GEN Webinar "Digital ethnographies"

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Digital ethnographies, intersectionality and interdisciplinarity: feminist methodologies from quantitative to participatory methods and queer research in the Covid-19 age

Watch the recording of this event here and on the IAMCR webinars channel.

This webinar event gathers together a diverse range of top female academics working across the Humanities and Social Sciences who are making use of feminist methodologies in an innovative and creative manner. In an age where teaching and research has had to adapt to the realities of remote working due to the Covid-19, we ask ourselves what does it mean to do “digital ethnography” research? How can quantitative methods be used by critical feminists to make better sense of the world? In what way can feminist methodologies be employed in the law profession, in a way so as to challenge the legal orthodoxies of the field?

At a time also when social injustices and equalities have again reached the foreground of many debates in the global public agenda, encouraged by movements such as the #BlackLivesMatter in 2020, how can we look at the narrative of equality within social science research and make sense of the plight of marginalised groups, such as LGBT lives? How might also feminist and community-based participatory research help us transform our research practice, and assist us in tackling some of these pressing current issues of social and gender inequalities?
These are just some of the questions and issues that the panellists will explore in their talk.

The webinar will consist of presentations delivered by Professor Radhika Gajjala, professor of American Culture Studies and of Media and Communications, Bowling Green State University; Senior Lecturer Roisin Ryan-Flood, Director of the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC) at the University of Essex; Senior Lecturer Niamh Moore of the Department of Sociology, University of Edinburgh; Dr. Tanya Ni Mhuirthile, Assistant Professor in the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University; Rachel Cohen, Reader in Sociology, Department of Sociology, City, University of London, and Professor Helen Wood, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of Lancaster, UK. It will be chaired by Dr. Carolina Matos, Senior Lecturer in Media and Sociology at the Department of Sociology, City, University of London.

Abstracts and Bios are detailed below.

Date and time

Friday the 15th of October, 2021, from 1 to 3pm (London UK time).


For those who wish to sign up to the event, please send an e-mail to the chair and co-chair of the IAMCR GEN section, Dr. Carolina Matos ( and Patricia Núñez-Gómez (

Presenters will speak for around 10 mins, followed by a final 20 mins discussion session.

Webinar event: Digital ethnographies, intersectionality and interdisciplinarity: feminist methodologies from quantitative to participatory methods and  queer research  in the Covid-  19 age

Chair: Dr. Carolina Matos, Senior Lecturer in Media and Sociology, Department of Sociology, City, University of London

Bio: Matos is senior lecturer in Media and Sociology and PD of the MAs in Media and Communications and International Communications and Development in the Department of Sociology, City, University of London. Her research is in the field of media, gender and international development and she is the author of three books, various journal articles and book chapters.

1) Title: Epistemologies of Doing: Doing (Internet/Digital) Media Ethnographies from 1993 to 2020

Radhika Gajjala, Professor, American Culture Studies Program and School of Media and Communication, Bowling Green State University, USA

Abstract: In a "Covid" world, more and more humanities researchers are reaching for remote research techniques. An alarming trend seems to be to name all these techniques in and of themselves as “digital ethnography.” This presentation will discuss the issues and problems associated with remote research, and what it means to do remote interviews vs actual ethnographic work of digital contexts. I will draw on my experience doing ethnography immersed online and offline since the 1990s to help us collectively think about the nuances, opportunities and limitations of adopting various remote research techniques. I will particularly focus on themes related to radically contextual intersectionality, and how this starts with a re-definition of the problem rather than just token inclusion or the stating of the layers of our identities and locations alone. I will also discuss my most recent (collaborative) work using data analytics tools as a critical feminist research of digital activist publics.

Bio: Radhika Gajjala (PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 1998) is Professor of Media and Communication and of American Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University. Her books include: Digital diasporas: Labor and Affect in Gendered Indian Digital Publics (2019).; Online Philanthropy in the Global North and South: Connecting, Microfinancing, and Gaming for Change (2017), Cyberculture and the Subaltern (Lexington Press, 2012) and Cyberselves: Feminist Ethnographies of South Asian Women, published (Altamira, 2004). She has co-edited collections on Cyberfeminism 2.0 (2012), Global Media Culture and Identity (2011), South Asian Technospaces (2008) and Webbing Cyberfeminist Practice (2008). She is currently working on a co-edited book on Gender and Digital Labor under contract with Routledge, and a book on (gendered) Indian Digital Activist publics under contract with Rutgers University Press.

2) Title: Feminist participatory research as playing ‘cat’s cradle’

Niamh Moore, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Department of Sociology, Edinburgh University, UK

Abstract: This presentation will draw on Haraway’s work on the string game of ‘cat’s cradle’ (1994) as a way into appreciating how feminist participatory research involves a reconfiguration of research relationships, and the research process. Drawing on examples of participatory research, we’ll explore why and how to do participatory research, how it can transform our research practice and how it might produce ‘worldly interference patterns’ (Haraway 1994).

Bio: Niamh Moore is an interdisciplinary feminist researcher, currently a senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. She has published on ecofeminism, feminist theory and activism, community archiving, and many methodological issues, including ethics, community- based participatory research, and the archiving and reuse of academic research data. She is currently working on a book, DIY Academic Archiving: Creating open data and curating research materials (with Nikki Dunne, Martina Karels and Mary Hanlon) which draws on involvement in community archiving as a way of reimaging the project of ‘open data’ for qualitative researchers.

