Prefiguring and Resisting Tech: Towards Just Transitions

(Image credit: ACM Interactions)

Confirmed participants include Kendra Albert (Berkman Klein Center, Cyberlaw Clinic), Sig Giordano (Kennesaw State University), Sarah T Hamid (Carceral Tech Resistance Network), Wayne Yang (UCSD).

The technology industry’s role in surveillance and exploitation requires a response and transition to more equitable, democratic, and solidaristic futures. Activists and scholars can draw on a rich foundation of theoretical and pragmatic work that imagines and enacts alternative futures to the dictates of racial capitalism and settler colonialism. The solidarity economy, for example, is a framework that seeks to network and build alternative economic practices and structures based on shared values that include cooperation, sustainability, equity, participatory democracy, and pluralism. Just transition centers justice and equity, along with reparations and redress for past harms, in the transition from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. Abolition proposes the end of policing, imprisonment, and surveillance as punitive practices and creating alternative forms of care, repair, and transformation to replace them.

As university workers, we struggle with how universities have historically created knowledge and conducted “community engagement” for state and corporate needs while ameliorating tensions and threats to the legitimacy of dominant orders. We believe that academic workers can be disloyal to these histories, but only by theorizing and acting against how institutions structure our labor, knowledge, and relationships.

The broad aims of this workshop are to gather university workers involved in technology and others who have a stake in these issues to share knowledge, develop stronger analyses of our movement-aligned work, and build relationships for future work and organizing. As conveners, we are researchers who engage issues of technology in alignment with social movements, community organizations, and unions. We draw lessons from and hope to be accountable to frontline communities, especially working class communities and Black, Indigenous, and people of color who are most directly harmed by technologies of surveillance, gentrification, and extraction.

We seek proposals that offer grounded accounts and analyses of topics such as:

  • Role of technology and technologists and their practices in social and solidarity movements

  • Solidarity economies, worker-cooperatives, regenerative economies, economic democracy, etc.

  • Pilot projects, technology experiments, and the role of the public sector in authorizing or governing them

  • Strategies to push back against surveillance, labor exploitation, environment, whether escape, structural change, or resistance, for overcoming these forces in the near- and long-term

  • Transformative scholarship, in theory and practice

  • Histories of academic complicity and violence (e.g., predictive policing, unaccountable research)

  • Just transitions, climate justice, environmental racism

  • Transportation and mobility justice (rider and worker equity, accessibility, environmental effects)

  • Alternative metrics and evaluation practices for tech and economic development

  • Abolitionist technology practices and liberatory design approaches

  • Analysis of and responses to false solutions (e.g., “false climate solutions”) proposed as answers to social movement demands

  • Political, infrastructural, and/or ideological issues do we see as posing a threat to organizing alternatives

  • What to do about personal or institutional complicities and harms, whether mitigation or means of repair (e.g. transformative justice)

Participation logistics: this workplace will take place virtually, tentatively scheduled for August 18th and 19th 2022 (to include international participants, we aim for early morning Pacific Time). We ask participants to submit a provocation of no more than 1000 words, whether an essay, analysis, story, or work of art by June 20. The submission should speak to how your liberation is tied up in the work described and what harms, however unintentionally, your positionality might risk in this work. These will be circulated among workshop participants in advance, for discussion during the workshop.

  • Submissions due: June 20, 2022

  • Notification of acceptance: Jul 1, 2022

  • Workshop: August 18th and 19th 2022

Please submit your provocations to

For those who do not have full-time employment, we can offer a stipend on request to support food, caregiving support, and time for participating in the workshop.

Accomodations: We plan on providing live captioning. Please do not hesitate to request additional accommodations that would facilitate your participation in the workshop.

Sponsored by: Just Transitions Initiative (UC San Diego), Tech Solidarity Lab (Carnegie Mellon University), UCSD Department of Communication, UCSD Democracy Lab.


​​Climate Justice Alliance, “What Do We Mean By Just Transition?”

Critical Resistance, “What is the PIC? What is Abolition?”

Cruz, M., Jordan, J., Salinas, S. A. B., Jones, R., Thomas, S., Ney, A., & Giordano, S. (2019). Using the feminist science shop model for social justice: a case study in challenging the nexus of racist policing and medical neglect. Women's Studies, 48(3), 283-308.

Hamid, Sarah T. “Community Defense: Sarah T. Hamid on Abolishing Carceral Technologies”

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Emily Kawano and Julie Matthaei. 2020. “System Change: A Basic Primer to the Solidarity Economy,” NPQ, July 8, 2020

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Just Transition Alliance, “What is Just Transition?”

Liboiron, Max. “Care and Solidarity Are Conditions for Interventionist Research.” Engaging Science, Technology, and Society 2, no. 0 (May 25, 2016): 67–72.

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TallBear, Kim. “Standing With and Speaking as Faith: A Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry.” Journal of Research Practice 10, no. 2 (July 1, 2014): 17.

Weasel, Lisa. “Laboratories without Walls: The Science Shop as a Model for Feminist Community Science in Action.” In Feminist Science Studies: A New Generation, edited by Maralee Mayberry, Banu Subramaniam, and Lisa Weasel. Florence: Taylor & Francis Group, 2001.