The Body Archive
In May 2016 a western media outlet published an article with a compendium of recent research that highlighted the idea that the lives of girls and women, particularly in non-western countries, are often missing from official statistics (McDonald, 2016). In the same article, David McNair, Director of Transparency and Accountability at the ONE Campaign in the UK claimed that women and girls are being left out of data collection: “they are uncounted, therefore they don’t matter”.
The situation is not necessarily different for data about girls and women in western countries. During the Archives Matter conference held in London in June 2016, the feminist scholar Sara Ahmed, after resigning her position at Goldsmiths University - where the conference was held -, chose to focus her talk on the absence of data about sexual assault in UK universities, the confidentiality clause that causes the lack of such data, and the violence, lack of accountability, and institutional failures that this missing data represents. Ahmed also used social media channels to be vocal about the reasons for her resignation: the institutional constant failure in dealing with the problem of sexual harassment. Her blog post “Resignation is a feminist issue” soon went viral, creating a newfound awareness of the importance of data in measuring the scale of the problems that women's and girl's face, that would otherwise remain uncounted.
Resulting from the user’s interaction in and with creative archives our experiences become documents. Sara Ahmed turned her resignation experience into a shareable document. Philando Castille’s wife turned the death of her husband into a live shareable document, forcing an urgent and honest conversation about police brutality in the US. By means of the practice of collectively displaying our experiences, we are making possible for the creative archive to become “The body politic”.
The data of this project originates from 500 manually harvested links to online content (media, resources, tools, news etc) shared on social media platforms by my feminist network during 2015 and 2016 containing information about
1) how feminist networks respond to abuse online and offline,
2) which have been their concerns,
3) and what are the strategies that are being used in online environments to fight abuse and to build spaces for healing and solidarity.
The data has been archived and coded by themes - exploring relations between abuse, solidarity and digital memory- and communities - focusing on the experience of the underprivileged.