"Technological Disobedience" in Cuba and informal making education


by Susan Klimczak -

The FabLearn Fellows have been talking a lot about decentering the history and definition of making, makers and maker education.  

I ran across this video on "Technological Disobedience" in Cuba that sparked my imagination.  



The description says:

In 1991, Cuba's economy began to implode. "The Special Period in the Time of Peace" was the government's euphemism for what was a culmination of 30 years worth of isolation. It began in the 60s, with engineers leaving Cuba for America. Ernesto Oroza, a designer and artist, studied the innovations created during this period. He found that the general population had created homespun, Frankenstein-like machines for their survival, made from everyday objects. Oroza began to collect these machines, and would later contextualize it as "art" in a movement he dubbed "Technological Disobedience."

Here is a link to an article about the video and idea:  http://motherboard.vice.com/read/mbtv-the-technological-disobedience-of-...

He describes how people in Cuba became fearless makers and tinkerers and has collected their inventions because he feels they are artistic expressions, as well as tools for survival.  

I think that we should add this story whenever we speak about the history of "making" and "maker education." Education takes place as people work together informally to define problems in their community and find solutions. . . not just in schools, in enrichment programs or among hobbists!


Christa Flores's picture


Thank you for sharing your resources. I thought this video was so inspiring. I am facinated by the resourcefulness and imagination of those who are shut out of the consumerism culture that we hold so dear.  Can you get a copy of "The Book for The Family" anywhere? Should we make a new one for Americans, in case our economic structure fails and we are left with only our wit and land fills? 

Susan Klimczak's picture


Your question moves me.  I think that the "book is being written" now in Detroit where people coming together are reimagining work, homes and community because has already been happening there.  I suggest you look toward the writings of Grace Lee Boggs, especially her book The Next American Revolution.  I follow the listserv DCOH (Detroit City of Hope) and every day see people thinking and acting together to reimagine and rebuild the city under such dire circumstance right here in the US.  

One small way we can do this each day is to infuse our own programs with "technologies of the heart," those technologies that are necessary to bring out the best in us and enhance our relationships with ourselves and each other.  We can help our youth to believe they are deserving, because believing in your own humanity and believing you are deserving is always the first step in making powerful social change.  We can believe in the capactiy of our youth to create change in their communities and ask them to turn their imaginations toward creating things that make the world work for everyone. I have seen the impact of this over more than a decade of practice in Boston. Wherever they go, their experience and their belief in themselves and their community has an impact.

Thank you for thinking with me, Christa.  Your thoughtful support makes my heart feel warm and hopeful that others will join us in our concerns.




Christa Flores's picture

Thats it! I have to get out there and see you soon. Your work never stops inspiring. All this fresh california air is making my brain soft! That aside, I have been working on a draft of a manifesto for my school and a partner's school. I want to share it with you in hopes that we can use it when we work towards a real one for the FabLearn fellows program. What is the DNA of making? What would our manifesto say? 


Juliet Wanyiri's picture

Thanks for sharing this, Susan! I find that it resonates with the 'Technology Disobedience' of makers in Africa - taking technologies and electronics apart, and re-engineering and re-desiging them in a way that suits the needs of the local user. Which is really what technology should do - get to the heart of the matter and solve problems. His video illustrates just how necessity (and creativity) really is the mother of innovation!