TWITTERING RESEARCH, CALLING OUT AND CANCELING CULTURES: A STORY AND SOME QUESTIONS
Keywords:Feminism, social media, Twitter, research networks, inequities
This is an analysis of how Twitter played a significant, agentive and accountable role in the difficult birth and premature unravelling of a government-funded international feminist research network. We situate this case study and this process of initiation and annihilation within the broader context within which social media platforms are a critical site of intensive affective discursive practices through which individual and institutional reputations can be made and unmade, frequently with far reaching professional and or personal consequences. To date there has been little academic study of both the broader implications of the potential benefits of social media for academic networking and the perils. Two data sets are analyzed comparatively, the first, detailed written responses from an in-person workshop designed explicitly to gather feedback on the research network; the second a set of tweets that erupted over a number of days shortly after that event. Content analysis of both data sets shows the impact of a small, localized Twitter event on an international network of researchers, demonstrating the speed and thoroughness with which decades of research and collaboration can be undone, and raising larger questions about the sustainability of culturally precarious trajectories of work -- in this case feminist work -- within Twitter’s increasingly hegemonic media ecology.