Cover Image for Metagov House @ ETH Denver - Experimental Affinal Kinship-Logics for DAOs

Metagov House @ ETH Denver - Experimental Affinal Kinship-Logics for DAOs

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Denver, Colorado
Past Event
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About Event


Anna Weichselbraun

Metagov House @ ETH Denver Series

Join us for the Metagov House series at ETH Denver. We are hosting four discussions/workshops looking at:

  • Attention Governance,

  • DAO Constitutions and Amendability,

  • Games and Governance, and

  • Kinship-logics for DAOs

Event Brief

If you’re interested in building DAO based communities organized around social relations that decenter profit motives, come join a speculative workshop in which we co-conjure a crypto-economic system based on affinal kinship logics of self-selected mutual obligation.

Detailed Brief

How can blockchain-based socio-technical forms such as DAOs be mobilized for projects that further social, political, and economic rights?

In an era characterized by mistrust in politics, established institutions, and experts, blockchains have been heralded as a new "trustless" technology poised to enable new social, political, and economic formations that do not rely on corrupt authorities. Blockchain's trustlessness is thought to derive from the immutability provided by cryptographic security. I don't need to know anything about you in order to transact with you anonymously and reliably on the Internet using a blockchain. Yet, many experimenters in the blockchain space are coming to realize that the social coordination that blockchains enable do rely in some ways on reputation, solidarity, familiarity--in other words, on permutations of what is often called "trust."

Most scholarship presumes trust to be more readily achievable in small-scale, "face to face" societies in which individuals know each other and can swiftly sanction deviant behavior. Trust is thought to become more difficult to scale up in modern societies in which each individual only knows a small subset of the overall group. In such large, complex societies, it is presumed, governing institutions such as the state and its administrative and judicial bodies become essential to maintaining the social fabric. Trust, in this view, is achieved through the reliable supply of rights, services, and mechanisms for repairing violations. Blockchain's innovation —its repair for the crisis of trust in institutions—is "trustlessness." Anonymous participants might coordinate without trusting each other or a middle-man; they could simply "trust" the technology itself.

Against the common wisdom, anthropological research suggests that social coordination in small-scale societies works not because all members know each other but because their relations to others in the social group are structured by sets of mutual obligations defined by kinship relations. Indeed, in many indigenous societies, kinship is the basis not just for social but also political and economic organization.

This leads to the question: Can the social coordinative functions of kinship be translated into the virtual world?

Most of the thinking around online self-governance and token economies proceeds from assumptions of autonomous individual actors motivated by economic incentives and operating according to game-theoretical models. I suggest that kinship relationality supporting a demand sharing economy could offer a startlingly different premise for online self-governance, one that is morally aligned with the transformative objectives of social justice by prioritizing the health of the community over the individual accumulation of value.

Within this moment of experimentation with social coordination, I extend Haraway’s injunction to "make kin," by doing so cryptographically. Blockchain technologies could be mobilized as techno-social assemblages to bring together unrelated individuals in non-biological kin relations: making crypto-kinship, as it were, for the purpose of building commons-oriented online communities.

This workshop seeks to bring together all those interested in co-conjuring an experimental crypto-kinship DAO with the aim of growing healthy communities.