All parallel sessions are in the Sutherland Building

To download a booklet of all abstracts in a PDF format, please click here: Thinking Gender Justice Book of Abstracts.


PARALLEL PANELS, SESSION A: Tuesday 22nd May, 11.30-1.00pm



Sexualities, Methodologies and Feminism: Lesbians Queer Research

MARTA OLASIK (University of Warsaw): Towards Lesbian Research in Poland

The presentation will explore the possibilities and limitations of doing lesbian-centred research in the Polish social and academic reality. While feminism has been a poorly developed and recently contentious issue here—and a separate lesbian component has been non-existent—mine is an attempt at establishing a conceptual and empirical lesbian- studies discourse in the Polish academia. Using the interdisciplinary approach, I have been trying to encourage a social-sciences space dedicated to exploring specifically lesbian lives, where the reconciliation of the lesbian with the queer is the point of departure. With queer understood as a linguistic intervention, I therefore encourage the implementation of feminist epistemologies into social-sciences discourses. This, I believe, has to come through the introduction of human geography to relevant Polish departments and academic bodies, as well as the overall re-evaluation of the conceptual chaos around the notion of identity. This presentation will therefore focus on all the theoretical intricacies and institutional lacks that require fast solutions in order for non-heterosexual women in general, and lesbians in particular, to be acknowledged as subjects rather than objects. Above all, a suggestion will be made as to the prospective beginnings of proper empirical research and methods that would aim at developing the idea—and praxis—of a plurality of lesbian subjectivities and citizenships.

My area of expertise is lesbian studies, but spans across various fields, including sociology of sexuality, geographies of sexualities, and feminist epistemologies. My PhD dissertation is a pioneering interdisciplinary conceptualisation of lesbian subjectivities and aims at introducing a proper separate lesbian-studies discourse into the Polish academia. I am also interested in reclaiming a plurality of lesbian feminisms. My general objective is to promote an intertextual attitude, where the lesbian is an open field of possibilities for emotional and sexual self-creation.


CHRISTIANE CARRI (Protestant University of Applied Sciences Berlin/ Humboldt University Berlin): Demarginalizing Lesbian Parenthood in Germany

This paper examines the difficulties of doing research with socially and legally marginalized individuals by focussing on my current work on lesbian parenthood in Germany. Legal and shared parenthood of lesbians is not envisioned in the German legal system. Therefore, lesbian parenthood is only possible after lengthy process through court and child protection services. During these proceedings, lesbian parents find themselves under constant surveillance and in a painfully vulnerable position. I will focus on the challenges of doing interviews with subjects in legal proceedings and on the vulnerability in the research process. Despite the fear of losing/ not gaining their parental rights through the ongoing legal processes, the anger at the invisibility of the specific discrimination of lesbian parents by the state, within their extended families and by LGBT institutions became the underlying motivation for my research participants, on which I will focus this paper.

Christiane Carri is a visiting professor of social work and diversity at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Berlin. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from Humboldt University Berlin for which she received the Alice Salomon University of Applied Sciences & Doctoral Scholarship. Her thesis explored conceptualisations of madness and femininity in mental incapacity cases against women between 1900 and 1933 and has been published in German by Springer VS. As a trained social worker, she has worked at the Runaway House Berlin, a shelter for victims of compulsory psychiatric treatment. Her publications have dealt with anti-psychiatric alternatives to reformist psychiatry, psychiatrization and the history of sexuality. Christiane’s research interests include queer theory, queer pedagogy and gay and lesbian studies. Her current research project explores adoption psychological evaluations of lesbian parents in Germany.


OLU JENSEN (University of Brighton): NSFW and feminist research in online spaces

Today’s LGBTQ youth grew up with the internet and online LGBTQ resources and spaces are important to these communities. This paper explores aspects of methodological challenges when researching social media and online LGBTQ cultures. These include aspects that challenge the usability of longstanding terminology such as LGBTQ such as community

