Gendering the making: The case of contemporary makerspaces in Athens

Natalia-Rozalia Avlona,

Lawyer, PhD Candidate,

National and Technical University of Athens,

Department of Humanities Social Sciences and Law

Abstract: During the last years, we have witnessed the emergence ofmakerspaces -as open, community-led spaces, where open source software and hardware are utilised (Kwstakis, Niaros, and Giotitsas,2015)- suggesting new techno-spaces and cultures of “phygital" production. In these spaces, the DIY and “making” culture, seems to be succeeding the intangible hacking culture of the FOSS movement, shifting the socio-material conditions with which the “makers” engage with technology and production. At the same time the burgeoning literature around the “digital commons” both in terms of activist action and theoretical development, is closely related to the genealogy of hacklabs and hackerspaces, as there spaces where the hacking activities, when not contained in their online communities, were sharing a hybrid locus. However, whilst the deviation of the contemporary makerspaces from the hacking ethos of the FOSS communities remains ambivalent in literature, the “maker movement” is currently permeated by the narrative of the 4th industrial revolution (Anderson 2012; Schwab 2015). This narrative nevertheless leaves a wide space for discussion and counterarguments on the post-capitalist potentialities that makerspaces represent. Particularly, the discourse about the democratisation of technology and manufacturing through the DLML (Design Local Manufacture Local) movement within makerspaces is struggling with the issues of inclusivity and gender balance, as well as the gendered nature of the open technologies. Aim of this paper is to conceptualise these deficiencies and present a feminist analysis-under construction, through the qualitative and quantitative research conducted in the contemporary makerspaces in Athens.

Bio: Natalia-Rozalia Avlona is a lawyer and researcher working as a research assistant for the TARGET project at ELIAMEP (Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy) in Athens. She studied law at the School of Law of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (2006), obtained her Master's Degree in Law (LLM) from King's College London (2007), and followed courses in the department of Cultural Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London and in the department of Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art. Currently, she is a Phd Candidate at the National Technical University of Athens, and her thesis topic is “Open Technologies: Their Histories, Laws and Genders”. Her expertise is on Digital Commons and the ways that Technology, Law and Gender intersect in this area.
Avlona has an international experience working in several Organizations and European Research Programmes in UK, Belgium and Greece. Among those are the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Organisation of Industrial Property in Greece, the Royal College of Art in London, Abandon Normal Devices in Manchester, the Future Emerging Technologies Department (DG Connect, EU Commission) in Brussels, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality and the GUnet (Greek Universities Network) in Athens. She is member of the Management Committee of Cost Action CA16121-From Sharing to Caring: Examining Socio-Technical Aspects of the Collaborative Economy (2017-2021). At the moment she is part of ELIAMEP’s Junior Research Fellows Team, working on TARGET (Taking a Reflexive Approach to Gender Equality for Gender Transformation), a research program that aims to contribute to the advancement of gender equality in Research and Innovation.

Besides her academic career Avlona has a strong involvement as an activist in the field of digital commons and gender equality, whilst she has run a series of workshops on Wikipedia for the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) sector, co-organised feminist workshops on FOSS at and (un)conferences on the commons. The last three years, she is member of the Social Solidarity Economy Zone, DOCK.