"We cannot be what we cannot see": Mapping gaps in research in gender and information society

The articles in this bilingual edition point to how visibility of our bodies and our stories is the starting point of a different way of being. The stories we tell of struggles and perseverance, of movements and solidarity – entangled as they are in the fine wires of technology – are necessary and essential and could be the foundations for the movement for change.

The title of this edition – "We cannot be what we cannot see" is taken from Kerieva McCormick's article, Observing our Observers in the Age of Social Media: Mentoring resilience from a Romani feminist perspective - a moving exploration of how young Roma women and girls deal with, understand, and talk about violence and harassment faced by Roma people, online and offline. This article examines the double consciousness experienced by those who live with the reality of exclusion and discrimination even now in contemporary societies, and the ways in which younger generations navigate hostility and celebrate themselves and their resilience.



Original art work, collage by Flavia Fascendini

When it comes to research methodology – quantitative and survey based methods dominate the field, especially amongst civil society organisations, while ethnography, interviews and field based research took place largely within academia. Inter-disciplinary studies however were not that common, and barring a few participatory video projects there was not much link to film, literature, video and documentary film, and art. We are just not having enough fun!

However the form of personal essay in particular amongst groups and people that find themselves marginalised in structures of knowledge making has become particularly powerful. For instance, in relation to how people with disability navigate gender and sexuality, and sexualness online, the gap is filled by the Sexuality and Disability blog that carries personal essays and resources for people with disability.

While looking for articles we also felt that we had not really focused on young women and girls, their movements and politics – but our writers made up for this gap by repeatedly pointing to how it is young women and girls who are changing the scaffolding and structure of information society.

Another gap in particular that we could not address was on implications of big data and algorithmic decision making around gender and sexuality. While we have covered this in earlier editions, it is difficult to find research and writing in middle and low income countries that looks effectively at this, especially in the context of where projects of national identity cards, biometric voter ids, surveillance projects are in their beginning stages.

This edition is not exhaustive of the gaps in the research of gender and information society, but we hope it is a starting point, a launch pad into what has not yet been explored.

Because we cannot be what we cannot 'see'.

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Editorial

[EDITORIAL] Mapping gaps in research in gender and information society

Anri &
namita
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[SPECIAL EDITION] Observing our Observers in the Age of Social Media

Kerieva Mccormick looks at how young Roma women and girls deal with, understand, and talk about violence and harassment faced by Roma people, online and offline. This article examines the double consciousness experienced by those who live with the reality of exclusion and discrimination even now in contemporary societies, and the ways in which younger generations navigate hostility and celebrate themselves and their resilience.

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[SPECIAL EDITION] Debrahmanizing Online Sphere: On Larger Questions of Caste, Gender and Patriarchy

A powerful discourse around ‘digitally empowered society’ and ‘knowledge economy’ have been added to the neoliberal Indian vocabulary, while access to basic quality education, teachers, schools, infrastructure and so on are still major issues faced by the underprivileged in India. Identities are being formed around new interactive practices, particularly for young Dalit women. This article probes the ways in which caste, gender and ideology/practices of technology are interlinked in India.

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[SPECIAL EDITION] Expert on my own Experience: Conversations with Neo Musangi

Neo Musangi is a performing and visual artist, academic and researcher. They are non-binary (preferred pronouns: they and them). In this interview Neo talks about various things – sexuality and gender based groups, the women’s movement and feminism, the role of visual and performing art and their disgruntlement with academia, being non binary openly and publicly both online and offline.
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[SPECIAL EDITION] Interview with Maggie Mapondera : A feminist internet must always be grounded offline

In this interview with Maggie Mapondera, she unpacks movement-building and the role of ICTs. Movements are built around shared stories and passions, and ICTs are one aspect of how momentum is built and sustained around a cause. Here Maggie Mapondera shows how women's stories are powerful and can potentially change the world, but we must listen with care and integrity.
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[SPECIAL EDITION] There is no opting out.: Indigenous women in Malaysia and questions of access

In this article, Serene Lim takes a closer look at how questions of access to the internet relate to the struggles of indigenous people and their movement for rights. Rather than the top-down imposition of connectivity, projects for access should align with their social context and as part of their right to sustainable development and right to equal participation.
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[SPECIAL EDITION] Taking the girl's revolution online: Interview with Ghadeer Ahmed

Ghadeer Ahmed created Girl's Revolution on Twitter and Facebook a year after the revolution on Jan 25 2011 in Egypt. In this interview with Yara Sallam she traces the difficult and rewarding journey of talking about women's rights, body, sexuality, violence and harassment and sharing this with many other women and girls online.

This interview is part of a longer one that conducted in October 2016 for EuroMedRights report "In Their Own Words". Ghadeer likes to introduce herself as a feminist writer.

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[SPECIAL EDITION] Editatonas: “I edit, therefore I am”

Editatonas - are Wikipedia edit-a-thons that are exclusively for women. The reason for these events is to deal with the stark difference and lack of representation for women on Wikipedia as compared to men. This is also reflected in that only 10% of Wikipedian editors are women. Carmen Alcazar explores what editatonas do to change that.
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[SPECIAL EDITION] #NiUnaMenos: Politicising the use of technologies

Ni Una Menos (Not One Woman Less) is a popular feminist uprising originating in Argentina that spread across parts of Latin America, and then across to Poland, Spain and Italy as well. This article traces the origins of this fiery and defiant moment that became a hashtag and a movement, and how it links to technology and social media and to other movements across the world.