rhizomes.04 spring 2002

Radhika Gajjala

[1] In Subaltern Studies Volume 9, Susie Tharu and Tejaswini Niranjana ask "How might we 'read' the new visibility of women across the political spectrum?" (Tharu and Niranjana 1996, p. 232). They go on to discuss the complexities of approaching a variety of political issues using what might be referred to as a "gender lens." It turns out as various feminists (black feminists, transnational feminists, Queer theorists and more) have found - that applying a monolithic gender perspective across various contexts does not prove to be democratic without question. In such applications of feminist frameworks, "gender" is the category of difference rather than a category of difference contributing to various levels of oppression. Thus, often "gender" is implicitly equated with "women" while erasing the situatedness of gender formations.

[2] In relation to cyberfeminism, then, how might we read the (in)visibility of "gender" across cyberspace? Everywhere we turn these days there is a celebration of women using the Internet or some other computer related technology. But what are we allowed to use these technologies for and within which contexts? Why are we allowed? Who are the women allowed? Under what conditions are we allowed? Why are we under a constant state of "being allowed"? Where and how can we locate women's agency in relation to these spaces and practices? At the same time as there is this mediated visibility of "gender" in relation to computers and cyberspace, much discourse surrounding "new" technologies implicitly assumes the transparency of these technologies. Therefore, even as women are displayed visibly in relation to various technological contexts, the complex gendered, raced, classed, embodied - in short the socio-cultural and economically situated - nature of technological design and practices are not acknowledged often enough.

[3] The essays in this issue, text and multimediated, both in form and content address the complexities of these issues in various ways. While these feminist investigations in relation to technology continue to negotiate technophilia and technophobia (Stabile 1995), they are more concerned with moving beyond the either/or framing implicit in dystopic and utopic discourses surrounding the use and design of technologies as they examine the situated nature of technology related discourse and practice.

[4] These essays are meant to be an opening or an intervention in an ongoing spatially dispersed conversation about the politics and practices of a still emerging cyberfeminism. In order to invite responses and provide opportunities for further essays, we are opening up the women-writing-culture list with a new focus on women writing (cyber) cultures. Posts to this list will be moderated and posted upon moderator approval. For a history of the women-writing-culture list, see the list archives from «http://lists.village.virginia.edu/~spoons». [1]


A few random Cyberfeminism related URLs:




[1] To subscribe, send a message to majordomo@lists.village.virginia.edu saying subscribe women-writing-culture. A digest option is available too - to subscribe to the digest, send a message to the majordomo@lists.village.virginia.edu saying subscribe women-writing-culture-digest.


Works Cited

Stabile, C (1994). Feminism and the Technological Fix, Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press and St. Martin's Press, 1994.

Susie Tharu and Tejaswini Niranjana, "Problems for a Contemporary Theory of Gender" in Subaltern Studies IX, Shahid Amin and Dipesh Chakrabarty, eds. New Delhi: Oxford University Press India, 1996.