Being a ‘luddite’ is more than the derogatory term for people that refuse to use twitter or a smartphone. Luddites changed history by initiating critiques of technology beyond the mechanics and into the way that technology affects everyday people in the industrial era. Luddites prototyped activism through violence in a time of military powers. Are they relevant today?
I propose that Bio-luddites might teach us about engaging with biotechnology far beyond the glamour of transhumanism and synthetic engineering and into its affects on our everyday lives. Biotechnology is monoculture, food process, GMO, ecological impact, invasive species, food deserts and public health. Perhaps Bio-luddites might democratize biotech critiques to balance the current movement of bio-hackers democratizing biotech innovation? This project uses the parallel experiments in Ghent, Belgium, where I’ve helped to initiate an on-going mass public participation involving the locals, scientists, vegetarian societies, the mayor and the national TV station, to explore how a city might become active in subverting a glitch in the system for grassroot expertise, policies and innovations.
Might Bio-luddites prototype a new form of activism that can be sustained within the service culture? Might these activities become socialized? Might these extraordinary activities even fit in our busy everyday lives in the times wasted while waiting for a doctor’s appointment?