Working Bibliography: Anti-feminist violence online and transformative justice resources

I’m sharing here the helpful resource collection work of the FemTechNet network. Errors are my responsibility and I’m happy to add reader contributions.

Update 10/4: Fembot Collective and ICA respond to gamergate

Anti-Feminist Violence Online+

Association for Progressive Communications Women’s Rights Programme, “End Violence: Internet intermediaries and violence against women online”

Balsamo, Anne Marie. Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work. Durham [NC]: Duke University Press, 2011.

Blanchette, Jean-Francois, and Deborah G. Johnson. Data Retention and the Panopticon Society: The Social Benefits of Forgetfulness. SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, November 22, 1998. http://papers.ssrn.com/abstract=140048.

boyd, danah. It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, 2014.

Citron, Danielle Keats. Hate Crimes in Cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2014.

Coleman, Beth. Hello Avatar Rise of the Networked Generation. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2011.

Creative Interventions Tool Kit for addressing violence without the police http://www.creative-interventions.org/tools/toolkit/

Daniels, Jessie. Cyber Racism: White Supremacy Online and The New Attack on Civil Rights. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009.

Davis, Simone Weil, and Barbara Sherr Roswell. Turning Teaching inside out: A Pedagogy of Transformation for Community-Based Education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Dibbell, Julian. “Julian Dibbell » A Rape in Cyberspace,” 1998. http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/.

Duggan, Maeve. “Online Harassment.” Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Accessed October 27, 2014.

Englander, Elizabeth K. Bullying and Cyberbullying: What Every Educator Needs to Know. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2013.

Fox, D. L, and C Fleischer. “Beginning Words: Toward ‘Brave Spaces’ in English Education.” English Education. 37, no. 1 (2004): 3–4.

Fron, Janine, Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and Celia Pearce. “The Hegemony of Play,” 2007, 309–18.

Gajjala, Radhika, and Yeon Ju Oh. Cyberfeminism 2.0. New York: Peter Lang Pub., 2012.

Gurak, Laura. Cyberliteracy: Navigating the Internet with Awareness. New Haven, CT: Yale University, 2003.

Hardwick, J. “A Safe Space for Dangerous Ideas; A Dangerous Space for Safe Thinking” Hybrid Pedagogy, 2014,

Hinduja, Sameer K. and Justin W. Patchin. Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying. 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2015.

hooks, bell. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Levmore, Saul, and Martha Craven Nussbaum. The Offensive Internet: Speech, Privacy, and Reputation. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010.

Losh, Elizabeth. “Bodies in Classrooms: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part I.” DML Central. Accessed September 2, 2012. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/liz-losh/bodies-classrooms-feminist-dialogues-technology-part-i.

———. “Learning from Failure: Feminist Dialogues on Technology, Part II.” DMLcentral, August 9, 2012. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/liz-losh/learning-failure-feminist-dialogues-technology-part-ii.

———. “Recasting the Bullying Narrative.” DML Central: Digital Media and Learning, September 25, 2014. http://dmlcentral.net/blog/liz-losh/recasting-bullying-narrative.

Nakamura, Lisa. Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2002.

———. Digitizing Race Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=220871.

Nakamura, Lisa, and Peter Chow-White. Race after the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Technology and Confidentiality Resources Toolkit   http://tools.nnedv.org//

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011.

Tynes, Brendesha. “Internet Safety Gone Wild? Sacrificing the Educational and Psychosocial Benefits of Online Social Environments.” Journal of Adolescent Research. 22:6, 2007, 575-584.

Urgent Action Fund and Front Line Defenders, (video of panel) “What’s the point of the revolution if we can’t tweet? Women Human Rights Defenders speak out”

Warnick, Barbara. Critical Literacy in a Digital Era: Technology, Rhetoric, and the Public Interest. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2002.

