"Can I study you?" Cross-disciplinary conversations in queer Internet studies


  • Michelle A. Marzullo
  • Jasmine Rault
  • T. L. Cowan




queer ethnography, queer ethics, queer internet studies, digital research ethics, feminist ethics, onlining


We first met around a workshop table at the queer Internet studies (QIS2) in Philadelphia in February 2017. This conversation began when we realized that we all had some disciplinary knowledges, training and practice that can bear upon queer Internet studies, but simultaneously we felt unprepared for the methodological-ethical challenges posed by the Internet as a queer research environment. Michelle was trained in ethnography as an anthropologist and Jasmine and TL were trained in humanities perspectives — mostly through literature, performance studies and art history, though about five years ago they had begun to retrain in the fields of online archives, pedagogies and networks, which has led to a new collaborative research project on digital research ethics. We had all been trained in dyke/queer/feminist methods and critical theory, and continue to work in this area. And we all were experiencing some gut feelings about the need for better understandings of disciplinary practices — what we are doing, how do we apply what we know how to do, and why are we doing it — across disciplines as we enter the Internet as researchers, in a research situation. What follows is a conversation the three of us had over email and videoconference between July–October 2017, which revolved around the question of what ethnographic methods can bring to Internet research, and what might queer and feminist research ethics look like in the context of digital research environments.

Author Biographies

Michelle A. Marzullo

Practicing anthropologist and academic who serves as chair of the Ph.D. program in human sexuality studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, California

Jasmine Rault

Assistant professor at the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information & Technology and Department of Sociology at University Toronto Mississauga

T. L. Cowan

Assistant professor of media studies (digital media cultures) in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media (UTSC) and the Faculty of Information (iSchool) at the University of Toronto




How to Cite

Marzullo, M. A., Rault, J., & Cowan, T. L. (2018). "Can I study you?" Cross-disciplinary conversations in queer Internet studies. First Monday, 23(7). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v23i7.9263