- Centering Intersectional Feminism Online: Equality Archive as Digital Humanities Praxis
Equality Archive, www.equalityarchive.com (accessed January 15, 2021).
Click, tag, read, like, share, comment, perform a diatribe, read, share, call in/out racism and misogyny in culture and politics, add photo, hide, untag, delete—these are the quotidian actions of the new generation of feminist and social justice–oriented web users, many of whom find their ways into American studies courses at colleges and universities across the country. A few years ago, the majority of young people got their news from the late-night talk shows.1 Now it happens in social media feeds.2 While often proffered as a site of equality and democracy, the internet has been an oft-critiqued site of racism and misogyny by feminist American studies scholars, such as Lisa Nakamura, Safiya Umoja Noble, micha cárdenas, and Roopika Risam, who elucidate how internet search engines and digital technologies reinscribe structural violence but also offer opportunities for resistance.3 Hashtag activism, too, has become a primary meeting ground that both connects people who may be isolated geographically into online communities and helps coordinate in-person actions with deeper impacts, such as #BlackLivesMatter, the #MeToo movement, and the many instances of the #WomensMarch.4 Central to digital humanities scholars working within the discipline of American studies (via the ASA Digital Humanities Caucus or in other interconnected and interdisciplinary ways) is developing feminist and critical race scholarship and praxis that connect online sites of resistance to on-the-ground activism, art, protest, and survival tools for vulnerable individuals.
Out of this new wave of justice-oriented projects spawns Equality Archive—a collaborative effort built by a collective of feminists—led by Shelly Eversley, assistant professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY, and Lauren Hurson, educational technologist at CUNY’s Graduate Center. This project, a digital encyclopedia of feminist knowledge, is distinctive for how it was built, deploying [End Page 195] feminist principles from the ground up: through the platform’s infrastructure, the collective arrangement of labor, the curation of intersectional and assemblage feminist topics, and the figuring of praxis as central to the role of knowledge presentation. There have been efforts in the digital humanities to decenter whiteness and promote the work of women and gender-nonconforming folks (#TransformDH, #DHPoco, #GODH, #RaceDH); however, there is still more work to be done. Projects such as Equality Archive are necessary to continue building momentum against racism and misogyny online, in the digital humanities, and in artist, activist, and academic spaces more broadly.
To get started, type “equalityarchive.com” into a web browser. You will encounter a cleanly designed organization of white background intermingling with images and black text. The logo offers the words EQUALITY ARCHIVE in all capitals, one word on top of the other—the “Q” has been transformed into the symbol used to signify “woman.” An ever-changing banner of photographs of women and nonbinary folks in various states of resistance frames the landing page. Words appear at the upper right of the screen: History, Issues, People, Participate, The Collective. These words, all clickable options, offer one way that entries are organized. Click on “History,” and you will scroll down to find a long list of important moments in feminist history. Some of these are canonical, such as “Roe vs. Wade,” “Equal Rights Amendment,” and “Sojourner Truth.” Others tell less well-known stories, such as “Georgia Gilmore,” the founder of the Club from Nowhere (a collective of black maids, service workers, and cooks who provided amenities to activists working the front lines of the civil rights movement); “Alice Bag: Hollywood Punk Scene,” a central figure in the Latinx punk scene of the late 1970s; or “Wilma Mankiller,” the first female president of the Cherokee Nation. Click on the “#NotYourSidekick” link to find a multimodal account of the elision of Asian American women and girls in mainstream feminist movements. One photograph shows female college-age students addressing the camera with a protest sign reading “We need FEMINISM b/c we’re NOT your mail order brides, the CURE to your YELLOW fever, your fantasy SEX TOYS, or your subservient housewives. We are STRONG, INDEPENDENT...