Stitching a Patchwork of Presence in Digital Place (2020)


In my last love letter to you I spoke about the stitching-as-community-building that we do across timezones and geographies in the space of our digital screens.  I used the metaphor of the everyday patchwork wrapping cloths made by women in Korea, who craft their “bojagi” from collections of discarded, overlooked and unused pieces of cloth, as a way to visualize how we craft our community – a digital patchwork made from “the collective scraps of intersecting concerns that structure the continual becoming of our group. Our digital bojagi is wrapping presence with each other, resisting the privileging of standard modes of authorship, rather, embracing acts of embodied co-creation – this is the way we build trust in transnational networks”.  This is the structural metaphor for the design of one of the tech platforms we created for world-making and well-being – Media Map and where we gathered together in May, 2019 to share our first letters.  We continue to create this digital patchwork from our situated and distributed places of living, through the act of being present, through the act of coming together periodically and often in asynchronous and piecemeal moments of time, when this act is as simple as adding a thread to a conversation in Slack.  This way of flocking together, in pieces, in small moments, has crafted itself into a greater whole comprising different patterns of presence over the past five years, patterns that express our community’s history, connecting the bits and pieces of what’s been happening in our lives into something that sustains us.  The way we craft our community with digital thread acknowledges the lineage of expression by diverse craftswomen including the narrative quilts made by artists such as Faith Ringgold whose quilts are “a tangible bond between present and past” and vehicles for telling community stories, connecting bits and pieces of life-stories into a whole. (1)  Each moment, each way that we flock together in digital place is a stitch and a trace that we add to our distributed community, in order to keep the connections in place.  

This flocking, this stitching in digital place has become even more precious and perhaps more precarious during the time of coronavirus.  Precarious because as we now spend so much of our time in front of screens, struggling and stretching to engage and be engaged with our students, institutions, and social lives, what does it mean to sustain ourselves using these neoliberal technologies whose relentless demands often seem at odds with the nurturing of body and spirit?  Precious because I find that being present with our community means even more during these times of deep anxiety and uncertainty.  Technology is a tool we may use to connect across our kitchen table but what sustains us is our collective presence expressed in the bits and pieces of our lives collectively shared, in stolen moments on different platforms we use agnostically as a means to keep our community in touch, especially now in these touch-less times.  This digital witchcraft works not so much through the technology itself but through the intent of conscious care and nurturing cast between us.

(1)  Dunn, Margaret M., and Ann R. Morris. “Narrative Quilts and Quilted Narratives: The Art of Faith Ringgold and Alice Walker.” Explorations in Ethnic Studies 15, no. 1 (January 1, 1992): 27–32, 27.

FemTechNet at CSA 2015

In May 2015, FemTechNet convened at panel at the Cultural Studies Association in Riverside, California, where the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook was formally announced.

The original lineup for the panel:

FemTechNet: Transforming what and who counts in digital education
Chair: CL Cole, Universiity of Illinois

“The Distributed Online Collaborative Course (DOCC): Toward an accessible, open, accountable, transformative and transforming feminist university of our dreams”
Alex Juhasz, Pitzer College

“Building a Collaborative FemTechNet Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook”
Anne Cong-Huyen, Whittier College, Digital Liberal Arts Center

“FemTechNet as a Roadmap While Traversing the Minefield of Community Informatics”
Ivette Bayo Urban, University of Washington

“An Other University is Possible: Representing Alterity in Ubiquitous Computing Pedagogy in FemTechNet”
Elizabeth Losh, University of California, San Diego

Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook

One of the first projects of SCRAM (then the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies committee), the Pedagogy Workbook was designed to cohere a large body of materials and resources to help instructors teach about technology, gender, and race. Of particular importance to this group was the desire to distribute and mitigate the risk of teaching these topics from subject positions that are more precarious, namely junior women of color scholars.

Built in Scalar, this has been an ongoing project that also reflects our big hopes and our limited capacities.

FemTechNet presented a poster on the Pedagogy Workbook at HASTAC at Michigan State University in May 2015.

“Looking California, Feeling Minnesota”*

This is a story about how to find your people.

We are SCRAM, the Situated Critical Race and Media group. This is my part of the story.

During a tenure-track research leave in 2015, I applied to participate in the Feminist Scholars Digital Workshop, hosted by HASTAC. I was working on a grant proposal for my university’s interdisciplinary research center, and wanted some feedback. I’d already been waitlisted for the award once, and wanted to win it the second time around. The award would have allowed me to be at home in Minneapolis full-time, and that was really important to me, then and now.

FSDW’s format included a peer review group, and it’s there that I met Anne Cong-Huyen through the screen. She read my proposal, gave me great feedback, and invited me to FemTechNet’s conference in Los Angeles that same summer. Academically, I was really, really lonely. Anne’s warm invitation was just what I needed.

Because I’d lived in LA before moving to Minneapolis, I was more than happy to return, and I met Anne and others who were working on a Scalar project called the FemTechNet Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Pedagogy Workbook. I joined the project and never looked back, meeting other members of SCRAM in the process.

The following spring, FemTechNet hosted a conference in Ann Arbor called Signal/Noise, and I made the image attached to this post during one of the conference’s maker sessions with Veronica Paredes and Hong-An Wu. I also saw Kristy H.A. Kang present her inspirational “Seoul of LA” project, and had already started thinking about ways to hang out with these amazing people on a regular basis, not just in our screens.

