SMRL + DSI Guest Lecture: Kishonna L. Gray

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 1:00pm

Space 2435, North Quad

Black Women's Gaming Practices as Intersectional Counterpublics 

This event is sponsored by the Social Media Research Lab and the Digital Studies Institute.


I am unable to detangle, in any analytic or actual way, my gender, race, or sexuality from the vitriol and symbolic violence levied upon me after the discovery of my physical identities in digital spaces. Misogynoir, a core facet of Black feminist discourse and an integral part of intersectionality, acknowledges that Black women’s experiences inside the matrix of domination is echoed by the many ways that Black women are dehumanized in popular culture. Misogynoir also expands the scope of examination and provides an inclusive focus on not just anti-Blackness and White supremacy, but also intraracially, in exploring how Black masculinity and Black patriarchy contribute to the objectification of Black women.

To gain a sense of the interracial and intraracial experiences of Black women in gaming, this talk will interrogate ethnographic observations and interviews with Black women and other women of color in online gaming communities. While these examples highlight the continued devaluation of women in public spaces, my observational narratives weave together a simultaneous engagement with being a Black woman while online, while gaming, and while consuming mediated content about Black women in “the real world.” This transmediated engagement illustrates intersectional tech, exploring the entanglements of visual, textual, and oral engagements of the Black body in both the digital and physical realms.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Kishonna L. Gray (@kishonnagray) is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois – Chicago. She is also a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She also previously served as a MLK Scholar and Visiting Professor in Women and Gender Studies and Comparative Media Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Gray is an interdisciplinary, intersectional, digital media scholar and digital herstorian whose areas of research include identity, performance and online environments, embodied deviance, cultural production, video games, and Black Cyberfeminism. Dr. Gray is completing a manuscript, tentatively titled Intersectional Tech: The Transmediated Praxis of Black Users in Digital Gaming (LSU Press, 2020). Dr. Gray is also the author of Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live (Routledge, 2014). Dr. Gray is also the co-editor of two volumes on culture and gaming: Feminism in Play (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2018),  and Woke Gaming (University of Washington Press, 2018).