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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Staging the Hackathon: Codeworlds and Code Work in México

  • Author(s): Beltrán, Héctor
  • et al.
The data associated with this publication are available upon request.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork between 2013 and 2016, this paper investigates emerging forms of hacking and entrepreneurial development in Mexico. I show how research participants attend hackathons and hone their coding skills at co-working spaces in Mexico City and in Xalapa, as they hack away to build solidarity and find the “coding bliss,” the affective dimension one encounters when creating beautiful code. As hacker-entrepreneurs tease out the tensions between self-making and being-made, they fill an overarching neoliberal agenda with substance, meaning, and materiality. For young people in Mexico, “hacking” emerges as a way to make sense of their future livelihoods in a precarious state and economy, as a way to exist in a system where things just don’t seem to work, and as a way to let the “code work” intervene in narratives that have only delivered false hopes. As hackathons continue to proliferate across the globe, I conclude by examining how the underlying logics of software design, such as “loose coupling,” become fundamental for the re-organizing of social relations in Mexico.

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