Anthropology Seminar Series 2023 | Emotional infrastructures and ‘volunteering’: Ikwe Safe Rides in Winnipeg | Sheri Gibbings
Anthropology Seminar Series:
Emotional infrastructures and ‘volunteering’: Ikwe Safe Rides in Winnipeg
Speaker: Sheri Gibbings, Wilfred Laurier University
Join via Zoom
Host: Dr Robbie Peters
This presentation focuses on Ikwe, a grassroots ride-sharing group that emerged in Winnipeg, Canada in January 2016, in response to the growing number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women who felt unsafe in taxis. Using a Facebook group to connect drivers and passengers, Ikwe is a grassroots organization created by women to provide transportation to women, often the poor and vulnerable, through a network of volunteer drivers. This article argues that alongside the technical infrastructure of Ikwe, which is composed of Facebook and cars, there is an emotional infrastructure composed of relational channels where the women share and manage their feelings related to driving passengers. These emotional infrastructures for drivers are based on a network of social circulations, which include sharing information over the Driver’s Log (a Facebook Messenger group that includes all of the drivers), and telling funny and sad stories at the parking lot that the drivers dubbed “Headquarters.” This emotional infrastructure creates a system of support and safety for the drivers.
Sheri Lynn Gibbings is an Adjunct Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and a Research Affiliate at the University of Manitoba. Her earlier work focuses on the rights of the urban poor in urban Indonesia, where she has studied street vendors, and urban politics. This work has been published in journals such as Indonesia and City & Society, and in a book entitled Shadow Play: Information Politics in Urban Indonesia published by the University of Toronto Press in 2021. Her current research and publications focus on ride-hailing in Winnipeg and Indonesia. Gibbings is the Principal Investigator of a Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada Research Insight Grant titled, “‘Ubering’ the City: Understanding Transportation and Ride-Hailing Applications.”