on the one hand draws upon the earlier hacker movement in the West, but also challenges many of its very fundamentals. The matter they hack is not only software code and hardware design, but also cultural interpretations of what openness, creativity and innovation could and should mean today. For instance, in contrast to Maker circles in the US and Europe, their counterparts in China rarely identify as a countercultural movement, however neither do they simply accept the status quo. Their goal is to remake what maker culture and innovation mean in China as much as in the West. To accomplish this, they engage in what I call “parasitic" and "symbiotic" partnerships. By this I refer to collaborations amongst new allies including politicians, policy makers, and venture capitalists alongside artists, non-profit organizations, and grassroots communities.
Keywords: DIY, China, Make, Maker Movement, innovation, open hardware, Shenzhen, electronics, CIRC11, Chinese Internet Research
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