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.
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'.