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Thursday, June 8 • 4:20pm - 4:30pm
Intersectional Feminist Epistemologies, Provenancial Fabulation and Diffractive Analysis: Storytelling as Knowledge in the Digital Humanities

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This paper emphasises the centrality of storytelling and embodiment as modes of intersectional feminist epistemologies within the practice of digital archivists, artists and scholars, who were interviewed as part of the research project, Full Stack Feminism in Digital Humanities (FSFDH). The aim of FSFDH, which is jointly funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK and the Irish Research Council, is to create more inclusive DH practices by applying feminist approaches that link cultures, communities, and repositories, and to embed intersectional feminist praxis, as a critical methodological approach, across DH environments. “Full Stack” is invoked here as a metaphor to account for the comprehensive nature of the project.

Collaborative approaches include interviews, a community archives forum, coding workshops, public talks and an open call for artists, with representatives of communities traditionally marginalised within DH on the basis of their sexuality, gender, race, class, ability, or intersecting identities. The goal of these collaborations is to identify the biases, exclusions and limitations, as well as the transformative potential, of the digital tools, platforms, infrastructures and methodologies these practitioners employ in their practice, which will ultimately feed into an online toolkit that they and others can use to ensure that their digital project is as inclusive and diverse as possible.

Prioritising storytelling and embodiment is one way in which the project actively serves to decentre dominant perspectives, histories, technologies and practices and is also reflected in the findings from our community engagement interviews. Archiving oral histories; documenting dance practice; utilising virtual reality as a space to disrupt the gender binary through playfulness; and animating archival artefacts using numerous creative methods including 3-D modelling, represent some of the ways in which the interviewees foreground embodiment through processes of digitally-mediated storytelling to centre marginalised lives, experiences and knowledges.

To account for this disruption of dominant knowledges and claims to objectivity within traditional institutions, analysis of the interview transcripts draws from Barad’s “diffractive” methodology (2007) and Lapp’s articulation of “provenancial fabulation” (2021). A diffractive analysis involves reading data and theory through each other in a decentred way, rather than applying a hierarchical category of codes to an interview transcript, for instance. (Barad 2007; Taguchi 2012; Mazzei 2014). In addition, “provenancial fabulation…serves to decentre “the archival gaze,”” which is understood to be white, cis, powerful and male (Lapp n.p. 2021).

Furthermore, this paper broadens the concept of provenancial fabulation beyond the archive to include the artistic and scholarly practices of our interviewees. Similar to a diffractive methodology, provenancial fabulation also disrupts notions of “singular, central creator bodies—to instead account for difference, contention, and the entangled nature of feminist lives and histories” (n.p.), thus undermining claims of a singular, objective truth or origin. Instead, these concepts allow for the foregrounding of storytelling and embodiment, not just as a means of reimagining lost or partial accounts of marginalised lives, or misrepresentations of the past, but also as a way of imagining alternative intersectional feminist futures, based on creativity, playfulness and diversity.

avatar for Izzy Fox

Izzy Fox

Postdoctoral Researcher, Maynooth University
PD Researcher on Full Stack Feminism in DH @fullstackfem

Thursday June 8, 2023 4:20pm - 4:30pm EDT