Reconfiguring Computing Through Cyberfeminism and New Materialism: GeDIS research project for network consolidation and methodological innovation

This project is supported by the grant from the Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst (HMWK) and specifically the research focus on „Dimensionen der Kategorie Geschlecht - Frauen- und Geschlechterforschung in Hessen“

Project convenor: Goda Klumbyte, 

The main objective of this research project is to revisit the dominant modes and practices of knowledge and artefact production in computer science through cyberfeminist and feminist new materialist lenses, and to produce innovative theoretical and methodological approaches in computing based on this revision. This will entail interrogating the power differentials embedded in computing technologies, and critically examining the epistemological frameworks that underpin computer science. Namely, it asks: what are the underlying conceptual notions in computer science and how do they (re)produce power dynamics? How are computer science theories gendered? How can insights from feminist new materialist and cyberfeminist perspectives help re-contextualize the methodologies and theories that are commonplace in computing?

The project will look at three bodies of thought as sources for methodological and theoretical innovation in computing: theoretical premises and practices of cyberfeminism; the new developments in feminist science and technology studies and feminist philosophy, namely the research that has been clustering under the banner of “new materialism”; and critical and feminist computing. This will entail investigating cyberfeminist activist and theoretical work as well as their historiographies, analysing how it reflects and relates to the critical computing and feminist computing practices today, and drawing up propositions for developing theories and methodologies in computer science that are rooted in feminist theory and new materialism.

The main outcome of the project will be to produce the state of the art overview of these developments in a form of a white paper and to consolidate a network of local scholars and practitioners working at the intersection of feminist theory and computing. The project also entails organising at least four research lab meetings with guest speakers. The findings and discussions of those meetings will serve both as a basis for a white paper as well as a means to bring together scholars that are interested in critical and feminist computation. This is building on the idea that in order to construct sustainable imaginaries for and of the (technologically mediated) future, one needs first to form a collective subject capable of and invested in such a creative, theoretically informed and practice-driven imagination.

Critical research foci:

  • Theoretical premises and suggestions of cyberfeminism, including cyberfeminist historiographies and history of computing (such as alternative conceptualisations of information and activist approaches that utilise art and computer technology design for emancipation);
  • New materialist theoretical premises to an extent as they relate to digital technologies and alternative material-discursive methodological approaches;
  • Theoretical claims stemming from critical and feminist computing practices and methodologies;
  • Methodological innovations in computing that can be synthesized from the aforementioned bodies of thought.

First lab meeting "Cyberfeminist legacies, technofeminist trajectories, computational practices: where are we today?" will take place on November 8th, 2018, with contribution by Cornelia Sollfrank and an in-depth workshop.