Our CRES (Critical Race and Ethnic Studies) group was now meeting bi-weekly and documenting as many of our thoughts, plans, and processes as possible. We knew we wanted to spend time building together, so the first years of our current configuration were heavily invested in grant-writing and supporting each other along our career and personal journeys. We were meeting up at conferences when we could, sharing the resources that we had, and asking ourselves a lot of questions about what it means to be who we are in academia, while we were busy being who we are in academia.

We were learning by listening to each other, breaking stuff, and watching our peers, fans, and scholarly elders. Alex Agloro coined the term “Hang-based Pedagogy” and we ran with it. In practice, this term has meant that we’ve worked with FemTechNet colleagues to organize a network gathering every year at the Allied Media Conference, where we tell versions of our multiverse origin story at the same time that we’re living it; that we’ve made an art out of screen capping chat sessions, where the most important points are in the gaps between posts; that we’ve hacked funding mechanisms so we can maximize our gifts to each other and our workplaces, where we return, refreshed, after time spent researching together.

My part of this story is certainly about locating people, but also about contextualizing how and why and when you find them. It matters.

*RIP Chris Cornell. Ups to all the CA/MN BIPOC Gen-Xers who know the song by heart.

From The Seoul of Los Angeles to Singapore

In 2017 Kristy H.A. Kang was awarded an EdeX Grant from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.  Adapting the design for her online cultural history on Koreatown in Los Angeles – “The Seoul of Los Angeles: Contested Identities and Transnationalism in Immigrant Space” – this grant was used to  create an online collaborative platform for critical making and mapping in the classroom.  This became the basis for this online platform Media Map.

The aim of this project is to create an online collaborative database and mapping platform for students and faculty that can be used as a pedagogical tool for making and mapping of visual media (video, archival images, historical data, research and text). The outcome of this project would be to enhance course material development – to create a tool that would facilitate the process of sharing and creating research of online resources and to practice in creating audio-visual responses to the materials in a collaborative, interdisciplinary setting.

The platform would be utilized in distributed classrooms to share resources and student works among collaborating faculty who are part of Situated Critical Race and Media (SCRAM) – a D.I.O. (Do It Ourselves) race and social justice network of feminist organizers, educators, artists, activists, and scholars working on technology, justice, transformation, digital media praxis and theory.


FemTechNet @ U of Michigan

Femtechnet hosted its first conference April 8-10, 2016 at the University of Michigan “Signal/Noise“.  FemTechNet is an activated network of hundreds of scholars, students, and artists who work on, with, and at the borders of technology, science, and feminism in a variety of fields including Science and Technology Studies (STS), Media and Visual Studies, Art, Women’s, Queer, and Ethnic Studies. Launched in 2012, the network has developed and experimented with collaborative processes to address the educational needs of students interested in feminist science-technology studies. One of the FemTechNet projects is the creation of an alternative to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) called a DOCC: Distributed Open Collaborative Course.

In a workshop on mapping, Karen Keifer-Boyd begins with a discussion of feminist principles and practices of mapping and cartography from interacting with several examples, including FTN DOCC mapping projects. Two researchers, Kristy H.A. Kang at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and Almudena Escribá Maroto, Universidad de Valencia, Spain, present how they use mapping to visualize overlooked histories of ethnic communities and how they claim space in the city, the relationships between politics of location and knowledge in terms of accountability/responsibility, the body, and ideological landmarks.

The interest in Kristy H.A. Kang’s presentation of her online cultural history “The Seoul of Los Angeles: Contexted Identities and Transnationalism in Immigrant Space”  became the design inspiration and model for the NTU EdeX Grant awarded to Kang in 2017 to create this current collaoborative platform MediaMap. Co-PI’s on the grant include members of the SCRAM collective.

NTU and TNS: Global Cultures and Difference in Media Art

In 2014, Veronica Paredes and Kristy H.A. Kang designed and taught a course called “Global Cultures and Difference in Media Art” between Singapore and New York. This course explores media art intersectionally situated between nations, languages, cultures, genders, and ethnicities. This multi-nodal course is designed to be an alternative to the conventional university seminar and was taught simultaneously and collaboratively between two locations and schools: NTU-ADM and The New School’s School of Media Studies in New York.

Throughout the term, students from Singapore and New York developed creative dialogues and exercises to collectively create artworks, which became part of an online database and archive of class materials, group projects and discussions which can be viewed here –

This course created an opportunity to reflect on how local or regional media artists and collectives in Singapore and New York respond to and challenge theoretical concepts of “difference,” while shaping multiple understandings of place and identity.

DJ Lynnee Denise on Organic Intellectualism

Organic Intellectualism: DJ Scholarship, Black Feminism and Erasure Resistance
Podcast Dialogue between DJ Lynnée Denise and Dr. Marla Jaksch

Produced by Sandra Gabriele, Michelle Macklem, and Marla Jaksch
Transcript of this episode can be found at

Recorded at Signal/Noise: A FemTechNet Conference on Pedagogy, Technology, and Transdisciplinarity
April 8th-10th, 2016
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Renina Jarmon Interview by Nicole Brown

David Hyun was a 1.5 generation Korean American architect who is best known for designing the Japanese Village Plaza in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. Following the success of this project in the early 1980s, Hyun was approached by members of the Korean community to design a similar redevelopment project in Koreatown to be named “Korea City”. Hyun’s son, David K. Hyun is shown here describing the history of his father’s design of Japanese Village and its legacy.