Charis welcomes Catherine Knight Steele in conversation with Moya Bailey for a discussion of Digital Black Feminism. Digital Feminism traces the longstanding relationship between technology and Black feminist thought. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
Black women are at the forefront of some of this century's most important discussions about technology: trolling, online harassment, algorithmic bias, and influencer culture. But, Catherine Knight Steele argues that Black women's relationship to technology began long before the advent of Twitter or Instagram. To truly "listen to Black women," Steele points to the history of Black feminist technoculture in the United States and its ability to decenter white supremacy and patriarchy in a conversation about the future of technology. Using the virtual beauty shop as a metaphor, Digital Black Feminism walks readers through the technical skill, communicative expertise, and entrepreneurial acumen of Black women's labor-born of survival strategies and economic necessity-both on and offline.
Positioning Black women at the center of our discourse about the past, present, and future of technology, Steele offers a through-line from the writing of early twentieth-century Black women to the bloggers and social media mavens of the twenty-first century. She makes connections among the letters, news articles, and essays of Black feminist writers of the past and a digital archive of blog posts, tweets, and Instagram stories of some of the most well-known Black feminist writers of our time. Linking narratives and existing literature about Black women's technology use in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century, Digital Black Feminism traverses the bounds between historical and archival analysis and empirical internet studies, forcing a reconciliation between fields and methods that are not always in conversation. As the work of Black feminist writers now reaches its widest audience online, Steele offers both hopefulness and caution on the implications of Black feminism becoming a digital product.
Catherine Knight Steele is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland - College Park and was the Founding Director of the African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum). She now directs the Black Communication and Technology lab (BCaT) as a part of the Digital Inquiry, Speculation, Collaboration, & Optimism Network funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Her research focuses on race, gender, and media, with a specific emphasis on African American culture and discourse in traditional and new media. She examines representations of marginalized communities in the media and how groups resist oppression and practice joy using online technology to create spaces of community.
Catherine’s research on the Black blogosphere, digital discourses of resistance and joy, and digital Black feminism has been published in such journals as Social Media + Society, Information, Communication and Society, and Feminist Media Studies. She is the author of Digital Black Feminism (NYU Press 2021), which examines the relationship between Black women and technology as a centuries-long gendered and racial project in the U.S.
Moya Bailey is an Associate Professor in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. Her work focuses on marginalized groups' use of digital media to promote social justice and she is interested in how race, gender, and sexuality are represented in media and medicine. She is the digital alchemist for the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network and the Board President of Allied Media Projects, a Detroit-based movement media organization that supports an ever-growing network of activists and organizers. She is a co-author of #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice (MIT Press, 2020) and is the author of Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance (New York University Press, 2021).
This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage
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Traces the longstanding relationship between technology and Black feminist thought
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