3)Title: Using Feminist Methodologies to Deepen Legal Analysis

Dr. Tanya Ní Mhuirthile, Assistant Professor in the School of Law and Government, Dublin City University, Ireland

Abstract: This paper will briefly discuss the manner in which feminist methodologies can be used to unpack law. Often analysing law using doctrinal legal methodologies results in findings which support the status quo. Employing feminist methodologies, enables us to dig below the surface and to exposes the assumptions and presumptions inherent in law, to challenge legal orthodoxies and demonstrate how alternative, legally sound, outcomes can be arrived out when a different perspective is adopted.

Bio: Tanya Ní Mhuirthile is an Assistant Professor in the School of Law and Government in Dublin City University. She researches the impact of law on the human body. She advises Governments, civil servants and national and international NGOs on legislation and public policy in her areas of expertise. Tanya was appointed to the Gender Recognition Act Review Group in 2017. 3)Tanya was a member of the Northern/Ireland Feminist Judgments Project and is also a member of the Northern/Ireland Feminist Constitutions Project.

4)Title: How about ‘Feminism Counts – feminist quantitative methods’

Dr. Rachel Cohen, Reader in Sociology, Department of Sociology, City, University of London, UK

Abstract: There is a long history of feminist antipathy to quantitative methods that has resulted in a notable absence of quantitative methods from feminist methods training and textbooks. Yet, feminist researchers have long employed quantitative analysis and today, as the data available multiplies, are doing so to ask, and answer, new questions. This paper reflects on this relationship, suggesting that while the diversity of feminist quantitative analysis is a good thing, there has been a failure to create a coherent feminist approach to quantitative analysis which has limited the impact of feminism on quantitative methodologies.

Bio: Dr Rachel Cohen is a Reader in Sociology. Her research focuses on work and employment, especially non-standard work. She is a former Editor of Radical Statistics and has an interested in feminists use (and non-use) of quantitative methods.

5)Title: Que(e)rying Methods: Intersectional Feminism and Queer Research

Dr. Roisin Ryan-Flood, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC), University of Essex, UK

Abstract: There have been astonishing advances in sexual citizenship in some parts of the globe in recent years. In the face of such changes, a new narrative of equality has emerged. According to this new narrative, LGBTQI people no longer experience oppression, or only at minimal levels. Yet this obscures the lived realities of many queer people who continue to experience hate crimes, bullying, harassment and material inequalities. This narrative of equality affects social sciences research. Previously, LGBT lives were seen as an ‘exotic other’, interesting by virtue of their Otherness. This was always problematic, because it rested on an assumption that studies of queer lives only produced insights relevant to them, rather than to wider social theory and societies.

I would like to propose two arguments. Firstly, I argue that the more queer lives gain increased equality in relation to sexual citizenship, the more marginalised they become in the social sciences. Secondly, that queer lives matter at an epistemological and ontological level. Drawing on Butler’s theory ‘Bodies that Matter’, in which she argued that queer bodies matter epistemologically, just not in a socio-political sense, I will make the case that this unfair marginalisation of queer histories, renders them of interest only to the extent that they experience oppression, thus ignoring how insights from their lives have wider relevance.

Bio: Róisín Ryan-Flood is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC) at the University of Essex. Her research interests include gender, sexuality, citizenship, kinship and critical epistemologies. She is the author of Lesbian Motherhood: Gender, Families and Sexual Citizenship (Palgrave, 2009) and co-editor of Secrecy and Silence in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections (Routledge, 2010) and Transnationalising Reproduction: Third Party Conception in a Globalised World (Routledge, 2018). Since 2012, she has been co-editor of the journal Sexualities: Studies in Culture  and Society (Sage). She is currently writing a book about gender and intimacy in the digital era, to be published by Palgrave.

6)Title: Feminist cultural studies in a digital age: how to be ‘radically contextual’?

Professor Helen Wood, of Media and Cultural Studies, Department of Sociology, University of Lancaster, UK

Abstract: This paper thinks about the challenges for feminist methodological practice in contemporary media and cultural studies, taking its charge from cultural studies which aims to be ‘radically contextual’. It considers the challenges of dealing with a hypermediated landscape which allows for the aggregation of human action as data and where textual responses to events can operate as barometers of feelings and moods. Drawing upon work which calls for a cultural studies approach to data as lived (Kennedy 2018), this paper considers the ways in which the feminist researcher might encourage multiple and local forms of expression, that might be somatic, affective, embodied as well as textual, which both acknowledges and also resists assuming the affordances of technological capacities.

Bio: Professor Helen Wood is a researcher and teacher of media and cultural studies interrogating the relationship between gender, class and inequality. She is interested in media form, in particular television texts and their reception, as well as the broader institutional and commercial environments of production and their associated uneven participatory relations. She has experience in conducting audience research funded by the ESRC which can be read in the 2012 book Reacting to Reality Television: Audience, Performance, Value, Routledge and edited the collection Reality Television and Class 2011 BFI with Beverley Skeggs.