Learning about Feminism in Digital Spaces: online methodologies and participatory mapping

Jessica McLean*, Sophia Maalsen, Alana Grech

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Collaborative online research offers opportunities and constraints for geographers. This article critically appraises a collaborative research process that we used to illuminate spatial and political dynamics of feminism contained within the online group ‘Destroy the Joint’ (DTJ). A mostly Australian initiative of over 74 000 Facebook members, DTJ aims to end sexism and misogyny in multiple ways. It operates as a meeting place, discussion forum, and umbrella organisation for numerous micro-campaigns that change in response to broader social, cultural and political contexts, and occur in online and offline spaces. We formed a collaborative research agreement with the moderators of DTJ to reflect on its work, asking participants to put themselves on a map and complete a survey. Participatory GIS and survey-based research operated in the real and the more-than-real spaces that contain paradoxical possibilities. We use the term more-than-real to highlight the excesses of digital spaces: the affect that social media generates, and is generated by, characterises the more-than-real, where extremes in productive and corrosive relations can permeate. Survey results showed diverse appreciations of DTJ's multiple activist tactics (across seemingly ‘superficial’ and ‘meaningful’ interventions), and creative ideas for future campaigns. Mapping revealed both dispersed networks and urban activist concentrations. Nevertheless, after an initial peak of interest and enthusiasm for reflecting on DTJ, the reporting back of research findings to DTJ followers did not garner significant interest. This article tracks that collaborative research trajectory. Intentions to build a hybrid research collective were not realised because of how the more-than-real affords possibilities and limitations. The politics of ‘giving-back’ within the more-than-real are critically engaged with in this appraisal of an experimental online collaboration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-177
Number of pages21
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2016


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