Episode 5 — Feminist Methodologies, Knowledge Creation, and Storytelling

In this week’s episode of Resist and Reboot, we talk to Chenai Chair of the Mozilla Foundation about creating a data justice community in Southern Africa. Chenai talked about her work on building Afro Feminist Futures, her conceptualisations of feminist data and how it connects with work on data justice and data feminism. In this episode, Chenai discusses the ways in which work at the intersection of feminism, data and storytelling involves building and creating more open, safe, and reflexive spaces for people and communities and this is essential to build more inclusive conversations around data and technology. She discusses the challenges of being deliberate in this approach such that it centers and ensures that people from marginalised groups are included and influential in making and shaping policy.

Chenai also discusses the role of working in the area of policy and the challenges of building contextual understandings of data such that it considers questions of who is being represented and by whom, examining who is participating and being acknowledged, and building collaborative and coalitions that work with communities.

She discusses the importance of recognising that work and labour in policy can be extractive, and it is important to respect and acknowledge the effort and time of collaborators who contribute towards recommendations but often get invisiblised by those who become the voice of policy frameworks.

Chenai encourages listeners to find their own voice in thinking about feminism and data, and suggests that the best way to do this is to start.

Chenai’s project on feminist methodologies can be accessed here and her work on Afro feminist futures can be accessed here.

About the project

Places and populations that were previously digitally invisible are now part of a ‘data revolution’ that is being hailed as a transformative tool for human and economic development. Yet this unprecedented expansion of the power to digitally monitor, sort, and intervene is not well connected to the idea of social justice, nor is there a clear concept of how broader access to the benefits of data technologies can be achieved without amplifying misrepresentation, discrimination, and power asymmetries.

We therefore need a new framework for data justice integrating data privacy, non-discrimination, and non-use of data technologies into the same framework as positive freedoms such as representation and access to data. This project will research the lived experience of data technologies in high- and low-income countries worldwide, seeking to understand people’s basic needs with regard to these technologies. We will also seek the perspectives of civil society organisations, technology companies, and policymakers.