formations and/or clustering of expressions around completely different terms, not rooted in identity categories or a history of a social movement based on gender and sexuality rights, including internet nomenclature such as NSFW (not safe for work). This new term opens up both possibilities for rethinking sexual politics and gender norms whilst at the same time proving problematic from a feminist research point of view as it is steeped in hetero patriarchal discourse of private and public as well as serving to identify outputs of sexist and racist nature. This enquiry stems from my research with LGBTQ youth collecting both ethnographic data about their engagements with both LGBTQ social media counterpublics and the wider web, and their movement between these spheres. My research also includes close readings of online material identified as salient by the participants. NSFW stands for ‘Not Safe for Work’, implying (visual or textual) content that someone would not want to be seen viewing in place such as an office. Mostly, it simply refers to sexually explicit material, but is also used to label political views that are deemed non- mainstream. On the other hand the NSFW label may also serve to create spaces where it is possible (and safe-ish if not safe) to perform non-normative subjectivities (cf. Hodkinson, 2015; Tiidenberg and Gómez Cruz, 2015; Robards, 2018; Seko and Lewis 2018) and on social media platforms such as Tumblr (favoured by many of my research participants) signifies an online environment conducive for new community formations (Cho, 2015; Fink and Miller, 2013) beyond the LGBTQ categories. The paper raises questions about navigating NSFW discourses as a feminist researcher.

Dr Olu Jenzen is Principal Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Brighton,Her research ranges over different contemporary themes in Media Studies and Critical Theory with a particular interest in the politics of aesthetic form and the aesthetics of protest; and in popular culture as it intersects with debates of gender and sexualities, activism, marginalized communities, heritage, and social media. Current projects include an AHRC funded project on the Aesthetics of Protest and a University of Brighton funded social engagement award about the activist lives of young LGBTQ people.


STEFANIE BOULILA (University of Goettingen): Relationality and Queer Critique

Relationality has been lauded as a promising approach to move beyond universalist understandings of phenomena (Goldberg 2009, Lentin 2017), symptomatic to the liberal rights paradigm in LGBT politics (Biswas et al. 2016, Browne et al. 2015). This paper will evaluate the potential of relationality as a basis for a queer material critique. It will do so by querying how relationality, as a queer method, can solve some of the pressing theoretical and methodological issues, flagged up by recent queer of colour and postcolonial queer interventions (Rao 2004a, 2004b, Dhawan 2013). The paper will depart from Judith Butler’s (2004a, 2004b, 2009) notions of normative violence and ‘liveable lives’ to explore how relationality could be theorized as an alternative to comparative human rights approaches.

Stefanie Boulila is a postdoctoral researcher in the gender studies programme at the University of Goettingen (Germany). Before joining Göttingen she wrote her AHRC- funded PhD at the University of Leeds. She is currently finishing up her first monograph entitled;Race in Post-racial Europe: An Intersectional Analysis; which will come out with Rowman & Littlefield International and which explores how race unfolds its power within contemporary European gender and sexuality discourses. In 2017, Stefanie was elected to the board of ATGENDER, the European Association for Gender Research, Education and Documentation. Stefanie is also an associated expert at the Center for Intersectional Justice, a Berlin-based nonprofit organisation that combats intersecting forms of structural inequality and discrimination in Europe. Her work has appeared in the European Journal of Women’s Studies, the Journal Leisure Studies and several edited collections, including ‘Lesbian Geographies Gender, Place and Power’ (eds. Kath Browne, Eduarda Ferreira)


KATH BROWNE (Maynooth University) and CATHERINE NASH (Brock University): Reflections on Researching Heteroactivism: Journeys through Privilege and Vulnerability

This paper will reflect on our positionalities in relation our research on heteroactivism in the UK and Canada. This research brings us into contact with individuals and groups that object to the impact or implementation of Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans (LGBT) rights in these countries. In most cases, we are reading material or are overtly or covertly present at meetings and events where LGBT people and their families are criticized, maligned or denigrated. This research, constitutes a particular challenge for us as researchers, not only in professional terms but at a very personal and emotional level. In this paper, we explore the intersections of privilege (as tenured, white, professors, cisgendered, lesbian, and homonormative) and vulnerabilities (attacked or marginalized) in conducting this research. We examine the ways in which our privilege enables us to undertake the research but also consider the potential and actual emotional toll such work can take. In doing so, we seek to complicate current methodological concerns about the nature of the identity of the researcher and the marginalised/privileged dichotomies that have framed these debates. Geographically, conference spaces such as these remain central as affirming spaces that can help rebuild the reserves drained from such bruising heteroactivism experiences, highlighting how privilege and vulnerabilities are spatial.  Thus, at different moments we are affirmed through conferences and other moments of solidarity, within and beyond the research team, and challenged in dealing with people and material the contests our very existence. We also note our precariousness in terms of the academy, does this work reaffirm that which we seek to contest?  Should the focus be on only those affected by heteroactivisms?

