Interrupting Merit, Subverting Legibility: Navigating Caste In 'Casteless' Worlds of Computing

Palashi Vaghela, Steven J Jackson, Phoebe Sengers
2022 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems  
Recent work in HCI has shed light on structural issues of inequality in computing. Building on this work, this study analyzes the relatively understudied phenomenon of caste in computing. Contrary to common rhetorics of 'castelessness,' we show how computing worlds in India and Indian diasporic communities continue to be shaped and infected by caste relations. We study how, when and where Dalits (formerly 'untouchables') encounter caste in computing. We show how they artfully navigate these
more » ... e inscriptions by interpreting, interrupting and ambiguating caste and by fnding caste communities. Drawing on the life stories of 16 Dalit engineers and anti-caste, queer-feminist and critical race theories, we argue that a dynamic and performative approach to caste, and other forms of inequality in HCI and computing, emphasizes the artfulness and agency of those at the margins as they challenge structural inequality in everyday life. Lastly, we suggest practical ways of addressing caste to build more open and inclusive cultures of global computing. CCS CONCEPTS • Human-centered computing → Empirical studies in HCI; Empirical studies in collaborative and social computing.
doi:10.1145/3491102.3502059 fatcat:qgl2jlywanbcpdldqyz3rzy75a