QUEER DE/STABILIZATIONS IN AND OF DIGITAL CULTURAL RESEARCH
Keywords:queer, gender, sexuality, research methods, actor-network theory
This panel brings together papers that explore digital cultures, platforms, and queer and feminist theoretical and methodological research approaches. The papers in this panel each explore the kinds of approaches suited to researching queer “de/stabilizations” in and of digital culture; that is, to projects of tracing, mapping, and making, queerer worlds via digital cultural research. “Trustworthy” systems are, in one important sense, systems that are relatively stable, reliable, and that work somewhat predictably. But in algorithmic digital cultures “reliability” and “predictability” are not always characteristics to be trusted: digital media scholars have examined how algorithmic systems “build in”, intensify, and thus stabilize a-priori discriminatory practices, cultural associations, and stereotypical representational meanings, thus helping to cement social inequalities via increasingly ubiquitous practices of quantification, as Paper 4 explores in relation to digital extracted data on “gay” genomics and faces. On a different register, ethnographic research on youth, social media, and gender and sexuality has also evidenced the kind of stabilizations of hetero-patriarchal dominant meanings of, for example, digitally shared images of bodies, as Papers 1 and 2 highlight. Important tensions arise in digital cultural research, particularly among scholars concerned with gender and sexuality, around desires to trace, and make manifest stable, strong, and more broadly and inclusively “trustworthy” systems, communities, and meanings in digital cultures, and the associated risks of capture and exclusion pertinent to marginalized groups and bodies (Paper 3). The papers in this panel explore these tensions, and their implications for digital cultural research.