Transformative Justice Bibliography

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence Community Accountability Working Document: Principles/Concerns/Strategies/Models

INCITE! Community Accountability (PDF)

Taking Risks: Implementing Grassroots Community Accountability Strategies

Creative Interventions Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Stop Interpersonal Violence

The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Violence within Activist Communities Beautiful, Difficult, Powerful: Ending Sexual Assault Through Transformative Justice

Think. Re-Think: Accountable Communities

Furthering Transformative Justice, Building Healthy Communities: An interview with Philly Stands Up

Toward Transformative Justice: A Liberatory Approach to Child Sexual Abuse and other forms of Intimate and Community Violence

Moving Beyond Critique

Philly Stands Up Portrait of Praxis: An anatomy of Accountability

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence and Critical Resistance: Statement on Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex

StoryTelling and Organizing Project – Community Responds to Domestic Violence (AUDIO)

Cultural Center Confronts Sexual Violence and Kicking Ass Part 1 & 2

A very short history of Wikipedia

The history of Wikipedia is something that has its own Wikipedia page and why wouldn’t it? The “most popular wiki on the public web in terms of page views” surely rises to level of notability required for Wikipedia entries. If you’re interested in the long history of Wikipedia, I suggest that you check out that page and the talk page. If you’re interested in a short version – read on. If you’d like to read more on the topic consider Joseph Michael Reagle Jr’s Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia and Phoebe Ayers et al’s How Wikipedia Works and How You Can Be a Part of It. The latter has an excellent set of resources like cheat sheets in addition to a great historical narrative that reaches back to the 17th century. The former is a celebratory look at the culture and community of Wikipedia. I’ll also be working on a piece on the topic with Moya Bailey, so watch for that to come.

Here’s a very short primer:

Wikipedia is one instance of a Wiki, a web-based collaborative authoring environment. There are a variety of kinds of wiki software packages, including options for public, enterprise, and personal wikis. All wikis use either a simple markup language or a rich-text editor. Wikipedia uses MediaWiki and the associated markup language; there is also a visual editor available for Wikipedia, providing users with an interface that is more like that in a word document.

While the concept behind Wikipedia is as old as 18th century encyclopedias and discussions of a free knowledge web tool were started in the 1990’s, Wikipedia as such was launched on Monday 15 January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. A not-for-profit enterprise, Wikipedia is largely run and authored by a pool of volunteer editors. The WikiMedia Foundation is a related non-profit that employs staff dedicated to “encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual, educational content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia.”

From the beginning, Wales and Sanger explored different notions of authority, credibility, and production – including beginning with Nupedia, an online encyclopedia authored by experts and designed to be rigorously peer-reviewed. That idea fell victim to some very familiar issues around time to completion (think the lag in traditional print publishing!) and limited pools of expertise. A more nimble side or “feeder” project was developed that rapidly overtook Nupedia – Wikipedia.

And so in 2001 the amazingly rapid growth of Wikipedia began. With that growth have come a number of challenges, not the least of which is the remarkably gendered participation in editing. According to the 2013 Gender Gap Revisited study, at least 84% of Wikipedians are male and 60% of editors are between the ages of 17-40, with 40% coming in at 29 years of age or below. This and other inequalities on the site, both in terms of editors (and here) and content have received press attention in the last year. Within the Wikipedia community, efforts like the Wiki Women’s Collaborative and the Teahouse have sought to address some of the issues that give rise to the disparity. Alternative wikis have also appeared, some like the Conservapedia seek to limit the influence of equity efforts and others like World Afropedia aim to address the English and Western-centric quality of English Wikipedia.

Interested in more? Wikipedia in the Classroom Resource List, Feminist Interventions, Be Bold…Skip Review, and Teaching With Wikipedia

Tips from the road: pumping breast milk while traveling (for work)

A few days before a recent trip to talk at the University of Michigan I sent inquiries out into my social media networks, asking for tips on traveling and pumping breast milk. I had hoped for a few hard won tales but got crickets instead. So, in the event that someone else asks a similar set of questions, I’m listing a few tips below. Feel free to share others in the comment thread! In case you need it, I’ve also written a “Dear Colleague” letter template that you can send to organizers in advance of your travel letting them know your needs.

- be gentle with yourself, this is crazy absurd work.

- If possible, have your milk frozen when you go through security. In my experience, TSA dip-tests every liquid individually (!) but does not dip-test frozen breast milk.

- If you don’t already have one, get a battery pack and supply cord. There are rarely outlets in planes and hand pumping didn’t work AT ALL for me.

- Ask the flight attendant if you can use the first class bathroom to pump. While this is going to depend on the individuals involved, I had good luck here.

- When you go to pump on a plane let a flight attendant know that you may be in there longer – this lets them run interference with other passengers who wonder what’s taking so long.

- Take along your preferred disinfecting wipes to clean out your equipment when you aren’t near a sink or a good spot to thoroughly wash everything.

- I took my equipment (breast shield, valves, bag attachment thingy) already assembled on the plane in a plastic bag, which gave me an area to stage set up that was relatively clean and meant for fast set up

- Arrange to have a refrigerator in your hotel room if that’s where you’re staying while traveling.

