Blockchains and the “Chains of Empire” – Contextualizing Blockchain Cryptocurrency and Neoliberalism in Puerto Rico
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Crandall, Jillian. 2019. “Blockchains and the “Chains of Empire”: Contextualizing Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and Neoliberalism in Puerto Rico,” Design and Culture, 11:3, 279-300, DOI: 10.1080/17547075.2019.1673989
Design and Culture link: https://doi.org/10.1080/17547075.2019.1673989
This paper was an extension of work developed in my thesis at The New School (Parsons School of Design, Theories of Urban Practice), adding more specificity to the context of neoliberalization in its relationship to cryptocurrencies and blockchains in Puerto Rico. The article is short and many interviews, blockchain case studies, and decolonial design approaches were cut out due to word limit, but I do go into more detail in my thesis.
For those who may argue that I am a blockchain pessimist – this is a fair assumption – but I do acknowledge that there are certain cases where blockchain may be effective (Brooklyn Microgrid, for example, which I write about in Chapter 3 of my thesis). I do acknowledge that certain aspirations regarding blockchain, not only in Puerto Rico but across the world, are meant to be altruistic. But the core of my argument is that we must look at the specific context and organizational structure of digital architectures specifically to determine who blockchain is meant to benefit, and who it can realistically benefit on top of already-existing digital inequalities.