Research Team:

Rena Bivens, Carleton University

Alison Harvey, University of Leicester

Mél Hogan, University of Calgary

Jessalyn Keller, University of Calgary

Koen Leurs, Utrecht University

Mélanie Millette, Université de Québec à Montréal

Mary Elizabeth Luka, York University

Sarah Roberts, UCLA

Tamara Shepherd, University of Calgary

Samantha Thrift, University of Calgary

Jacqueline Wallace, Concordia University

Andrea Zeffiro, McMaster University


Research Assistants:

Web Design & Social Media| Sydney Mack, McMaster University

Video Producer & Content Editor | Katie Abels




Rena BivensCarleton University

My research interrogates normative design practices that become embedded within media technologies, including social media software, mobile phone apps, and technologies associated with television news production. I'm particularly interested in examining the emergence of gender, race, and violence. I was very lucky to have met many of the group members, including the main instigators of this project - Tamara Shepherd and M.E. Luka - at conferences over the past few years. Our research overlaps in interesting ways and so I was delighted to join this project.  Collaborative research projects force you out of your own research silo. You have to interact with other people and see things from their vantage point. I describe this as 'forceful' but I do not experience it in this way. Instead, it is incredibly rewarding to see how so many different research interests and varied sets of expertise can combine into something new and exciting.  There are many aspects of this project that will carry on into my future research, including the topics and issues that have emerged as particularly important and urgent as part of our collaborative work. For now I would focus on the strength that comes from having a community of other academics whom I can support and continue to collaborate with, and whom I can also draw on to understand the pressures we face and, in that context, help determine the most appropriate ways to expend our energy while doing the work that we love.

AnneMarie DorlandUniversity of Calgary | Design Ethnography; Cultural Production Studies; Practice Studies

I became involved with the Fourchettes through an RA position with Dr. Tamara Shepherd. For me, the collaborative process provides both inspiration for future work, and insights into new perspectives on the work that I'm already engaged with. It also challenges me to move beyond my own field of study to take on other forms of research and scholarship. I believe that the Fourchettes work will inform the methods I adopt in future research, and my focus on intersectional practices in my own studies.

Alison HarveyUniversity of Leicester

 My research focuses on questions of inclusivity in digital culture, specifically in the realms of digital games, social and mobile media, and the Internet. I explore how the presence of women and other marginalized groups is systematically constrained, and opportunities for enabling their access and participation, in sustainable ways. In order to do so, I engage with qualitative and participatory action research methods and feminist, queer, critical race, and political economy scholarship.  I met Tamara Shepherd at the Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme in 2010, and had the fortune of collaborating with her on an action research project in Montreal in 2013-2014. Through her, I met many of the project's collaborators, and felt an instant affinity based on each researcher's ethical and political approaches to scholarship, including research-creation, policy interventions, community engagement, and a range of critical qualitative research methods. Underlying this was a shared commitment to collaborative academic work, and from this our desire to work on emerging issues in digital research developed. Collaborative research is rewarding in so many ways, but what I personally find to be the best bit is how we challenge each other. Despite the fact that we have a shared overarching commitment to ethics, justice, and inclusion, we all come at this from different perspectives, questions, and theoretical precepts. When you are engaging in collaboration in research, this becomes the grounds for not only debate but also the productive flourishing of new ideas. In other words, collaboration is the grounds for iterative conceptualization that would be nearly impossible when working individually. This is both productive when considering the work that results but also in terms of new ways of thinking about contemporary problems and potential solutions. For one thing, I think I will keep working with the people in this collaboration in various ways in the future. While on paper our specific areas of focus diverge, with each member I can see productive avenues for confronting emerging questions. The work we have been doing on technoculture and research methods has already shaped how I approach other projects, and drives me to seek collaborations not only for myself but also for colleagues within the research cluster I lead at the University of Leicester. Once you go collaborative, you can never go back!

Mél HoganUniversity of Calgary

I research data centers and their environmental impacts. Methodologically, I'm interested in creative non-fiction as a way of disseminating academic work.  I became involved in Fourchettes as a result of a Connections grant, which was written by colleagues who I'd been collaborating with for years on a variety of projects. The most rewarding aspect of collaborative research is the support network that emerges from it, and the ability to share ideas and explore topics from different perspectives. Fourchettes will allow us to forge our own trajectories regarding feminist tools and methods. With funding, we can meet in person more often. I envision Fourchettes pushing the current limits of methodology, including challenging what currently counts as knowledge and the means by which knowledge is created.

Keon LeursUtrecht University

Digital migration studies, feminist internet research, critical digital methods, participatory research, ethics of care, intersectionality, diaspora, race, youth culture. Through long-time collaboration with Tamara Shepherd and Alison Harvey, dating back from the summer school at the Oxford Internet Institute in 2010. This collaboration is energising, motivating and inspiring, it offers exchange and dialogue through creative collision, which are key to establish new social justice oriented frameworks to understand and push back at dominant technocultural power relations.  In part, The Fourchettes was formalized around a SSHRC grant, but I expect to sustain my ties to this network well beyond the terms of the grant. In that regard, I see this project as ongoing and evolving, taking shape alongside of individual research agendas and institutional locations.

