Painting by Hilma av Klint

The blockchain is a core component of the architecture of Bitcoin, a global digital money that operates independently of existing government and financial institutions by using cryptographic hashing to register, validate and store transactions in a distributed manner. The blockchain has spurred a wave of innovation beyond Bitcoin and crypto-currencies, with the proposition of decentralizing processes that would normally require a central authority validate it and guarantee trust – leading to claims of impending radical transformation of governance and institutions of state and finance. The technology has thus caught the imagination of actors across the political spectrum sceptical of centralized authority …

The Distributing Chains research project looks at the new political and economic geographies proposed through the blockchain infrastructure. Not only tracing the effects of the technology, the project primarily seeks the moments and decisions in which some pathways are chosen over others, focusing on the sites where difference is actively sought and produced – difference between existing political structures and blockchain based ones, as well as differences between the consensus protocols used across various applications. The Distributing Chains project will therefore be focusing less on the potential incremental improvements to existing systems, such as lowering transaction costs, and more on the articulation of new techno-political practices and possibilities.

Notes, sources and resources, interviews, drawings and that are the interim outcomes of the research project are published on this website.

Distributing Chains is a PhD project by Jaya Klara Brekke based in the Geography department of Durham University UK.

Supervised by professors Joe Painter and Harriet Bulkeley, and advised by Louise Amoore.

Contact: j.k.brekke@durham.ac.uk

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