- Pack plenty of your favorite storage containers and cooling technologies – I used the small storage bags because I could pump directly into them and lay them flat in the freezer for easy stacking for the return trip. I also used the flexible freezer packs in order to fit more into my cooler bag.

-According to sources at a breast milk bank, milk can be stored in a refrigerator for 7 days if you have one at your hotel. If a freezer is available, it can be frozen and taken on a plane with some blue ice blocks. The preceding isn’t medical advice so for more on breast milk storage and use see the CDC’s guidelines and/or KellyMom discussions.

- Check with your airline for guidelines on carrying breast milk on vs. checking it

- As always, drink a ton of water – air travel dehydrates and those are much needed fluids!

Good luck and feel free to share other tips and to share this widely with friends.

“Not a problem” – breastfeeding in academic workplaces

I’m emerging from a period of relative digital dormancy and there’s a lot to talk about (a new job, family, location, and research). I want to start with a post about things that have gone right lately – in particular, the support I’ve received in academic settings as a breastfeeding mom. In 2013 Miriam Posner wrote about the needs of breastfeeding and/or breastmilk producing moms at academic events and I followed up by providing a template of a “Dear Colleague” letter for use in communicating those needs. Both Miriam and I had recently had children at that point and we’d both run into the difficulties that many women face when trying to balance work and this particular set of needs (I’m also a big advocate for a tumblr called “Feeding the Baby” that was motivated by the desire to build support for all people feeding infants, regardless of the methods).

When I was invited to interview at Arizona State University (the new job), our second daughter was less than a month old and I was immediately concerned about travel and the rigors of a day long campus visit. In accepting the invitation to interview I was very upfront with ASU administration about my needs: I would travel with the baby, I needed someone to care for her during the day of the visit, and I needed to be able to breastfeed her – both on a schedule and on demand if necessary.

While I’m generally very comfortable being clear about needs, this wasn’t particularly easy. My partner and I spent time talking about how to handle the situation – was I really able to interview at this time? Could he instead take both the toddler and an infant alone, as I would do when he interviewed the week before? Was asking for accommodation going to sink my prospects? If I were to ask, what was reasonable?

I was in an incredibly privileged position – I had a wonderful tenure-track job at Scripps College and I had been invited to interview at ASU. I was in a position to say “if they can’t handle breastfeeding, then I don’t know that I want to work there.” A great many people are not in such circumstances. At the same time, I was very excited about the opportunities and I was eager not to have it all fall apart. I chose to travel with baby and steeled myself for any potential consequences.

When I asked for help with childcare and nursing needs the response was a good, if somewhat frustrating one: “I’ve never dealt with that before, but we’ll see what can be done.” The commitment by the administration to support me as a new mom was good and it came without hesitation. I was relieved. At the same time, there are a host of problems with the sense that this was a novel problem – it is symptomatic of a national and academic culture that acts as if motherhood is an aberration in the workforce and that limits the possibilities for women who want to work and have families. It would have been even better to offer a more affirmative “we will do what it takes” instead of “we’ll see what we can do,” which I feared was going to be nothing.

Nevertheless, this got done right this time. I was reimbursed for childcare (I did have to find that on my own) and I had a private room in the English department in which to breastfeed my daughter. My schedule included time to nurse and I was able to give the woman who cared for our daughter my room location and schedule ahead of time. This meant that when the baby needed to eat halfway through my formal interview, she was able to bring her to me. I nursed right there while talking with five or six colleagues about my research and teaching. It spoke volumes that no one batted an eye. I was supported by my future department and institution in ways that made it possible for me to successfully interview during an incredibly challenging moment in my life.

I’m happy to say that this has been a consistent experience since my arrival at ASU. During new employee sessions the Human Resources staff went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and offered access to an established “private room” and a private office when that room was occupied. Every time I’ve asked for accommodation during an event like our fall retreat, receptions, and information sessions people have immediately responded with access to private rooms that have locked doors, power outlets, and a place to sit – when necessary, refrigeration has also been provided.

It’s been really wonderful and I applaud ASU. What remains frustrating is that this shouldn’t be something worth marking – such support should ALWAYS be in place. Miriam and I wrote last year because my experience is not particularly common. I’ve had to personally intervene in other settings to ensure that women can store breastmilk at day-long events (no, breastmilk is not a biohazard) or to point out to colleagues that women shouldn’t be penalized by missing out on large blocks of events (or, heaven forbid career opportunities) because they need to provide for a child.

The response to the requests of a breastfeeding or breastmilk producing mother should always be the one I got from Patrick Tonk when I asked for similar help while giving a talk at the University of Michigan’s Data, Social Justice, and Humanities event: “not a problem.”

One final note – I’ve largely spoken in terms of “the ASU administration” because the consistency of the response to my needs demonstrates an institutional commitment to supporting women. At the same time, I am acutely aware that “the administration” that I engaged with was made up of individuals dedicated to supporting women – so thanks to George Justice, Matthew Garcia, Mark Lussier, Karen Silva, the HR staff on the Tempe campus, and many of the staff in the Dean of Faculty’s office for your support.

Feminist Digital Humanities: Theoretical, Social, and Material Engagements around Making and Breaking Computational Media

Here’s our Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) course

Elizabeth Losh, University of California, San Diego

Jacque Wernimont, Scripps College

Although there is a deep history of feminist engagement with technology, projects like FemTechNet argue that such history is often hidden and feminist thinkers are frequently siloed. In order to address this, the seminar will offer a set of background readings to help make visible the history of feminist engagement with technology, as well as facilitate small-scale exploratory collaboration during the seminar.

Our reading selections bring a variety of feminist technology critiques in Media Studies, Human-Computer Interaction, Science and Technology Studies, and related fields into conversation with work in Digital Humanities. Each session is organized by a keyword – a term that is central to feminist theoretical and practical engagements with technology – and will begin with a discussion of that term in light of our readings. The remainder of each session will be spent learning about and tinkering with Processing, a programming tool that will allow participants to engage in their own critical making processes.

Pushing against instrumentalist assumptions regarding the value and efficacy of certain digital tools, we will be asking participants to think hard about the affordances and constraints of digital technologies. While we will be engaging with a wide range of tools/systems in our readings and discussions, we anticipate that the more hands-on engagement with Processing will help participants think about operations of interface, input, output, and mediation. In addition to the expanded theoretical framework, participants can expect to come away with a new set of pedagogical models using Processing that they can adapt and use for teaching at their own institutions.

 

A couple of notes:

There are a handful of items that are listed here that did not make it into the coursepack – we will be making digital/paper copies available as needed.

 

The syllabus is organized around a series of keywords. Our daily schedule will involve 1-2 hours of discussion of the readings in light of our keyword of the day, discussions of the making/breaking sessions of the previous day, a short intro to a technology or tool and then some tinkering. The “reference texts” are not included in the reader – we will bring copies of these for participants to refer to as needed.

 

We’ve tried to keep the reading load manageable and encourage everyone to read these pieces well in advance of our discussions.

 

 

Outline of work

 

Day one: Code, Feminist Critiques of Code Culture

 

Wendy Chun, “Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory”

http://aestech.wikischolars.columbia.edu/file/view/Hui%20Kyong%20Chun–the_enduring_ephemeral_or.pdf/442522752/Hui%20Kyong%20Chun–the_enduring_ephemeral_or.pdf

 

- selections from Programmed Visions “Invisibly Visible, Visibly, Invisible” and “On Sourcery and Source Code”

 

Annette Vee, “Text, Speech, Machine…” in Computational Culture

http://computationalculture.net/article/text-speech-machine-metaphors-for-computer-code-in-the-law

 

– “Coding Values in Enculturation”http://enculturation.gmu.edu/node/5268

 

Tara McPherson, “U.S. Operating Systems at Mid-Century” in Race After the Internet

 

Critical Code Studies – Basic Language Rules in Processing

 

Reference Texts:

Getting Started with Processing

Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists

 

Day Two: Play, Feminist Game Studies

 

Mary Flanagan Critical Play: Radical Game Design (Introduction, Ch. 2. “Playing House” (17-62) and and Ch. 7 “Critical Computer Games” (222-249).

 

Janine Fron, Tracy Fullerton, Jacquelyn Ford Morie, and Celia Pearce,  “The Hegemony of Play

http://lmc.gatech.edu/~cpearce3/PearcePubs/HegemonyOfPlayFINAL.pdf

 

Reference Text: The Nature of Code: Simulating Natural Systems with Processing

 

Day Three: Discipline/Access, Feminist Critiques of Technoculture

 

Anne Balsamo, “Feminism for the Incurably Informed,” Ch. 6 in Technologies of the Gendered Body

 

N. Katherine Hayles, “Prologue: Computing Kin,” in My Mother Was a Computer  “Prologue” and “Toward Embodied Virtuality,” in How We Became Posthuman

 

Lisa Nakamura on labor of women of color in tech manufacturing (to be provided)

 

Reference Text: Arduino Cookbook

 

Day Four: Program, Feminism and Theories of the Media Apparatus

 

Lisa Parks on drone vision: “Zeroing In: Overhead Imagery, Infrastructure Ruins, and Datalands in Afghanistan and Iraq” Ch. 14 in The Visual Culture reader, 3rd Ed., ed. Nicholas Mirzoeff, Routledge 2012

 

Lucy Suchman, “Preface,” “Introduction,” “Interactive Artifacts,” “Plans,” and “Situated Actions” Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication

 

–“Human/Machine Reconsidered,” published by the Department of Sociology, Lancaster University at http://www.comp.lancs.ac.uk/sociology/soc040ls.html

 

Genevieve Bell and Paul Dourish “Contextualizing Ubiquitous Computing,” in Divining a Digital Future

 

Nina Lykke, Randi Markussen, and Finn Olesen, “There are Always More Things Going On Than You Thought!”: Methodologies as Thinking Technologies: Interview with Donna Haraway” Bits of Life: Feminism at the Intersections of Media, Bioscience, and Technology.

 

Reference Text: Making Things See: 3D vision with Kinect, Processing, Arduino, and MakerBot

 

Day five: Archive, Feminist DH Projects

 

Julia Flanders & Jacqueline Wernimont, “Feminism in the Age of Digital Archives”

 

Watch: Amy Earhart on obsolescence in feminist DH projects,

“Recovering the Recovered Text” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ui9PIjDreo

Bethany Nowviskie “What Girls Dig”

http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/static/debates/text/3
Reference Text: Visualizing Data: Exploring and Explaining Data with the Processing Environment

 

Gendered Risk: Feminist Programming

I recently heard Audrey Bilger of Claremont McKenna’s Center for Writing and Public Discourse talk about the ways that social media can help bring certain feminist issues to the fore – in her example, the exclusions of women of color from mainstream feminist movements by way of the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag. While a lot went wrong in the mainstream coverage of that story, including the elision of Mikki Kendall’s role in initiating the conversation, it is true that a social media event helped to continue an important conversation

At the same time, the recent furor over Twitter’s user blocking policy change and then quick reversal reminds us that social media spaces are also sites of potential threat and abuses, where stalkers and trolls often are able to work with relative impunity. Women are systematically harassed not only in media venues, but in online gaming and knowledge building communities as well. There is a reason that less than 10% of Wikipedia editors are women. Things don’t look much better from the tech infrastructure side either – as HASTAC director Cathy Davidson notes, the number of women entering the field of computer science has declined since 1993.

Enter into this space Arielle Schlesinger’s “Feminism and Programming” blog on HASTAC. Schlesinger’s questions are important – how do we abstract in non-normative ways? What would it mean to encode our knowledge and to shape our interfaces in ways that would recognize differences through non-binary paradigms? Is it possible to imagine a feminist programming language? What is at stake in Schlesinger’s research are life opportunities – the ability to inhabit digital and analog spaces without having to sacrifice some fundamental part of your life or your being. Sound hyperbolic? It’s not. Our tools mediate every part of our lives and our ways of being. The logic of our (computing) systems can inhibit thinking through questions of race, class, and gender, as Tara McPherson suggests, and these compartmentalized habits of thought inform our everyday lives.

The question that Schlesinger’s research asks then, is how can our technologies – here programming languages – be less violent, do less violence? It is a practical and ethical question of great importance. I’m delighted that Schlesinger is raising it in her work and in a public space like HASTAC. I’m also heartened by the wonderful responses – many by computer scientists/programmers – in that forum. There is an opportunity for some powerful engagement and thinking to occur.

At the same time, however, Schlesinger has now become a target – while HASTAC conversations have been productive, those on Reddit and 4chan have not been. Schlesinger has become a target on Twitter as well. As is so typical these days, a parody of the project, under the name “Feminist Software Foundation” attempts to undermine a genuine conversation. Consequently, Schlesinger’s efforts to bring her research into a public discussion teach us again about the gendered risks entailed in public intellectualism and open inquiry. For some – it isn’t entirely safe to even ask a question

Want to follow the conversation? #femtech. Working bibliography on this topic.

Feminist Programming – collecting resources

The FemTechNet group recently discussed a question posed by Pitzer College student Ari Schlesinger on the topic of feminist programming – it’s a topic related to my work on feminist markup and digital architectures, so I read the discussion with interest. What follows are some of the ideas that arose in the discussion  – gathered here as a way of starting a kind of bibliography. I have a previous post on Feminism and Technology that is also a bibliography. I’m also hopeful that this post will operate as a space of further discussion on the topic. Thanks for the great thinking go to the many members of FemTechNet network who contributed to the discussion – I’ve edited to make this more of a working bibliography, rather than a transcript of the conversation.

Ari’s question paraphrased: if object oriented programming reifies normative subject object theory, what would a feminist programming language look like? Are there possibilities within imperative, functional, or logical programming languages that would enable feminist programming?

Ari was already thinking about Karen Barad’s work in Posthumanist Performativity and about feminist logics.

Barad, Karen. “Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Vol. 28, No. 3. (1 March 2003), pp. 801-831

also: Barad, Karen. Posthumanist performativity : Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. In Deborah Orr (ed.), Belief, Bodies, and Being: Feminist Reflections on Embodiment. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (2006).

Work and ideas that came up in the ensuing discussion:

In conversation with Barad:

–Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska, Life After New Media, MIT Press, 2012.

–Anne Balsamo, Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work, Duke UP, 2011.

Tara McPherson’s work on Scalar, discussed in a forthcoming article in Difference.  (A talk version is here:
http://mith.umd.edu/podcasts/tara-mcpherson-scholarship-beyond-database/ ).

Zach Blas and his Queer Technologies / transCoder project

–with Micha Cardenas http://transreal.org/imaginary-computational-systems-queer-technologies-and-transreal-aesthetics/

Micha Cardenas and others in http://transreal.org/media-n-journal-2013-caa-conference-edition/ and http://www.e-fagia.org/digievent/2011/tx/michaElle.html

Maria Fernandez, Faith Wilding, and Michelle M. Wright, Domain Errors, (Autonomedia, 2003)

Caludia Reiche and Verena Kuni, eds. Cyberfeminism: Next Steps (Autonomedia, 2004)

Kim Christen’s work on Mukurtu as feminist/anti-imperialist approach to database design

Thinking about differences between in analog and digital computers in Wendy Chun’s work

“Fuzzy logic:” looking at measures of information as the continuum between 0 and 1 rather than the binary,

–connected to French Feminism  Kristeva, Cixous, Irigiray, Wittig.

–see work of  Margaret Homans, introduction and opening chapter in Bearing the Word (Chicago UP, 1989).

Information Theory from a feminist perspective (new area to explore)

Liz Losh and I will be teaching a Feminist DH course at DHSI this summer, utilizing Processing, which is worth checking out as arising from a different paradigm.

Melissa Terras on the Text Encoding Initiative (markup protocols) (need the url)

I’m sure that there is more that is worth bringing into the discussion – please post a comment if you have thoughts!

Spring 2014 Teaching Opportunity

Scripps College, a women’s liberal arts college with a strong interdisciplinary tradition, invites applications for one or two visiting lecturers to co-teach with a faculty member who will be on leave for part of the spring 2014 semester. The courses to be taught are the Junior Seminar in Literary Theory, and Women and the Writing of Science, which has an early modern focus. Course descriptions can be found here: http://jwernimont.wordpress.com/current-courses/.

Ph. D. preferred, ABD required. College teaching experience required. Send application letter, CV, and two letters of reference by November 8, 2013 to:

Search Chair, Professor Jacqueline Wernimont

Box 1048

Scripps College

1030 Columbia Ave.

Claremont, CA 91711

jwernimo@scrippscollege.edu

Scripps College is one of seven members of The Claremont Colleges Consortium located 35 miles east of Los Angeles.  In a continuing effort to build a diverse academic community and to provide equal educational and employment opportunities, Scripps College actively encourages applications from women and members of historically under-represented groups.

Not (Re)Covering Feminist Methods in Digital Humanities

NB: this is a new title for my short position paper that was part of the Excavating Feminisms panel at DH2013. I’m a participant in Early Modern Digital Agendas at the Folger Library in DC and unable to be also in Nebraska. I was lucky to have Miriam Posner read on my behalf. I should note that I kept this intentionally short and polemical because we designed our panel to spur a larger discussion.

