Encounters, coffees and conflicts: reflections from an action-research on Feminist Autonomous Network

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This action-research project envisages the implementation of a WiFi community network in quilombo Terra Seca in the Vale do Ribeira region in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, while conducting a participatory research process on information and communication technologies, more specifically community networks, through an intersectional feminist lens.

Encounters, coffees and conflicts: reflections from an action-research on Feminist Autonomous Network
About this research

In this project we propose to research both theory and practices on the recent efforts of building Feminist Infrastructure such as Community Networks (CNs) aiming to discuss whether and how the social interactions around infrastructure imply in the construction of connectivity solutions that are more aligned with the Feminist Principles of the Internet. In an action-research process, we have as objective delivering, together with the communities, two functioning CNs that attends the communications and connectivity demands the communities have.

Amongst our objectives is also stimulate the local production of content and decentralize and give more autonomy the local data share, without the need of the internet. Internet connections in rural and peripheral areas are  expensive and most of the times have limited data packages, so, having local networks for local data share is a way of amplify the resources available locally.

The focus of our research is to analyze what are the changes when we are able to do the CNs regarding feminist perspectives and methodologies from the beginning, that's a starting point, so, the means of the communities connecting themselves is a research objective for us, how they do that in comparison with more traditional ways, that don't take feminist principles in considering.

We will write about that process, with in locus journals and using multimedia to take the statements of the locals (if and with their consent, of course). So, we are very interested in this qualitative data of their impressions of the process as a research material to write about the changes in the discourse around connectivity, internet access and communitary communications when we use different methodologies and measures of success.

After the implementation we want to measure how improving connectivity affects women's lives and environment and if (and how) they can favor movement building; to see what are the most common uses for the CN and most used services and difficulties, in order to improve the technologies used and also, on a longer term period, see if and how the differences on the approaches have impact on the sustainability of the CNs. Finally, we want to outline that the Internet connectivity in this context is a means and not an end, being the main objective to better capillize the community communications, using different technologies and methodologies according to the local needs.

The full report will be available soon.