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Accepted Paper:

A feminist approach to digital ethnography: Challenges and experiences of researching digital feminisms on Weibo  
Xumeng Xie (Queen Mary University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from experiences of researching digital feminisms on Weibo, this paper examines the promises and challenges of using digital ethnography to track contingent and dynamic social media events and study the emergence of networked feminist resistance in China.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I draw from my own experiences of researching how Chinese young women engage in feminist discussions and practices on the Twitter-like microblogging site of Weibo to consider the promises of using digital ethnography to track contingent and dynamic social media events and study the emergence of networked feminist resistance. In the meantime, this paper aims to respond to the challenges facing digital media researchers who study culturally and politically sensitive topics and have to navigate techno-political contexts of surveillance, censorship and governance. It hence problematise the conception of the digital as a global, monolithic and stable terrain.

Entangled with my commitment to feminist epistemologies, the specific form of digital ethnography presented here seeks to reflect on research practices as affective and power-laden processes where researchers and participants develop connection and collaboration but also constantly encounter discomforts and anxieties. I propose to apply the notion of postdigital intimacies to understanding the complex research relationship in the post-digital settings of communication where binaries such as online/offline and public/private have been increasingly destabilised. I argue that the negotiation and contemplation of intimacies raises troubling questions about how (digital) ethnographers present themselves within and beyond these research ‘sites’ and generate meaningful discussion around inclusive and participatory potentials of employing digital ethnographic methods.

Panel P036
Digital ethnography and experiences from the Global South
  Session 1