Biella Coleman, an assistant professor in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, received Steinhardt’s 2009 W. Gabriel Carras Research Award for her article, ‘Code is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers,’ which will appear in the journal, Cultural Anthropology in August 2009.
Coleman’s essay examines the channels through which Free and Open Source Software developers reconfigure the central tenets of the liberal tradition and the meanings of both freedom and speech-to defend against efforts to constrain their productive autonomy. Analyzing the arrests of software programmers, Jon Johansen and Dmitry Sklyarov, and the protests they provoked, Coleman shows the reader the challenges that Free and Open Source Software movement has faced in taking on intellectual property law and freedom of speech.
Coleman is an anthropologist who examines ethics and online collaboration as well as the role of the law and new media technologies in extending and critiquing liberal values and sustaining new forms of political activism. Between 2001-2003 she conducted ethnographic research on computer hackers primarily in San Francisco, the Netherlands, as well as those hackers who work on the largest free software project, Debian. Coleman is the recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.
Steinhardt’s W. Gabriel Carras Award is made to a promising young scholar in the first or second year of her pre-tenure appointment. It was established to honor W. Gabriel Caras, former associate dean for faculty affairs, who mentored and guided Steinhardt faculty during his 50-year career at NYU.
Biella Coleman (center) at Steinhardt’s 2009 Faculty Brunch Ceremony with Steinhardt Dean Mary Brabeck and Associate Dean for Research and Doctoral Studies, Perry Halkitis.