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Archive Art Critique Essay Humanities Law/Legal Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Onlining queer acts: Digital research ethics and caring for risky archives

By T.L. Cowan & Jasmine Rault, 2018

This essay considers how the current compulsion to digital reproduction – the urge to digitize, network, and online previously not-online materials – offers researchers of and within queer circuits the opportunity to defamiliarize and denaturalize our participation in academic systems of exploitation and to reorient our work towards decolonizing research economies, habits, protocols, and relationships. It takes the Cabaret Commons, the authors’ speculative digital archive of and for trans- feminist and queer (TFQ) grassroots performance scenes in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, as its point of departure. The authors frame TFQ performance and party scenes as negotiated intimacies, cultivating ethics of vulnerability and risk, which operate within and as networked intimate publics. Reading across decolonial, queer, feminist, and trans- ethics and methods, this essay revisits the value of ephemerality, of strategic evaporation, non-storage, and forgetting in online research contexts. Keywords: digital research ethics, trans feminist queer ethics, ethics of risk, digital culture

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