Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory for Networked Intimate Publics: Storytelling, Materiality, Ethics & Praxis

DREC for Networked Intimate Publics C4P Poster

Workshop Call for Participation Deadline: Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Event Website

Organizers: T.L. Cowan, Jasmine Rault, and Veronica Paredes



In The Broken Earth trilogy, science fiction author N.K. Jemisin1 imagines a subterranean community called Castrima, a hidden place that is built and sustained by the energies and skills of the most powerful, reviled and thus most endangered specimens of humanity: the Oregens. From the surface, Castrima is invisible, buried below ruins. And underground, from the inside, Castrima looks cluttered, chaotic, disorienting: “as if someone found an architect, made her build a city out of the most beautiful materials available, then threw those buildings into a box and jumbled them up for laughs” (2015: 338). Ykka, Castrima’s Head Woman, explains, “This is what we’re trying to do here in Castrima: survive. Same as anyone. We’re just willing to innovate a little” (2015: 342). Jemisin’s speculative design of Castrima is a place made by and for minoritized subjects to protect their lives, to preserve their knowledge and cultural materials, and ensure their cultural survivance (Vizenor 2008; Tuck 2009).

This workshop will be led by former co-facilitators of the Feminist Technology Network (FemTechNet), collaborators in the Center for Solution to Online Violence (CSOV) and lead investigators of the Digital Research Ethics Collaboratory (DREC). We use the term “minoritized” from the scholarly fields of Indigenous, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, Queer, Sexuality, Trans-, Gender and Feminist Studies, to speak of populations who may not be in the minority at all – indeed, statistically form the majority population in most cases – but whose knowledges, cultural practices, histories and socialities have been consistently undermined, dismissed and rendered insignificant or troubling to the imagined majority (Ferguson 2004; Gopinath 2005; Sedgwick 1990, 2003; Smith 2010; Soto 2010). The infrastructures and networks of intimacy and distributed publicity are central technologies for the sustenance, support, thriving and survivance of minoritized people, knowledges, cultural materials, and chosen communities. These network technologies are too often situated in academic literature and popular discourse as naïvely pre-digital or non-digital, naturally occurring or innate, rather than carefully and strategically constituted, tended-to and transformed with and as new media and communication infrastructures. In this workshop we invite participants to share stories and practices for the ethical research and engagement with minoritized materials and the networked intimate publics that create them. Workshop participants will take turns leading discussions from their own research experiences in attending to the innovations in labour, arts, organizing and research through which technologies for minoritized survivance manifest and mutate.

Like so many researchers we have been caught by the fever to (digitally) archive precarious, precious, minoritized, invisibilized, intimate, forgotten knowledges, scenes, resistance cultures, materials and alternative futures. Bound by their beauty (Siberry 1989), we are also, however, bound by the institutional and platform logics that we hope these archives can transform, and by accountability to the “the people whose belongings have become [our] ‘collections’” (Nowviski 2016). Conventionalised research practices reflect longstanding and ongoing acquisitional, abductive, possessive, extractive practices that bolster these structures, especially the imperialist, settler colonial model of dehumanization, occupation, control, theft, and non-reciprocity (Kovach 2009; Moreton-Robinson 2015; Murphy 2014; Simpson 2014; Tuhiwai Smith 2012).

This workshop comes from the perspectives that all research structures–not only those primarily oriented within or towards Indigenous communities–need to be reshaped in order to decolonize and unsettle the imperialist university and to dismantle the domination habits of academic knowledge production. Starting with the important work that AoIR collaborators have already contributed to the field of Digital Research Ethics (AoIR 2002; Markham and Buchanan 2012; Zimmer & Kinder-Kurlanda 2017), we invite AoIR-affiliated scholars–especially those of digital culture and researchers building online repositories, exhibitions and other forms of publication of minoritized materials–who are trying to break the habits of extractive and possessive research and publication logics and build-while-we-work-within epistemic infrastructures that acknowledge and jumble existing hiearchives of compensation, credit, value, precarity, security and exposure. Following Jemison’s fictional Castrima, the challenge might be to defend against openness and exposure even in opposition to the institutional logics of our disciplines. This workshop will gather researchers who attend to, and attempt to translate into online information practice, the carefully cultivated tactics and cultures of privacy and counter-surveillance which were, and continue to be, necessary to the survival, and survivance, of minoritized people and cultures.

1. This is a half-day workshop. We will begin with 1 hour of presentations by the co-facilitators, followed by 1.5 hours of group workshopping current, past and future projects that participants bring to discuss, and a concluding 30 minutes drafting protocols, manifestos, best-practices and other collaborative (and future) possibilities.

2. Those interested in participating in the workshop can send us 300 words of: 1) a description of the project/s they are working on, watching or invested in, indicating how these project/s speak with or to the themes of networked intimate publics — including minoritized digital archives, refusal, extractive research, counter-surveillance, Indigenous digital archives and publishing, decolonial digital research, OR 2) a “research story,” based on an ethical dilemma they have faced in the creation of an online archive or publication, or using born-digital materials as research artefacts or subjects. Please send to DRECollaboratory [at] gmail [dot] com by July 1. Once participants have been selected, workshop co-facilitators will circulate a short reading list to accepted participants, to aid in shared terms and practices.

  1. (2015, 2016, 2017)