Mary Elizabeth Luka York University

Creative industries and the culture sector; Innovation and creativity; Broadcasting telecommunications and culture policy;  Critical digital methods, data and practices; Feminist and intersectional theory; Communication and media studies

I am the principal investigator for the SSHRC Connection Grant for the project. But the way in which I got involved was through ongoing discussions with several of the people in the research group. I'm particularly interested in our shared desire to work collaboratively in a variety of ways -- to activate updated collegial approaches, find ways to support each other's individual endeavours, and to build a research approach that could serve as a compassionate, efficient model for academic work that connects in meaningful ways with our respective communities and research partners. There are so many benefits to working in collaborative ways. With such a large group, it means that there is always someone we can talk to about obstacles, questions, and possibilities in our own individual work, so that we are not always just "living in our own heads." Additionally, putting together activities such as the seminar series, or a website, or a book - all of these allow for a division of labour that is sensitive to everyone's timelines. Best of all, though, are those moments when something comes together in unexpected ways that several people have worked on together -- research, articles, responses from the community, and more -- as well as the opportunities to share excitement, frustrations, and outcomes. Nothing can beat it.

The project will help me forge deeper relationships with some of the other participants and partners, and create new ones. The seminar series and the work we do together to prepare for these will suggest new directions, generate thoughtful responses and provide me with a series of sounding boards. I also hope it will become a lifelong cohort of research companions and co-creators.

Tamara Shepherd University of Calgary

Feminist political economy of digital culture. Friends (?) Friends (!) My hope for Fourchettes is to expand our inclusive group of co-conspirators off into exciting dimensions that push the boundaries of "digital methods." Constantly prodding, provoking and intervening in more accepted or mainstream versions of digital culture research is important to question the epistemological foundations of what we take for granted as knowledge. In the next stages of Fourchettes, I also hope to make stronger connections with communities that can benefit from our interventions as researchers. This advocacy role is one way of manifesting the alternatives we envision for the rethinking of digital methods.

Andrea ZeffiroMcMaster University

 In the last eight months, my program of research has turned towards critical data studies. At present, I’m designing a pilot study on social media research data ethics. This small study will examine institutional research ethics policies from a sample of Canadian universities to assess the current trends, standards, and protocols mandating how social media data is accessed, analyzed, shared, published, and stored. The project goal is to develop a set of ‘best practices’ for social media research data, particularly for humanities and social science researchers, and to identify intervention strategies for how academic research methods, practices, and protocols can foster data ethics in a broad sense, but also more directly in the shaping of research projects that hinge on ‘publicly’ available digital data, for example: social media data, sensor data, and leaked data. As more scholars in the humanities and social sciences rely on social media data for their research, technical knowledge to acquire and analyze data is needed, but so too is a refined understanding of evolving data protocols and practices, in addition to ethical considerations concerning the norms and values embedded within these protocols and practices.  I’ve known a few of The Fourchettes members for over 10 years now, stemming from our time together as graduate students at Concordia University. Some of us have collaborated on projects over the years, so we have different working histories coming into this project. I don’t remember how or when the idea came about for this particular project, but at some point a few years ago, we discussed formalizing our working relationships and leveraging our individual research strengths, expertise, and resources.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked on a number of interdisciplinary collaborative projects over the last decade, so I can say with confidence that collaboration is always challenging before it’s rewarding, but I find working through the challenges rather enriching. By appreciating the motivations and ambitions of others, I’m better able to understand my own. Recognizing why I want to do the work I do (or identifying what it is that I don’t want to do) is liberating.

Katie AbelsMcMaster University | Video Producer & Content Editor

 Something I really enjoy about collaborative research projects is that everyone shares the same passion. Despite some of the challenges people face when working in a team environment, it is the motivation and inspiration that drives the project to success. Everyone involved in The Fourchettes shares the same investigative spirit, and willingness to learn which makes the work that much more satisfying. Aside from group assignments done in class, this is the first major research project I have been involved with. I am definitely interested in becoming more involved with projects like this in the future.  I love research! So much so, that I will be pursuing a post-graduate diploma in market research. In addition to this, I am currently a teaching assistant for a second year Communications Studies course surrounding qualitative research methods.

Sydney MackMcMaster University |  Web Design and Social Media

I am currently finishing my degree in Honours Communications and a diploma in Marketing.  I had the honour of taking Dr. Andrea Zeffiro's Media and Social Activism seminar course last year where she recruited me to be a research assistant for the project. I find participating in collaborative research extremely rewarding because it is filled with a lot of diverse opportunities and perspectives. In reference to this project, each researcher involved has brought their own skill sets and experience to the table which has allowed us to lead critical and comprehensive seminars. This is the first research project I have participated in and it has sparked my interest to get involved in more research in the future.