A well-timed entrance, if I do say so myself.
Hey y’all, hope your week’s wrapping up nice like Saran. My name is Katie, and I’m an undergrad at Harvard
surviving writing my senior thesis on whiteness in U.S. feminist and pro-feminist blogs. Evidently my interview with Jill the other day wasn’t too traumatizing: she’s generously offered blogspace to let me solicit reader participants — a.k.a. you! — for the research. Thanks again, Jill; it’s a trip to be posting on a blog I’ve read and loved for years.
A little bit about the research, then. In a nerdy sense, I’m fascinated by the process of “performing” racial identities and constructing selves (in this case, white racial identities and selves) in disembodied online spaces. How do people read each other racially in feminist blogs? What white racial cues, if any, do bloggers and blog readers (white or otherwise) offer each other? Do offline experiences of whiteness and white privilege translate into blogging practices? If so, how?
Academics are publishing some exciting stuff on whiteness these days: the current issue of Feminist Theory has a whole crop of articles on the subject, and a few works have popped up that deal with whiteness as “habit.” In another vein, there’s a wealth of cool scholarship on “cyberfeminism” that investigates questions of identity, power, and anti-sexist social action on the Internet. Unfortunately, at this point there’s not much overlap between the whiteness and cyberfeminism fields.
Scholastic geekdom aside, I want to learn more about white feminist bloggers’ and blog readers’ experiences with race and racism online. It’s a topic that’s dear to my heart: for the past two years (what’s that — a decade in blog years?) I’ve been writing on a group blog for progressive Harvard students, a process that’s been tremendously exciting and, as you might imagine, incredibly frustrating. (Flame wars + Ivy League entitlement + Harvard Republican Club trolls = “Why am I at this school, again?” Q.E.D.) My blogging teammates and I have sparred with campus conservatives, but also had some tough conversations among allies, especially regarding “identity politics.” So my interest in U.S.-based feminist blogs, and how they relate to anti-racist whiteness, also comes from a practical, personal connection to this fine little corner of the blogosphere.
Okay, now for the requesting bit. If you’re white, if you’re feminist or pro-feminist, and if anything about my project appeals to you, I would love to interview you over the phone. It only takes an hour and, as Jill and I learned after conquering an international calling obstacle last weekend, it can happen even from a location far, far away from Boston. Comments you make in the interview will not be connected with you whatsoever in the final publication: for blog readers, I’ll be using pseudonyms in order to maintain confidentiality, so nothing in the thesis will reveal your name or individual identity.
If you’re interested in participating in the research, email me at kloncke at fas dot harvard dot edu, and we can set up a time to talk. If not, I hope this note finds you in good health and high spirits — and, perhaps, that it might spark some reflection and strategy sharing. Jill shared some insights in her post update yesterday, so maybe they can serve as a starting point. How can we be ever more responsible, accountable, conscientious, and creative in our anti-racist feminist online communities? Among white folks, what’s working well, and what needs improving?
Thanks, y’all, and take care,
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