TechnAct: Research cluster on gender, sexualities, emergent communities and technocultural assemblages
Digital technologies offer tremendous possibilities for collectives such as feminist and sexual rights groups to connect across geographical distances and for new collectives to emerge. This research cluster aims to illuminate these dynamics by investigating the relation between digital technologies and emergent communities in transnational space. Attention to the connections between the digital, the social and the cultural – which we refer to as ’technocultural assemblages’ – render analytical edge to our pursuit.
Across the globe, feminist, women’s rights, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) movements struggle against local, national and transnational violence, threats and norms. In complex and dangerous ways, struggles in different part of the world are frequently affected by local constraints and national structures. Simultaneously, a colonial order is reiterated which reproduces a notion of the West as the most progressive and advanced region in relation to genders and sexualities. To be sure, constructions of place and nationality are inseparable from struggles for social justice and from the conditions of social movements, who encounter multiple and diverse power hierarchies in various locations across the globe. Yet, in civil society today, new communities and groups of collective actors emerge in transnational space through digital technologies.
Inspired by these recent transformations, this project aims to illuminate these dynamics by investigating the impact of digital technologies on civil society engagement and on social movements. Pioneering a novel interdisciplinary and comparative approach, bringing together digital research methods and multi-sited ethnography, the purpose of this research cluster is to produce new knowledge of the impact of digital technologies on civil society engagement. Areas of particular interest for the project include, but are not limited to: 1) tracing viral social media campaigns for gender and sexual rights; 2) examining the impact of digital technologies in places where possibilities for collective action in civil society are limited, as for instance in authoritarian contexts; 3) digital forms of agency, especially the role of algorithms in campaigns for gender and sexual rights; 4) ethical dilemmas, risks and new kinds of resistance that emerge as the result of digital technologies in civil society contexts.
Today, we lack knowledge of how places, nations, and borders are (re)constructed, how communities transform, and how groups of collective actors emerge through digital technologies. We know even less of the risks and ethical dilemmas that arise as a result of these practices. The TechnAct research cluster seeks to examine these, and related, dynamics by creating a cutting-edge research venture at the interface between informatics, social and cultural theory, and gender studies, connecting an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the humanities, social sciences, and technosciences. Our long-term goal is to constitute this research cluster as a key player in international feminist and technoscience studies on globalization, civil societies, gender, and sexualities.