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About the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory

The Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory brings together stories, questions, provocations and proposals from researchers, archivists, publishers, community organizers and artists grappling with the ethical challenges of

  • building equitable research relationships and reciprocal research cultures,
  • digitizing, archiving, publishing and other forms of “onlining” previously not-online minoritized cultural heritage materials and practices, and
  • researching social media and other user-generated content, networks and socialities.

Indigenous research communities are leading the fields of digital ethics, cultural protocols and heritage, archives and publishing and DREC foregrounds Indigenous knowledges and anti-colonial methods for the study and circulation—especially the online circulation—of all minoritized cultural materials. DREC emerges from Jas Rault and T.L. Cowan’s research investments in the methods, ethics and protocols developed within feminist, transgender, queer, anti-racist and critical disabilities scholarly, creative, political, social and sexual worlds. DREC understands that academic research—even justice-oriented research—is shaped by the conventions, conditions, contexts and legacies of colonial knowledge production and resource extraction.

DREC works from the recognition that the current conditions of digital scholarship—the augmented scale, reach, exposure, access—offer research communities the opportunity to defamiliarize and denaturalize our participation in long-standing systems of exploitation and to reorient our work towards non-extractive research habits, protocols and relationships.

We want DREC to be a place where research communities—people being researched as well as people doing research—talk to each other about how to build reciprocal, accountable, non-extractive, non-dispossessive research norms and values, online and offline.


DREC is supported by an Insight Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

The Trans-Feminist Queer Digital Praxes Workshop (TFQ DPW) is both a collective of, and a space for, trans- feminist queer activists, artists, audiences, writers, and researchers, working from the University of Toronto and beyond. Anchored in trans- feminist Indigenous queer of color and critical disability ethics and praxes of reciprocity and responsibility, TFQ DPW works on digital phenomena as forms and spaces of potential (and potential problems) for multi-scalar multi-disciplinary works-in-progress through collaboration and community.

Our two current projects are the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC) and Cabaret Commons. DREC is dedicated to building reciprocal, accountable, non-extractive, non-dispossessive practices and values for research in and on digital environments, and publishing short essays, conversations and experiments on these themes. The Cabaret Commons is a gathering space for TFQ artists, activists, audiences, and scholars to think, co-create, play, and share their work in multiple forms and formats.

The area where we work, at University of Toronto St. George campus, has been a site of thriving and activity for over 15,000 years, and we want to honor the relationships forged and ongoing here. This is the traditional territory of many nations including the Anishinaabe Mississaugas of the Credit, and Ojibwe peoples; the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and Wendat peoples and is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. The territory is the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, the agreement between Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples to peaceably share and care for the area around the Great Lakes region (and all the way up the St. Lawrence river). This agreement was violated through the several iterations of the Toronto Purchase, starting around 1787, again in 1805 and continuing into the 2010 Settlement, and we live with and in this violation. So for those of us who are here as guests or uninvited visitors, we want to imagine and practice ways of being good guests, of orienting our work and priorities in the direction of and in support of those who have cared for this area and these lifeways for thousands of years.


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