Border Tech Lab

Much contemporary life is entangled with an amalgam of digital technologies--from machine readable identifications and surveillance systems to the conjuring of tech startups and ubiquitous computing. These technologies are the product of knowledge communities that push the boundaries of imagination even as they work to delineate the boundaries of the possible.


The Border Tech Lab examines these knowledge communities and their role in the fabrication of artifacts, politics, and lifeworlds. The U.S. public tends to imagine the southern U.S. border as a vast, desolate and unpopulated landscape. Its enormity and remoteness become sources of anxiety to be managed by new technological artifacts and infrastructures. The aim of the Border Tech Lab is to interrogate this boundary making process while paying close attention to the ways actors engage digital technologies. As a result the Lab has researched or is researching drones, electronics manufacturing, the gig economy, hacker/makerspaces, and artistic practices. Members of the Lab participate in team-based research using a variety of methods that include archival research, oral history, critical inquiry, and discourse analysis.

Currently the BTL is pursuing research on the intersections between anti-immigrant paramilitary organizations and citizen technoscience, the infrastructure of the gig economy, and electronics and computer manufacturing along the U.S.-Mexico borderlands from the 1960s to the present. These projects address a variety of issues that include the creation of a technopolitical regime, the proliferation of a precarious, racialized, and gendered division of labor, the production of toxicity, and the urbanization of the borderlands.

Chaar López and the Border Tech Lab are currently accepting graduate and undergraduate students. If you are interested in joining the BTL, please fill out this survey.

You can also email Professor Chaar López at ichaar (at) utexas (dot) edu.