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Erin McElroy / Silicon Valley Imperialism

July 17 @ 6:00 pm

The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, City Lights, and Duke University Press present

Erin McElroy in conversation with Chris Carlsson, Manissa M. Maharawal, Toshio Meronek, and Lisa Rofel

celebrating the publication of

Silicon Valley Imperialism: Techno Fantasies and Frictions in Postsocialist Times

By Erin McElroy

Published by Duke University Press

In Silicon Valley Imperialism, Erin McElroy maps the processes of gentrification, racial dispossession, and economic predation that drove the development of Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area and how that logic has become manifest in postsocialist Romania. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and archival research in Romania and the United States, McElroy exposes the mechanisms through which the appeal of Silicon Valley technocapitalism devours space and societies, displaces residents, and generates extreme income inequality in order to expand its reach. In Romania, dreams of privatization updated fascist and anti-Roma pasts and socialist-era underground computing practices. At the same time, McElroy accounts for the ways Romanians are resisting Silicon Valley capitalist logics, where anticapitalist and anti-imperialist activists and protesters build on socialist-era worldviews not to restore state socialism but rather to establish more just social formations. Attending to the violence of Silicon Valley imperialism, McElroy reveals technocapitalism as an ultimately unsustainable model of rapacious economic and geographic growth.

Erin McElroy is Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Washington and coeditor of Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement and Resistance.

Chris Carlsson, is a writer, San Francisco historian, “professor,” bicyclist, tour guide, blogger, photographer, book and magazine designer. He has written four books (When Shells Crumble, Hidden San Francisco: A Guide to Lost Landscapes, Unsung Heroes, and Radical Histories; After the Deluge; Nowtopia) edited six books, (Reclaiming San Francisco, The Political Edge, Bad Attitude, Critical Mass: Bicycling’s Defiant Celebration, Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco, 1968-78 and Shift Happens! Critical Mass at 20), and co-authored the expanded second edition of Vanished Waters: The History of San Francisco’s Mission Bay. He helped co-found Critical Mass in September, 1992.

Manissa M. Maharawal’s work has been published in Annals of the American Association of Geographers, Antipode, Sociological Quarterly, American Anthropologist, Anthropological Theory, Anthropological Quarterly, Abolition Journal, Radical Housing Journal, The Guardian, N+1, AlterNet among others. She is the author of the forthcoming book The Activist’s City: Social Movements, Structures of Feeling, and the Politics of Place. She is actively involved with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project and recently co-edited the project’s first atlas: Counterpoints: A San Francisco Bay Area Atlas of Displacement & Resistance (PM Press 2021.) With Erin McElroy, she cofounded the oral history wing of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project called the Narratives of Displacement and Resistance Project aimed to document urban change and resistance by foregrounding the stories of people who have been, or who are being, displaced.

Toshio Meronek’s writing has appeared in Al Jazeera, The Nation, them, Truthout, Vice News, and more. They host the podcast Sad Francisco, and their book Miss Major Speaks is out now from Verso.

Lisa Rofel is an anthropologist, specialising in feminist anthropology and gender studies. She received a B.A. from Brown University, followed by an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and is currently a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Rofel’s publications include Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture, and Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism.

Praise for the book Silicon Valley Imperialism

“In this strikingly original and important book, Erin McElroy forges a new field: postsocialist technology studies. Decentering the United States as the primary locale through which to apprehend the racial workings of technocapitalism, McElroy maps unexpected yet urgent connections between Silicon Valley and Romania. Alongside lucid accounts of the differential yet entangled operations of racial technocapitalism and racial banishment across these vastly different histories and locales, McElroy highlights the hopeful possibilities for anti-imperialist solidarities that can emerge against the odds.” — Neda Atanasoski, coauthor of Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures

“Brimming with compelling historical insights, Silicon Valley Imperialism is a conceptually engaging, empirically grounded, and essential contribution to postsocialist and decolonial studies, the contemporary history of Romania, and an understanding of techno-capitalism’s transatlantic ambitions.” — Michele Lancione, author of For a Liberatory Politics of Home

To learn more about the Anti Eviction Mapping Program visit this link: https://antievictionmap.com/

Made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation.