Category: race

#iwomi and feminist actions

I’m currently somewhere 35,000 feet in the air, roughly over Kansas, making my way back home from the International Workshop on Misogyny and the Internet, aka #iwomi. When working to address violence against feminists, the very act of meeting can be both radical and dangerous. While an event in an elite setting in the U.S. is probably less at risk than meetings of feminists elsewhere, there’s a lot to be said for creating safe and brave spaces. To that end, we met under Chatham House rule, in which “participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.” Concerned about issues of intellectual appropriation, we also operated under a consent request policy that required that we ask first before communicating outward about ideas articulated by another participant. We also put down our devices for much of the meeting in order to fully engage with one another.

Consequently, there is little real time information that came out of the meeting and I will be intentionally vague in my reporting out here where it concerns other people – mostly I’ll speak just about what I did while there as a way to render myself accountable and to respect the Chatham rule.

I’m not comfortable with the repetition of ‘I’ in this following list, so I’ll say it just once here.
I:

    learned that the gulf between what diversity looks like in academic meetings and in intersectional feminist spaces is enormous
    came to understand that the challenges our various initiatives face are not the same (not everyone needs more money/time in the way that many academics feel we do)
    saw that there is an AMAZING amount of work already being done to address violence against women/girls/people online
    saw that the work of not making discussions U.S.-centric is hard but necessary
    collaborated on a manifesto regarding “intersectional data”
    heard that if we could just train 100 women across the world to train other women about digital security and identity we would have a huge impact
    heard that women can (should?) do more to engage with industry, politics, governance on these topics
    dispaired that we have to keep explaining to others that digital life *is* real life
    learned about affordances and barriers to coalition work
    witnessed and appreciated some very intentional feminist engagements by men, which I see very little of in academic settings
    witnessed, appreciated, and participated in a lot of very intentional feminist engagements involving women and non-binary and gender queer folks
    engaged and worked hard on active listening and was not perfect
    experienced optimism, pessimism, curiosity, sorrow, humility, laughter, and joy
    was comfortably uncomfortable at times
    learned that an effective moderator is an invaluable asset
    learned that a stack or progressive stack is a really great meeting tool

As our collective work becomes public, I’ll share more of it here and across social media.

Addressing Antifeminist Violence Online: Work Narrative

Need
According to a recent Pew Study, 1 in 4 women have experienced online stalking or sexual harassment. Labeled as “social justice warriors,” prominent journalists, media makers, and bloggers have been harassed and threatened for writing about economic inequality, education, and racism in popular culture. The culture of fear that is being created impacts not just professionals, but more perniciously, young women and men who are developing their habits and protocols for online life. From advanced professionals to adolescents, feminists and women are at risk.

Much of this violence has been perpetrated online, but threats like these can move into offline, “real” life. In October, Sarkeesian canceled a talk at Utah State University after receiving a massacre threat inspired by the 1989 Marc Lepine murder of fourteen women. Many people, including women of color and trans people, have experienced threats, harassment, and the distribution of their location and contact information by people hoping to silence their voices. These violations of privacy and personal safety can morph into physical violence.

Harassment and threats of physical violence drive women offline. Declining numbers of women in computer science professions and degree programs is just one example of a trend that threatens to undermine efforts to reduce barriers for connected learning and digital engagement. In addressing online harassment, this project will safeguard gains made by other organizations and ensure that future efforts to overcome legal, technological, economic, and physical barriers can be sustained. We seek to ensure that women who participate in our connected culture do not have to trade physical and psychological security for access to digital resources and communities. We will be addressing not only issues of gender, but also of race, sexuality, and ability. Consequently, our resources will help with some facets of harassment that LGBT community members face as well.

Response
Our project will develop critical resources to establish and support resilient communities that can limit harm preemptively and respond to harassment effectually when necessary. If we are to stop the flight of women from connected work, education, and entertainment then we must put into place the means to combat out of control harassment. The central focus of this proposal is the development of educational and informational resources that will enable educators and advocates to ensure that connected learning and engagement can proceed even in the face of hostility and harassment. Connected learning breaks down if feminists and women of all ages feel unsafe in digital spaces; we can’t end online harassment, but we can ensure that everyone has the tools necessary to maximize the safety of learners and their data.

We will begin with a private summit in July 2015 to develop our production agenda, assign projects, and further develop collaborative ties amongst our networks. This in-person meeting will ensure even and rapid production of materials and events across the distributed network. We include a private retreat for feminists of color in order to develop resources that acknowledge the ways in which race and gender come together to shape responses that are needed for women to have more safety and autonomy online. Structures of power and privilege organize and inform digital engagement in ways that can obliterate trust; our in person meeting is designed to ensure that we have a cohesive, coherent, intersectional, and ethical approach to addressing anti-feminist violence.

While the content will be collaboratively determined in the summit and will be team designed and produced, we do know that we want content in the following areas/of the following kinds:

  • Understanding how algorithms, social sharing, and information retrieval works
  • Proactive personal data management as a necessary part of digital life
  • Systems for documenting & responding to threats w/minimal impact on the person experiencing the threat
  • Action and safety plans in the event of a threat
  • Best practices for addressing various kinds of threat
  • Key terms glossary for violence online
  • Existing local and national resource links
  • Four video dialogues (Each dialogue will feature two discussants and a moderator and will focus on a keyword. Possible keyword topics for the videos include anti-feminist violence, racist violence, harm reduction, transformative justice, community or collective defense, digital security/privacy, and trolling)

Our content structure is inspired by the nodal structure of FemTechNet, individual and institutional users can deploy our materials to address local needs with robust support structures throughout the year. This allows us to develop a coherent national network to address harassment, while also empowering local groups to tailor their use of our educational materials. In addition, the project team represents participants from diverse geographic locations and professions, thus allowing for broad dissemination of the resources.

We plan to ensure that our digital “product” is in fact a living, constantly developing, responsive resource that will be accessible well beyond the scope of our DML Trust Challenge grant. Additionally, we will host two public online teach-ins in the second half of the year and monthly “open online office hours” to be staffed with experienced scholars and support professionals.

Background
FemTechNet has been a leader in online and distributed education with the highly successful Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC). In addition to extensive presence within accredited institutions, the DOCC includes community courses and self-directed learners who access the resources, materials, tools, and communities online. With these experiences in virtual, blended, and face-to-face classrooms, FemTechNet is uniquely situated to be able to educate and serve online feminist learning communities. We have a well-developed content structure, including high-quality video dialogues, as well as a system for holding teach-ins and open online office hours. Our distributed model of online education also facilitates peer-to-peer connections, thereby strengthening and expanding the level of communal engagement possible with this project.

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.

Claremont Summer DH Fellows positions

Mellon Digital Research and Scholarly Communication Fellow

Claremont Center for Digital Humanities, Claremont University Consortium

With the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Claremont Center for Digital Humanities offers three Digital Research and Scholarly Communication Summer Fellowships to begin June 2013. Research Fellows will join our pilot project to develop a digital learning and research resource on the work of Edward S. Curtis.

We are particularly interested in individuals whose work focuses on the following areas central to the project: 20th century American history, race in the Americas, native American removal and/or contemporary culture, the history of photography and/or documentary technology. Successful candidates will be able to speak to the affordances and challenges of digital tools and technology for engaging with the above areas of interest. While we are not looking for a specific technical skill, we are looking to bring in scholars who are conversant with uses of digital technology in humanities research and the fields of Digital Humanities, broadly conceived.  We will be authoring our digital resource in Scalar and will train, if necessary.

The project is based in Claremont, Ca at the Center for Digital Humanities, which is housed in the Honnold-Mudd Library. Fellowships will run from early June to August 31, 2013. Fellows will be asked to commit the equivalent of 20 hours/week of work for 11 weeks. The maximum stipend is $5,000.00. While we prioritize in-person collaboration, we also recognize that we are employing emerging scholars who may already have research and conference commitments. Schedules will be set in collaboration with the project lead. While the fellowship is for the summer only, there may be further collaborative opportunities for Fellows, including conference presentation and publication.

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  •  Assist in the development and implementation of a digital learning and research resource on the work of Edward S. Curtis.
  •  Contribute area expertise to the pilot project – this may be in the form of technical, pedagogical design, scholarly communication, or content expertise.
  •  Collaborate with project faculty and staff to write content for the resource. All fellows will be listed as co-authors on the publication.
  •  Contribute to the write up of the project white papers, documentation, and final report.

To Apply: Please send a letter of interest detailing areas of expertise and a current C.V. to Jacque Wernimont at jwernimo@scrippscollege.edu by May 27th.

 

Claremont University Consortium, Claremont Center for Digital Humanities

The Claremont Center for Digital Humanities is a consortial effort of the seven institutions of the Claremont Colleges (Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona, Claremont McKenna, Claremont Graduate University, and Keck Graduate Institute). Housed in the Honnold-Mudd library, CCDH goals are to transform teaching and research in Claremont through the use of digital technologies and methods and the creation of a community of digital scholarly practice. The center is currently in the planning phase and is developing robust relationships with local faculty, as well as with other southland Digital Humanities centers and initiatives. The pilot project for the center is designed to highlight the unique expertise of Claremont faculty and our outstanding special collections holdings. This project also demonstrates our commitment to engaging groups and topics currently under-represented in Digital Humanities scholarship.

Claremont University Consortium (CUC) is the central coordinating and support organization for a highly regarded cluster of seven independent colleges known as The Claremont Colleges located in Southern California. CUC is a nationally recognized educational model for academic support, student support and institutional support services to meet the needs of 6,300 students and 2,300 faculty and staff.