#Witchlife: Witchy Digital Spaces

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 42 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Emma QUILTY, University of Newcastle, Australia, Australia
This paper will report on current research that examines the complex and nuanced ways witches interact and network in digital spaces. In particular, it will explore ways women creatively rework mainstream conceptualisations of gender by re-imagining the witch within digital spaces. Methodologically the research project utilises a multi-site ethnographic approach across different field sites, including digital spaces such as Facebook and non-digital spaces such as witch-camps. This allows for unanticipated trajectories to be followed when tracing a cultural phenomenon across and within digital and non-digital sites. In my research the ‘witch’ is used as the common phenomenon that is traced across digital spaces. This approach reveals the fluidity and creativity of reworking gender and identity within networks composed of fixed and moving points. Discussions about the witch in digital spaces that occurred during interviews as well as through online interactions will be analysed using a phenomenological lens. This lens allows for the specificities of women’s experiences to be analysed as well as how such experiences alter implicitly gendered ways of being in the world. For example, I investigate the experience of `becoming’ and embodying the witch through women’s participation in online discussions and activities that resist, challenge and rework traditional religious and gender structures. This behaviour may occur through counter-cultural presentations of the self or engaging in public discussions and debates about social inequalities, religion and activism. What I will demonstrate in this paper is the way in which the emergence of the online witch discourse dynamically constructs how witches creatively use digital spaces as sites of gender alterity and resistance.