Failures of Care – Call for Proposals

Failures of Care Edited Volume

150 word abstracts 
Due by September 30, 2021
Decision notification by October 30, 2021

“Care” is often framed in discourse as a laudatory goal and a set of individualized skills that each person should master. Care, however, is a complex concept and practice. Providing care for some communities can mean failing to care for others. And, failures of care may act as “features rather than bugs” in hierarchical systems. This edited volume approaches care as a relational phenomenon through a critical lens rooted in the scholars’ experiences and observations of failures of care in institutions, within their own data collection and analysis, while promoting their research, or interpersonally with other scholars.

Researchers of online cultures and phenomena are at high risk of harassment and threats of physical, mental, and emotional harm. Crucially, the majority of online harassment is targeted toward women, women of color, gender non-conforming, and other marginalized scholars. Researcher safety is now a common topic for conferences, reports, and articles and yet, “guidelines” and “best practices” in this area are lacking and often leave those mired in difficult data or suffering harassment to (re)invent their own. Such failures of care also present challenges during data analysis itself, with researchers navigating traumatic and distressing content often in isolation, affecting the retention of marginalized scholars. These pressing concerns result in safety recommendations targeted toward individuals, without much regard to the role that institutions can and should play in researcher safety. Institutional failures to provide sufficient care to researchers who are harassed because of their scholarship has, in some cases, led to institutional silencing and punishment of researchers for drawing negative “public” attention. Failures of institutional care in this light pose potential breaches of researchers’ civil rights.

Grappling with questions of morality, responsibility, and justice, we invite contributions for an edited volume which aims to engage with crucial conversations in feminist scholarship and other disciplines as to what care entails and what happens when it is appropriated, misaligned, and poorly practiced, if at all. In the midst of growing racism, misogyny, global health crisis, and the catastrophic failures of care we have witnessed, we are compelled to explore the ways that organizations and institutions can ensure care in our research, teaching, and collaborations. 

Topics can include but are not limited to:

  • institutional failures of care ( e.g. lack of response to experiences of harassment, lack of policy to protect researchers in the field, etc.)  
  • working with distressing data 
  • networked harassment / online abuse
  • relational and collegial failures of care (e.g. harassment from other academics, unhelpful advice or indifference from mentors, gatekeeping behaviors, etc.) 
  • researcher safety (e.g. ethical standards for “safe” research focusing on subjects and leaving out researchers, etc.)
  • care and methodological challenges (e.g. ethical review board expectations around informed consent, gaining access to toxic or extremist communities, etc.) 
  • self-care (e.g. as a rhetoric of neoliberalism, a genuine practice and coping mechanism, etc.)
  • researching extremist communities and phenomena (e.g. GamerGate, transphobia, right wing extremism, white supremacist extremism, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theory groups, etc.)

If interested, please fill out the Google Interest Form with your information and a 150 word abstract describing the contribution. We are inviting contributions in the form of academic essays (4,000 to 5,000 words), personal essays (2,000 to 3,000 words), or works of poetry and/or art (please contact us to discuss the number of pieces). We especially encourage submissions from early career researchers, graduate students, international scholars, BIPOC scholars, women and non-binary researchers, and other marginalized scholars.

Because we are submitting this as a book proposal, we do not yet have a definitive timeline for when contributions need to be submitted to us, but we are targeting Rutgers University Press and have garnered interest from a section editor.

If there are any questions, please feel free to reach out to the volume editors — Dr. Julia DeCook, Dr. Ashley Mattheis, and Alexis de Coning — at