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  • FemTechNetA Collective Statement on Teaching and Learning Race, Feminism, and Technology
  • FemTechNet Collective (bio)

Racism and sexism are not separate entities, but are interdependent modes of domination which affect us all, for contrary to much contemporary white feminist theorizing, racism often expresses itself in sexist terms and sexism in racist terms.

Barbara Christian, “Diminishing Returns,” 215

In the spring of 2015 FemTechNet collective members broadcast the “FemTechNet Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy workbook.”1 This work first took the form of a Zotero Library collection and was built using the digital publishing platform Scalar. The workbook’s pedagogical resources are accessible to help those who choose to take on the labor-intensive work of teaching and participating in our network, labor that is voluntary and added to the existing roles of women of color and indigenous academics as teachers, scholars, mentors, activists, parents, caretakers, community members. We acknowledge the generous teacher-scholar-mentors who share their valuable work with the network that is replicated, revised, remixed.

Composed of a handful of graduate students, post-docs, new assistant professors, librarians, and alternative-academic (alt-ac) professionals, the FemTechNet Ethnic Studies Committee (now known as Situated Critical Race and Media, SCR+M) keenly felt the pressures of women of color in academia, such as the hidden labor of informal mentoring and supporting of all students, the often unacknowledged role of diversity representative, the inadequacy or absence of our own professional mentors, etc. To alleviate some of these pressures, we leverage the collective intelligence and experience of the network to collate teaching material (including syllabi, assignment prompts, in-class activities, media, and projects) to produce resources for [End Page 24] those entering the network, for those joining its labor in their own classrooms, and for those who support that work. This workbook contains videos, syllabi, readings, learning activities, and links to digital community-based learning projects contributed by teachers and researchers who center race and gender in their study of the digital, with the express purpose of giving it away.

FemTechNet’s SCR+M committee aims to integrate interdisciplinary content into scholarship by developing curricula and activities that address issues of racialization, ethnicities, power, and identity. Many of our members are also involved in social movements in academe, such as #transformdh, which critiques the digital humanities’ blind spots about race, inequality, and power differentials that arise from them. The work of critique, for us, is not enough; we also build, break, and build again.

who is femtechnet?

We are a collective of feminists. We are scholars committed to critical studies of science and technology, informed by feminism. We are committed to access, acknowledging affective and intellectual labor, and honoring the vulnerabilities of feminists regularly taking the “third shift” to perform emotional labor to support the well-being of others.2 Women of color and indigenous women experience this intensification of labor even more acutely.

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Fig. 1.

L to R: Tracy Drake, Melissa (Mel) Villa-Nicholas, and Radhika Gajjala met in November 2013 in Champaign, Illinois. Radhika came to Illinois from Bowling Green (Ohio) State University for a conference and Tracy and Mel were graduate students in a FemTechNet DOCC course at the University of Illinois. Photo by Sharon Irish.

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Digital technologies have made it compulsory to work at all times, especially in higher education where our labor is immaterial and knowledge-based. We use digital technology to ask questions about how it configures the quantified self and fails to account for “women’s time,” which Julia Kristeva defines as the “future perfect” of reproductive labor that is never valued as productive;3 “queer time,” which acknowledges the diminishing future of HIV positive and other precarious people;4 and “crip time,” which allows for the temporalities of disability.5 We examine these issues in classrooms, in research and writing, at conferences, and in conversations. We don’t claim to represent all women. We don’t celebrate technology. We invite interested people of all genders to join us.

In terms of origins, we have been meeting together, online and in person, since 2012. Launched by Anne Balsamo and Alexandra Juhasz, a small planning...


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pp. 24-41
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