Settler Tech: A conversation on indigenous history and the US tech sector with author Malcolm Harris (‘10)

Event Start Date: Wednesday, May 3, 2023 - 5:00 pm

Event End Date: Wednesday, May 3, 2023 - 6:00 pm

Location: In Person Only: UMD College Park, Tawes 0320

This is free in-person event, open to the public. No registration required. Please wear a mask.

The US technology sector seems, again and again, to just appear, in a moment of immaculate innovation, from a garage, a dorm, or just some guy’s head. But the names that rule the stock market—Apple, Google, Facebook—owe much of their contemporary power to their deep economic roots in Northern California. Indeed, it is within the settler history of Silicon Valley, in fights over the land and its use, that we see most clearly how the tech sector formed this pioneer identity.

The Colleges of Arts & Humanities and Information Studies invite you to a conversation with author and UMD alumnus Malcolm Harris (‘10), on the occasion of the publication of his new book Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World. Harris will be joined by Daniel Greene (Information Studies) and Bayley Marquez (American Studies). Together, they will discuss how Silicon Valley’s mission to conquer the world began with a mission to conquer Northern California, and how local struggles between indigenous peoples, white settlers, and migrant workers set the stage for a global economy based in rent-seeking and outsourcing.

More on the Book:

  • In Palo Alto, the first comprehensive, global history of Silicon Valley, Malcolm Harris examines how and why Northern California evolved in the particular, consequential way it did, tracing the ideologies, technologies, and policies that have been engineered there over the course of 150 years of Anglo settler colonialism, from IQ tests to the “tragedy of the commons,” racial genetics, and “broken windows” theory. The Internet and computers, too. It’s a story about how a small American suburb became a powerful engine for economic growth and war, and how it came to lead the world into a surprisingly disastrous 21st century. Palo Alto is an urgent and visionary history of the way we live now, one that ends with a clear-eyed, radical proposition for how we might begin to change course.


  • Malcolm Harris is the a freelance writer and the author of Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials; Shit is Fucked Up and Bullshit: History Since the End of History, and Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World. He lives in Washington, DC.
  • Bayley J. Marquez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park and an Indigenous scholar from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. As an Indigenous scholar, she acknowledges that her work and scholarship takes place on Piscataway land, former plantation land, and within a land grant university funded by the seizure and sale of Indigenous lands. Her work has been published in American Quarterly, Feminist Formations, and The DuBois Review and her upcoming book, Plantation Pedagogy: The Violence of Schooling Across Black and Indigenous Space,  is under contract with the University of California Press.
  • Daniel Greene is an Assistant Professor of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. His ethnographic, historical, and theoretical research explores how the future of work is built and who is included in that future. His first book, The Promise of Access: Technology, Inequality, and the Political Economy of Hope, was published by MIT Press in 2021. It received the McGannon Prize for the best book of the year on media and activism.

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