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Feminist Approaches Conference

Anne Welsh6 July 2010

I know the world of Digital Humanities is alive with the sound of DH2010, but yesterday I attended a much smaller conference at the University of Sussex that brought together those of us researching women’s use of the Internet and / or using feminist approaches to DH research.

Digital Methods, Cultural Politics and Feminist Approaches was organised by the Centre for Material Digital Culture, Media Film and Music and attracted academics from Film, Literature, Psychology, Anthropology, Life Writing and, of course, Information Studies.

I was presenting a small pilot study I’ve been conducting, using a standard DH textual analysis tool (Taporware List Words) to analyse classification schemes at the Feminist Library and the Glasgow Women’s Library alongside the section of the Library of Congress Classification that deals with “The Family. Marriage. Women” (subclass HQ). Slides (.pps) here.

This post is just to flag up some interesting projects that were presented at the conference:

1. Leverhulme Trust-funded Sisterhood and After: the Women’s Liberation Oral History Project picks up on Dr Rachel Cohen’s work on the Women’s Liberation Movement Research Network and Dr Margaretta Jolly’s expertise in oral history and life-writing to record interviews with 50 prominent members of the WLM in the 1970s and 1980. The British Library will preserve and provide web-access to the material as part of its educational offerings.

2. The Institute of Development Studies has been carrying out work in recent years to empower women in developing nations through the use of digital media. Tessa Lewin showed videos made by women in the project and signposted the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme.

3. Zemirah Moffat (now University of Kent) presented an extract from a video she made as part of her PhD submission at University of Westminster. Anthropologist Zemirah used a mixed methodology to explore and question the role of the “impartial film-maker” and found digital media essential as it allowed her to film her subjects watching previous recordings she had made of them and feed back into the interview / recording / observation process. She is currently working on getting her film onto the web, and already uses the processes she developed when teaching her students at Kent.

4. Louise Madden (Cardiff) is just finishing a PhD in Critical Psychology in which she has been investigating women’s everyday use of the Internet. One observation she made was that the nature of the web has changed dramatically since she first started her study – and even the prevalence of laptops is a seismic shift in how we get online.

5. One to watch: Red Chidgey, a well-known DIY feminist is just embarking on her PhD at South Bank University. It will examine feminist networks and already Red is starting to question the best use of research blogs.

Of course, these five papers are just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve archived the #digifem tweets using Twapper Keeper. The conference organisers are hoping to get some of the presentations online soon, and I’ll post again here when they do.

If you’re headed to DH2010 tomorrow, have a wonderful time. I’ll be at Rare Books School instead, but the rest of the UCLDH team will be out in force, and even a UCL MA LIS student or two. I’m looking forward to reading / hearing all about it.