Feminist and queer studies have intermingled, been collapsed into each other, and been drawn back out repeatedly since the 1970s. Their respective histories are often situated among the same scholars, such as Donna Haraway, Judith Butler, and Gayle Rubin. Third-wave feminism and queer studies recognize the socially, historically, and politically constructed nature of their own identities and the material effects these constructions have on all of our lives. Though they have their own detours, feminist theory and the intersectional turn of the 1980s or queer theory and its own deviation into psychoanalysis in the 1990s, they draw from the same methods of investigation. Inspired by feminist standpoint theory and Haraway’s push for situated knowledges, we approach our research ethnographically as and within women, queer, and gender variant people.
Technology and LGBT life in the Upper Peninsula (Jean Hardy)
LGBT visibility is inevitably on the rise. Marquette and the surrounding areas in the Central Upper Peninsula (UP) have seen new points of community and identity formation for LGBT people, including the founding of UP Pride Fest, a notable increase in local drag queens, the forming of new community groups and events, and the adoption of a city non-discrimination ordinance. Using ethnographic methods such as participant observation and interviews, Jean’s project investigates the shifting and growing world for LGBT people in the UP and the role(s) that technology inhabits in this process.
Feminist hackerspaces (Stefanie Wuschitz)
A feminist hackerspace is a shared living room, equipped with DIY tools and electronic devices, such as open source hardware and open source software. Workshops and other skill-sharing events create peer-to-peer learning environments for building things from wood, metal, code, electric circuits, fabric, organic materials, etc…A feminist hackerspace at the same time offers an infrastructure to develop autonomous ideas on the intersection of technology, art and activism. Usually a code of conduct, agreed upon through sociocratic principles, addresses participants’ responsibility to treat others in this space with respect, sensitivity and empathy. Many feminist hackerspaces have certain door policies, such as allowing in only female identified persons or transgender persons. This way feminist hackerspaces try to provide a network of support to each other and fight sexism as well as intersectional oppression within the male-dominated maker scene, where the majority of resources is owned by male-dominated circles. What is created within a feminist hackerspace besides the already mentioned networks of support, activist interventions and tech prototypes are innovative and unorthodox forms of performing gender. This way feminist hackerspaces make an important contribution to social and technological emancipation. There are around 10 active feminist hackerspaces worldwide: Double Union (US), Pechblenda (ES), Femhack (Canada), Mz Baltazar’s Lab (Austria), MzTek (UK), Mothership Hackermoms (US), the Attic (US), take back the tech (South Africa), XXLab (Indonesia), Genderchangers (NL).