Ecofeminist and Always Unfinished Space Making

This entry is part of rosa's Ecofeminist Dictionary from the project A Traversal Network of Feminist Servers (ATNOFS) and is based on two conversations with Sergiu Nisioi and Anca Bucur of hypha 1.

The first thing that surfaced during my discussions with hypha is a confrontation with the paradox of sustainable and feminist ICT. hypha acknowledges that network technologies are deeply patriarchal and have a patriarchal history that continues to spread unequally in the world. True autonomy and environmental sustainability are impossible in this context, you are always enmeshed in patriarchal, capitalist, and unsustainable systems, so the only thing you can do is to make do with what you have, with what is already there. This acknowledgement doesn’t mean surrendering, but functions as a catalyst for doing technology otherwise, for possible ongoingness.

For hypha the practices developed around rosa made it clear that rosa is a feminist server not because of any specific technology or tool, but because of how we engaged with each other, how rosa gave us a common space. This common space was rooted in feminist ways of thinking and theorizing about the world. This involves the idea of care — to have something together that we — the people around rosa — can take care of, and in doing this, we create occasions to reinforce our community, to know each other better, to know about the space and how to use it. Examples of this care include paying attention to issues around consent and understanding what we are each comfortable giving and receiving. It’s like a house: what’s important is how we’re collectively deciding to live in it, not the house itself. Because of this, hypha didn't want to focus their chapter on providing technical knowledge to others to self host, but on hanging out together, learning to share this space, and figuring out how we want to use it. It's a space to collectively take care of; we’re not focusing on the tech but on the community it gives space to.

This space-making is always unfinished and ongoing. In hypha's context there is no funding, which means that such an endeavor can only be carried forward by a collective of volunteers with little time on their hands. It’s a financial problem. Ongoingness relies on a very delicate balance of giving and taking. The risk of tasks becoming too heavy a burden is high, and with this the risk of irritations and conflict. Setting up any kind of technological infrastructure cannot fall on the shoulders of one person and requires a gradual process of consolidation in a heterogeneous group bringing together different backgrounds and types of knowledge; it’s an ongoing process of learning from each other. It can only converge in a local and specific way. hypha doesn't intend to copy practices from elsewhere and cannot afford to either.

“While urging for depriving the technological apparatus of its classist and gendered strains and vocabularies, hypha stands for a knowledge situated in collective emancipation. It intends to carry workshops and lectures, taking on new-materialist, eco-feminist, hacktivist possibilities of software actualizations and embodiments." -- hypha 2

Which brings me to ecofeminism, which has always linked feminism with environmentalism and decoloniality, without prioritizing one over the others but showing how they are interrelated3. hypha's space-making is informed by ecofeminist and decolonial thought. That means not copying technology and practices or borrowing language from the west. Technology and practices which are assumed to be universal and scale to a global level, disregarding diversity and local contexts, and which are based on digital extractivism. Instead, hypha see their practice as a reconfiguring of scale, thinking through digital spaces in a situated and local way, important in disseminating and sharing knowledge. They are in the process of learning about setting up and maintaining online shared spaces with queer and marginalized groups, with a decolonial way of doing.

Perhaps, hypha mused, the only way to go about things locally is to stay on a local area network (LAN) and only much later connect multiple local networks together.

  1. hypha (RO) is a collective based in Bucharest, Romania. It is an unfinished project. They are still writing their story. hypha is a non-homogenous group of individuals. The people taking part in hypha meetings are joined by the curiosity to explore technology with both curiosity and critique. hypha meetings have been informal. They discussed subjects that emerged naturally from their lived experience. Their understanding and relationship with technology differs from person to person. This created a space of diverse opinions. They have held space for their differences, and they have held each other through learning about the things that they struggled with. They also gathered to watch and discuss movies — curated documentaries about hacking culture. These stories sparked further exploration. This description is an adaptation of The Unfinished Story.
  2. Bucur, A. and Nisioi, S. (2022, October 6) HYPHA, hypha. Available from:
  3. Salleh, A. (1997) Ecofeminism as Politics. 2017th ed. London: Zed books.