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 boundaries, digital 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 continues to accept 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.

Meet the BTL Team

Chaar López B&W headshot.jpeg

Iván Chaar López

Principal Investigator

Emma Li - headshot_edited.jpg

Emma Li

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emma Li is a Junior at the University of Texas at Austin studying Race, Indigeneity and Migration along with Marketing. She’s interested in research at the intersection of art and design, critical race theory and social movements. In her free time Emma enjoys making pastries, messing around with watercolors and exploring all the coffee shops in Austin.


Victoria Sánchez

Visiting Scholar

Victoria Sánchez obtained her B.A. in Gender Studies from Carleton College and her M.A. in Latin American & Latina/o Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include feminist science and technology studies, ethics in AI, inclusive data, Latinx Studies, and speculative art and design. Outside of the lab, you can find her supporting outstanding young leaders or the “future of work” as a Career Program Manager at the Posse Foundation in San Francisco, CA.