My initial proposal for this position paper asserted that “feminist theory seems to be woefully absent from digital humanities interventions, despite the number of literary archival project that began from a feminist impulse of one sort or another.” In the intervening year since I wrote that proposal, my thoughts on this have shifted a great deal.

In a piece in the forthcoming issue of DHQ, I discuss the difficulties of describing any particular DH project as feminist. The challenges arise not from a lack of feminist engagement in digital humanities work, quite the opposite is true, but rather in the difficulty tracing political, ideological, and theoretical commitments in work that involves so many layers of production.

Put rather simply – the systems and networks from which DH projects arise are wickedly complex. Perhaps a bit more contentiously – the complexity of those networks has enabled narratives of digital humanities that elide the feminist work that is foundational to the field.

A feminist scholar might consider the workflows and organizational structures of DH projects, networks of authority and expertise engaged and produced by the project, or the interface or data structures.

Or a scholar might think in terms of content, canon revision, and historical recovery. This last area is perhaps the most traditional approach to understanding DH work as feminist – gender-based digital projects afford users the thrill and affirmation of having “women’s countless contributions to Western culture and society made visible.”[1] There is little doubt that such projects make texts available for reading, research, criticism, and teaching in ways that the print industry is increasingly unable to do.

But to focus on recovery of content is to miss the absolutely elemental feminist contributions to technical and human infrastructure with digital humanities.

Today’s session is a roundtable and we’ve agreed to put forth a position in our short papers. Here is mine: the familiarity of recovery-style projects has focused attention in unproductive ways, both in terms of our understanding of individual projects and in the ways we talk about what DH is and what it is missing.

Recovery – in both the colloquial and legal senses suggests a return of something lost or perhaps of a person restored. But feminist work within digital humanities and its related disciplines has not gone missing, it is not lost, nor has it been languishing in some metaphorical sick-bed. Quite the opposite is true – feminist making, thinking, tinkering, and critiquing have been vibrantly part of our development of interfaces, databases, markup standards, usability assessments, archive building, and technology theorizing.

If we think that feminist intervention has been lost or perhaps absent, it is only by way of origin tales and disciplinary histories that actively dis-member the field. Does this mean that we shouldn’t push for more – more feminist critique, more feminist making, more feminist engagements? No – I want to see a great deal more.

But I think we do ourselves a great disservice if we articulate the feminist position within DH as one of lack – that is an imaginative recreation. One that fails to engage in the difficult task of understanding how and to what ends we locate feminist work within digital projects. One that rewrites the history of our fields as “man and his tools” – in effect, creating the very effacement that feminist scholarship seeks to redress. Arguing that we need to recover the work of feminists and women within the many interdisciplinary zones that constitute digital humanities re-covers /covers up the long and lively history of engagement, creation, and critique that is already there.


[1] Susan Fraiman. “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens—With Help from a New Digital Resource for Literary Scholars,” Modern Philology, August 2008, 142-48

Access and the LA Makerspace

This is one of series of guest-posts by Beatriz Maldonado, who is working on a 3D printing + literature research project this summer.

LA Makerspace Imageis a non-profit community space located in the Los Angeles Mart Building. According to their website, their mission “is to provide a place where youth can make and learn alongside adults and where members can work on their own projects while learning new, unique maker skills through our workshops, on-going interest-based programs, mentorship, and peer learning environment.” I became very excited the day my professor told me about LA Makerspace and the workshops that it hosts about 3D printing, computer programming, and other amazing technological opportunities. It all sounded so inspiring and revolutionary that I immediately looked up their website for more details.

As I was searching through the LA Makerspace’s website, I found the Calendar of Events, and my stomach instantly dropped when I saw the cost of a day pass workshop: $20. I thought, “well this is OK, because I would be learning about some high tech stuff…” But it didn’t take long for that first feeling of disappointment to return; I thought “but with fifteen dollars I could buy lunch for my family, or buy groceries, or fill up my mom’s car for once.” What’s more, the fact that my family has not gone to the Getty Museum because of their intimidating $15 dollar parking pass requirement meant that I couldn’t, in good conscience, attend any of the LA Makerspace workshops. There is just something about double digits that petrify my family and myself. However, I managed to find a free event on the same day my professor first mentioned the organization.

Planning to attend an LA Makerspace Workshop

Before I left Scripps to head to the workshop, I planned the public transportation routes I would take. The workshop was held on a Wednesday – the day when my mom takes my brother to his soccer practice, after picking him up from school and making dinner for the family first, of course. I did not want to complain about the time the event (from 6-8pm), because I was already grateful that the event was free. However, I knew that this time (in which all these other events were happening) would complicate things for my mom at the moment of picking me up. Worse still, before leaving I noticed that my phone was dying, which was problematic because my phone is the only way to contact my mom. When my mom goes out of the house and I am out of the house, and my phone is not working … well let’s just say chaos is the most likely outcome. With my phone not working and her busy schedule already set, I was a bit anxious about how I was going to reach her when the event was over.

Feeling out of Place

When I finally reached the location, I was more than surprised to find it in the LA Mart. Not that I had ever been inside the Mart, but it was interesting to find this building located a block away from the local community college, Los Angeles Trade Tech, and right across from the Blue Line subway. This is, in some ways, my neighborhood. Really, the location seemed relatively accessible. I was very happy for that fact…until I entered the main lobby.

Everything looked creative when I got there…I loved the space of handmade toys and devices, the various books on the table that linked to what Prof. Jacque and I had been working on (such as 3D Printing). I looked around for a couple of minutes…and then I felt distinctly out of place. I did not really have a particular motive or goal to accomplish; I was there to experience the space and its resources. Friendly faces and smiles welcomed me, but none motivated me to strike up a conversation. When I headed to the back of the office, I saw a mother and her son talking to one of the members of the makerspace. I tried to tune into their conversation for a bit, but I really could not follow what they were saying. I wanted to chime in and ask a question.

Suddenly, I began to feel a wave of many emotions. I felt as though I did not belong there. I felt alone and small. I felt jealous because I saw a mother and her child there interacting with one of the workers. Whenever people ask my parents what I am doing over the summer, their response remains as “my daughter is working at her university” because they do not fully understand what research means. As a result, I’m not accustomed to discussing my work – even though I am proud of the research my professor and I are working on. That mother and son were sharing their exploration of technology – my parents and I don’t have the same kinds of moments over my research.

I gathered my courage and started talking with someone about the 3D printers they had there. After a while, she let me know that the free workshop I was there to attend was outside. I headed down to the parking lot for the workshop, and I have to admit that my sense of not belonging did not get better from there.

Everyone was white. That seems a bit direct and perhaps inappropriate – but that was the first thought that came to my mind. I did not see a person of color, other than, well, myself. I did appreciate how polite everyone was. They encouraged me to make my own creative crafts there and to use a material called VELCRO because the craft could stick to the LA Makerspace Mobile Van they had. ImageI was embarrassed because I did not know what Velcro even was. The only arts and crafts I had ever come across consisted of colored construction paper with squiggly scissors and glue. After cruising around the materials table twice, not even taking 10 minutes, I knew I wanted and needed to go home. Seeing that my phone was dead, I had to figure out my way back. It wasn’t hard, but my mom had been anxious not knowing where I was.

“It was fun,” I replied to my mom when she asked how it went. And I had not lied, I just felt…uncomfortable. I started thinking about how accessible LA Makerspace is on the one hand, but the access is invisible for those in the neighboring communities. The LA Mart is in one of the most diverse areas of Los Angeles. I remember going by the LA Mart building with my family, but never really knowing what was inside. I had never known about it until my professor mentioned it. Nor am I likely to be back inside anytime soon given the costs for workshops. It is in my neighborhood, but not part of it.

I know that many of my friends from the same neighborhood search for free events, like the one I attended. I understand that as a consumer/user/visitor, I have to be ready to make the journey to take advantage of free events – it’s great that LA Makerspace has some events that my friends and I can attend. At the same time, I am trying to figure out how the community and spaces like this can work together and to understand the importance of spaces like this one having free events available. I find myself asking: Why must we attend and learn about ‘making’? How could community members contribute to the space and its work?

My experience has taught me that accessibility is a complicated idea. There were limitations as much as there were chances to learn and interact with others. Free events must exist to create the space available for everyone no matter what. But this isn’t just about cost – it is necessary to recognize other factors in place such as date/time and transportation in order to make resources really accessible to a wide range of people. My time at the Makerspace gave me a new awareness of things I had never thought about before (such as making a craft and sticking it onto a moving vehicle). I may have left too early to discover how I could give back or involve myself more, yet I knew I would not have done the contribution humbly. I didn’t feel at home. The exposure to this type of environment seemed so invaluable, but I feel that some of that value wasn’t accessible to me.

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