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Saturday, June 10 • 3:30pm - 5:00pm
On the Feminist Archiving of a Feminist Collective: FemTechNet @ 10

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In 2012, the network known as FemTechNet had been activated (although not always active) for 10 years. Throughout that decade, several hundred people had collaborated in courses, conferences, meet-ups, and writing. The writing took many forms: grant writing, manifestos, generative papers, articles, teaching materials. Considered together, the network created not only papers and pedagogies, but also friendships, mentoring relationships, emotional connections, conflicts, and incisive criticism of racism, elitism, ethnocentrism that manifested through FTN practice. Participants wrote a manifesto; design and delivered workshops throughout North America, co-taught courses, and developed independent projects. At the 10-year mark, several members of the network realized that the time had come to evaluate the future of the network, and especially the future of the vast, distributed archive that included writings of all sorts, media, syllabi, and varieties of digital artifacts. As an informal network, there was no institutional infrastructure available to store, save, and manage this body of diverse material. Moreover, as was true of the network from the beginning, no one "owned" these materials. This situation required participants in the network to consider questions about the status of the archive: inventory, ownership, storage, sustainability, and access. A subgroup of FTN participants took on the project to think through the FTN archive using a feminist and intersectional framework. This small group, referred to as "the editorial committee" reached out to previous participants, inviting them to re-engage in FTN for the purposes of determining the future of the archive. Over the course of several meetings and an un-conference, participants proposed the creation of a "publication" that documented and discussed the archive and FTN practices.

The workshop proposed here will engage HASTAC partipants in discussion about archival practices and methods for sharing insights about these practices.

Workshop Topic
In its framing statement, the editorial group asserted: We wanted to contribute to thinking about the Intersectional Feminist Archive as..."
Generative and dying
Making and breaking
Centering and marginal
Controllable and uncontrollable
Material and liminal
Produced by us, that produced us
Truthful and fake
Recollections and falsehoods
Documented and undocumentable
Predicting and unpredictable
Kept/cared for and left/abandoned/deposited
Stuck in time and timeless
Identifying and misidentifying
Located and unlocatable
Collaborative and singular
Secure and safe for some and therefore excluding others
Inside and outside institutions (including archives)
Pedagogical and activist
Not for saving exhilaration but for producing it

For HASTAC 2023, we propose to conduct a workshop that considers the plentitude of the FTN archive, to discuss ideas and design methods and practices of feminist/intersectional archiving. The workshop will invite participants interested in questions of feminist/intersectional archiving to consider the diverse nature of work created through an informal network; how, and why the work was created; what was kept and what was lost; and why it matters that this work is remembered. Workshop participants will consider the impact of selective "cultural amensia" where mainstream/dominant institutions would prefer to forget the critical and creative work of marginalized groups. We will explore the affective / emotional experiences of creating and sunsetting innovative work that challenged and intervened in dominant practices and worldviews. The outcome will be contributions to the practices of feminist/intersectional archiving that reassesrts the long-range historical value of remembering feminist/intersectionalist work.

Workshop structure
Part 1: Introduction to the FTN archive; description of type of archival materials
Part 2: Workshop participants self-organize into small groups to focus on one type of materials: writings / syllabi / videos / conference & meet-ups / images / network organization materials
Part 3: Small groups are provided a list of questions to consider -- based on the list (above) that describes the attributes of this archive.
Part 4: Small groups generate techniques informed by feminist/intersectional theory and practice that addresses the questions.
Part 5: The groups reconvene to bring forward reflections and ideas for a broader discussion.
Part 6: The discussion will consider the issue of feminist/intersectional praxis: how (in term of techniques) does a feminist collective make sense (theory) of the formation, management, and sustainability of an archive.

  • The outcome will be contributions to the practices of feminist/intersectional archiving that reassesrts the long-range historical value of remembering feminist/intersectionalist work.
  • There are several possibilites for realizable outcomes: a publication, new collaborations, pedagogical materials, and innovative archiving techniques.
  • The workshop provides a time for collecting remembering and future-thinking, and reflecting on the process of intentionally letting go of things of importance.

avatar for Anne Balsamo

Anne Balsamo

Professor, University of Texas at Dallas
Anne Balsamo is the Dean of the School of Media Studies in the New School for Public Engagement in New York City. Her recent book, Designing Culture: The Technological Imagination at Work (Duke, 2011) examines the relationship between culture and technological innovation, with a particular... Read More →

Liz Losh

Associate Professor, Brooklyn College, United States of America

Alexandra Juhasz

Distinguished Professor, Brooklyn College

Paula Gardner

Professor, McMaster University

Laura Wexler

Brooklyn College, United States of America

Saturday June 10, 2023 3:30pm - 5:00pm EDT
Steuben 400 (Design Center)