About the Book

The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class and Culture Online (2015)

Eds. Safiya Umoja Noble and Brendesha Tynes

Steve Jones, series editor, Digital Formations Series, Peter Lang

Introduction: Intersectionality in Electronic Environs

As digital technologies, including the Internet and its various permutations, continue to impact our everyday lives, it becomes more apparent that electronic environments reflect our sociocultural identities. We invite contributions from academics and practitioners that approach identity and information and communication technologies in intersectional ways. For this collection, intersectionality frames the examination of intersecting, multiple identities that complicate, extend, and maintain beliefs, design, and practices in digital technologies. We are especially interested in papers that locate ICTs within sociocultural contexts that examine race, gender and power.

We view race as an “instrument of social, geographic and economic control” (Guinier, 2004). We acknowledge the importance of individual agency, but also the “institutional and environmental forces that both shape and reflect that agency” (Guinier, 2004). As such, intersectionality in this collection may highlight how individuals experience intersecting oppressions in a given socio/historical/political context, but also how they may transcend and even thrive in the face of economic and social inequality and oppression (Collins, 2000). Though intersectionality is traditionally employed as a critical framework, we welcome contributions from a range of scholarly and disciplinary approaches.

The collection will be divided into three sections. Contributors must note which category their paper fits within. Possible topics for each section are listed below.

Section One: Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Intersectionality

This section addresses the relative dearth in theoretical and methodological literature on intersectionality and technology. This may include approaching technocultural beliefs from a structural perspective, examining institutional discourses about technology’s effects on perceptions of intellect, sociability, progress, or culture as they are mediated by technology. The collection’s emphasis on intersectionality requires contributors to seat their contributions within real-world cultural interactions with technology, as opposed to speculating about technology’s future with some yet to be established sociopolitical reality.

To frame this section, we contend that ICTs create social worlds that retain ideologies born of physical, temporal, and social beliefs, although early cyberculture researchers worked hard to convince us that digital worlds would be free from those constraints. That ideological retention can be seen in technological beliefs privileging governments over citizens, corporations over people, and the   expansion of white privilege in cyberspace. Examples of chapters in this section could include technology debates on privacy and identity formation in the media, public policy debates about the expansion of broadband or net neutrality, or group discourses about technology’s possibilities for mainstream or minority cultures. Though cultural studies has increasingly become a dominant approach to understanding media more broadly, we invite contributions from a range of academic traditions and methodological approaches. Social scientific methods, for example, including quantitative analysis of data and grounded theory analyses of interviews are welcome.

Section Two: Cultural Values Inside the Machine

This section addresses how individuals and groups recreate, destroy, and reconfigure identities within the digital. This section emphasizes discursive constructions of identity in electronic environments; that is, that social conditions work to create and constrain individual understandings of self. We are interested in foregrounding the dialectic malleability and solidity of ethnic and cultural groups, particularly as people establish and maintain individual and group identities through discourses that extend to the technological. We want to highlight the performative and discursive aspects of embodied identities like gender and sexuality. For Internet studies, this is especially powerful since material and physical aspects of group identity are often only semantically evident — articulated through text or digital multimedia, for example. Using race or ethnicity as a grouping variable can provide important information about trends in use and the ways that social identities are implicated in those trends.

Examples of chapters in this section could include studies of Black queer representations on YouTube, the reification of Whiteness and White privilege in blogs like StuffWhitePeopleLike.com, or critiques like “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls,” the rise of (and response to) critical feminist gamer blogs, racial responses to Facebook and MySpace usage or even the role of racialized and gendered labor in developing ICT infrastructures.

Section Three: Cultural Values as the Machine

This section addresses how cultural values are articulated through technology design — both of hardware and software. We placed this section towards the end of the book, rather than the beginning, to draw readers away from technological determinist perspectives on society and culture. Our foundational document for this section is Arnold Pacey’s (1894) Technology as Culture. Pacey argues that technology can be understood as the amalgam of an artifact, the associated practices, and the beliefs of its users. Our vision for this section is that it synthesizes the beliefs articulated in section one and the practices discussed in section two to specifically focus upon the design of software artifacts and platforms that shape electronic experiences. As well, this section will examine hardware platforms and interfaces such as e-readers and mobile phones and computing, along with the infrastructures and labor that support them.

Examples of articles in this section could include the persistence of hypermasculinity in the “realist” tradition of high definition video game graphics, the runaway adoption of Twitter by African Americans, privacy concerns for domestic abuse survivors using GPS-equipped cellphones or the changing nature of work and labor in relationship to the digital.

Submission Procedure

Authors are requested to submit an abstract of no more than 750 words (in plain text or word format) by October 1, 2014 that address the following:

  1. Purpose: Why is the topic important? What are the aims of research?
  2. Theoretical approach and method: What is the approach or subject scope of the paper?
  3. Findings: What was found in the course of the work? What are the main results presented in the chapter? This will refer to analysis, discussion, or results.
  4. Research implications: For academic fields, disciplines, state of the art (if applicable).
  5. Practical and societal implications: What outcomes and implications for practice, applications and consequences are identified? How might it affect quality of life?
  6. Originality/value: State the value of the paper and for whom it is relevant.

Not all chapters must necessarily have practical and societal implications.

Author biographies should be approximately 200-300 words and contain information on academic/professional position, institutional affiliation, research interests and topics, major publications, projects, networks, etc. The abstract submission should contain the author’s contact information (name, e-mail, postal address, phone and fax numbers), and the working title of the proposed chapter.

Submitted manuscripts should be original work, not concurrently submitted to any other venue. Only electronic submissions will be accepted and should be emailed to Safiya U. Noble, Ph.D. by email at intersectionalinternet [at] gmail [dot] comSubmitted papers will be carefully reviewed. The length of a submitted paper should typically be no more than 8000 words including references, and formatted in APA style.