photo of Alex Ketchum
Dr. Alex Ketchum is an Assistant Professor at McGill University's Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies (IGSF). She is the Director of the Just Feminist Tech and Scholarship Lab. From 2018-2023 she was the Faculty Lecturer at the IGSF. Her work integrates food, technological, queer, gender, and environmental history.

Ketchum's first peer-reviewed book, Engage in Public Scholarship!: A Guidebook on Feminist and Accessible Communication (Concordia University Press, June 2022), examines the power dynamics that impact who gets to create certain kinds of academic work and for whom these outputs are accessible. The environmental, social, and economic conditions in which scholars are presently working, marked by digital technologies and climate change, matter. Two initial questions guide this book: what is “feminist” and “accessible” scholarship? This text does not focus on all feminist scholarship, but rather is interested in a feminist perspective on public-facing scholarship that aims to be accessible. These questions are further complicated by the challenge of sustainability. The book is available in paperback and open access. The book was supported by a multi-year SSHRC Insight Grant and an ASPP award. 

Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the trailblazing restaurant Mother Courage of New York City, Ketchum's second book, Ingredients for Revolution: A History of American Feminist Restaurants, Cafes, and Coffeehouses (November 2022), is the first history of the more than 230 feminist and lesbian-feminist restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses that existed in the United States from 1972 to the present. As key sites of cultural and political significance, this volume shows the essential role these institutions served for multiple social justice movements including women’s liberation, LGBTQ equality, and food justice, as well as for training women workers and entrepreneurs. The book, based on her doctoral research, is available in paperback and open access, and was supported by an ASPP award.

Current Ongoing Projects:

Queer and Feminist Tech Histories 

Ketchum is in the midst of writing her third monograph, tentatively titled, "Digital Queers, TechnoDykes, Hi-Tech Gays, and Lavender Bytes: A History of American, Canadian, and British LGBTQ+ Cyber Activism 1992-2002." This project is concerned with the moment in the 1990s in which LGBTQ+ community organizations needed to rapidly move online and queer activists had to take practical steps to learn new technological skills, obtain necessary computer equipment, update organizational communication practices, and maintain an ongoing commitment to information sharing, privacy, and safety under a new digital regime.  In this book, Ketchum analyzes the specific steps that people took to learn to create and maintain websites, how organizations trained volunteers and staff on new digital tools, and how these seemingly mundane processes that queer people and organizations led radically upended activist workflows and required new infrastructure. This book explores how marginalized groups, particularly LGBTQ+ people, respond to, re-work, build, and shape digital technologies. Rather than passive users, marginalized peoples, particularly LGBTQ+ people, have played a role in shaping Internet culture. This project is timely because, with the ongoing and increasing deployment of AI and machine learning technologies, the LGBTQ+ cyber activist organizations of the past demonstrate how to resist, utilize, and repurpose new digital technologies that can have dramatic implications for organizing, activism, and the workplace

Furthermore, Ketchum's interest in past imaginings of utopia through business creation and the implementation of communications technologies has guided her new research and fourth book project on historically contextualizing the relationship between feminist ethics and AI. This fourth book, which is currently in the archival research stage, is tentatively titled "Recoding Feminisms: Algorithmic Resistance, Resilience, and Liberation (1956-2021)." This book will integrate findings from her digital exhibit, From Tech Wizard to Cyber Pagan: 40 Years of Magic on the Web. She plans to resume work on this book in winter 2025.

Since 2019, Ketchum has organized the SSHRC (Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada) funded, Disrupting Disruptions; The Feminist and Accessible Publishing and Communications Technologies Speaker and Workshop Series (disruptingdisruptions.com). Ketchum was named one of the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics for 2021.

Queer and Feminist Food

Building on Ketchum's work on lesbian and queer women's foodways, she co-organized the Queer Food Conference in April 2024 with Megan J. Elias at Boston University. Out of that conference came Cook Out: The Queer Food Conference Cookbook, which contains recipes and headnotes from scholars, journalists, activists, and artists exploring the ideas of queer food. Partnering again with Elias, Ketchum is co-editing The "Illustrated Guide to Queer Food with Recipes!" (working title). The anthology is a collection of 10, 3-5 page essays by leading LGBTQ+ scholars, journalists, and writers, paired with 10, 8-10 page comics by LGBTQ+ cartoonists, and 10 illustrated recipes from 10 notable LGBTQ+ chefs, showcasing diverse perspectives about queer food and drink in an accessible way. This anthology explores how food can be queer through its production, role in fostering community, and symbolically. The "Illustrated Guide to Queer Food with Recipes!" invites readers to engage with 10 themes of queer food. By partnering with Prism Comics (a non-profit organization supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual and LGBTQIA-friendly comic books, comics professionals, readers, and educators), the book aims to represent the diversity within the LGBTQ+ comics community and the LGBTQ+ community at large. This project is supported by a SSHRC Partnership Grant. 

Ketchum is the founder of The Feminist Restaurant Project (www.thefeministrestaurantproject.com), which also houses her podcast on feminist restaurant history. She is co-founder and editor of The Historical Cooking Project (historicalcookingproject.com), a website dedicated to food history scholarship and the former co-founder of Food, Feminism, and Fermentation (foodfeminismfermentation.com). She curated a physical and virtual exhibit on Queer Cookbook History. She has been actively engaged in feminist, food, and environmental politics. She was a co-manager of an organic farm from 2008-2012 and has worked on organic farms in Ireland and France. In 2009, she founded Farm House in Middletown, Connecticut, a living community dedicated to food politics work that continues today.

Accessible and Public Scholarship

Ketchum aims to create accessible versions of her scholarship. She created a freely available podcast version of her Introduction to Feminist and Social Justice Studies course, with transcripts for the 22 episodes. She developed the LGBTQIA2S+ Archives Directory (https://www.lgbtqarchives.com) to make queer archival research more accessible. With her research lab, she oversaw the creation of the Cyber Culture and Social Justice Directory. She curated a physical and virtual exhibit on McGill's student, faculty, and staff LGBTQIA2S+ activist history, with classroom and research resources. She created zines related to her research to make financially accessible print versions of her work (How to Start A Feminist Restaurant through Microcosm Publishing): https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/9138 and How to Organize Inclusive Events: A Handbook for Feminist, Accessible, and Sustainable Gatherings (2020), https://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/zines/8060). 

She publishes in journals such as Feminist StudiesFeminist Media Studies, and Digital Humanities Quarterly, but always aims to have an open access version of her work available. 

As she cares about research knowledge mobilization and public engagement, Ketchum frequently appears on the radio, podcasts, and does a large variety of media interviews and public events. 

For a full list of her publications and projects, go to alexketchum.ca.

Research Interests: Studying the role of technology, queer history, food, feminism, and environmentalism in 20th century social movements in the United States and Canada. Examining lesbian and feminist restaurants and cafes. Interested in past imaginings of utopia through business creation and the implementation of communications technologies.

Educational history: Ketchum's doctorate from McGill's Department of History was supported by the FRQSC (Fonds de Recherche du Quebec). Her dissertation focused on feminist restaurants, cafes, and coffeehouses in the United States and Canada from the 1972-1989. She has a MA in History and Women and Gender Studies also from McGill University and a Honors BA in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Wesleyan University.

email: alexandraketchum@gmail.com
twitter: @aketchum22
Instagram: @dr.alexketchum (https://www.instagram.com/dr.alexketchum/)