In the pandemic, the Feminist Media Studio has moved online. Because our encounters occur through Zoom, we have drafted the following to precede all online events and gatherings:
We would like to begin this conversation with an acknowledgement that while Zoom is the technical “custodian” of the platform on which we gather, this makes us no less occupants of the multiple territories on which we are all physically located. The Feminist Media Studio continues to be situated on the lands of the Kanien’kehá:ka Nation, and just because we cede our spaces of physical gathering during the pandemic, we have not unceded them (yet).
The platform on which we gather also does not emerge out of the ether: it is a product of Silicon Valley, a “unicorn” company valued at $48.8 billion (as of mid-May), five years after launching. It became a public traded company in 2019, and has now more than 300 million daily meeting participants, up from 10 million before the pandemic. Its shares are up 340% in 2020, even as the economy crumbles around us.
Zoom’s headquarters are located on Muwekma Ohlone Territory. The Ohlone have historically understood about sustainability, about communal societies, about giving gifts to those who passed by, and about sharing space. Their horizontal organization might inspire different emergent models of peer-to-peer “networking” in the pandemic than we’re enacting here in Zoom.
We thus see Zoom as a platform which connects us AND which alienates us from the aims of restitution, justice and reparation. In connecting us for now, it might yet take us to those other modes of networking.