Kath Browne: Kath Browne is a Professor in Geographies of Sexualities and Genders at Maynooth University. Her research interests lie in sexualities, genders and spatialities. She is the lead researcher on the Making Lives Liveable: Rethinking Social Exclusion’ research project and has worked on LGBT equalities, lesbian geographies, gender transgressions and women’s spaces. She works with Catherine Nash and Andrew Gorman Murray on understanding transnational resistances to LGBT equalities. She has authored a number of journal publications, co-wrote with Leela Bakshi Ordinary in Brighton: LGBT, activisms and the City (Ashgate, 2013), and Queer Spiritual Spaces (Ashgate, 2010), and co-edited The Routledge Companion to Geographies of Sex and Sexualities (Routledge, 2016) and Lesbian Geographies (Routledge, 2015). 

Catherine Jean Nash is a Professor of Geography at Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Her current research interests include changing urban sexual and gendered landscapes in Toronto; a focus on digital technologies and sexuality in everyday life; new LGBT mobilities; and a consideration of international resistances to LGBT equalities in Canada, the UK and Australia. She has a number of journal publications and her books include Queer Methods and Methodologies (2010) with K. Browne and An Introduction to Human Geography (Canadian Edition) (2015) with E. Fouberg, A. Murphy and H. de Blij. For more information see



Rape, Justice and the Law

REBECCA HELMAN (University of South Africa): Why are all rapes not grievable?

In a South African government health facility a few years ago, a nurse failed to recognise me as a ‘rape victim’ and instead asked who I was bringing for an appointment. I suspect this is because this facility, like many others targeted at survivors of sexual violence in South Africa, receives predominantly (poor) ‘black’ clients and I am ‘white’ and middle-class. This incident, both deeply uncomfortable and complex, has facilitated an interrogation of the ways in which current understandings and responses to sexual violence are deeply enmeshed with racialised constructions of personhood. The notion of whose rapes are recognised as shocking and horrific, and therefore grievable, is central to understanding how high rates of violence, including sexual violence, against women persist in post-1994 South Africa, despite the enshrinement of gender equality in our constitution. Neoliberal discourses of equality, freedom and choice mask the way in which colonial parameters of humanness, which cast both black men and womxn as not-human, shape contemporary access to freedom from violence. In situating my own experience of rape at the centre of my PhD I attempt to explore how individual experiences of rape are shaped by these inequitable discursive and material politics. This project is an attempt to deconstruct the processes by which certain instances of sexual violence come to be regarded as more damaging and abhorrent than others, and therefore the processes by which some ‘rape victims’ are positioned as more deserving of care and support.

Rebecca Helman is a PhD candidate at the University of South Africa (UNISA’s). She is also a researcher at UNISA’s Institute for Social and Health Sciences and the South African Medical Research Council-UNISA’s Violence, Injury and Peace Research Unit. Rebecca’s research interests include gender, violence and sexualities within post-colonial contexts. Her PhD, entitled ‘post-rape subjectivities’, which draws on on both autoethnographic and interview data, examines the ways in which those who have ‘survived’ sexual violence are able to make sense of their experiences in a context where dominant discourses construct survivors of sexual assault in destructive and unequal ways. Rebecca is currently a visiting researcher at the University of Edinburgh, sponsored by the Commonwealth Scholarship Committee.


ANANT PRAKASH NARAYAN (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi): The Criminal Amendment Laws in India: An Analysis

One of the major demands of feminist movements in India and elsewhere in the world has been the reform of anti-rape laws. The demands articulated during movements reflect departures in attitude from the traditional ways of thinking about sexual violence. India experienced one of its most popular mass movements on the question of women’s rights during December- January 2012-2013, particularly against sexual violence. The impact of the movement was so powerful that it finally led to the amendment of the rape law and other related laws. It all started on the night of 16 December 2012, when a young woman boarded a bus and was brutally gang-raped by six men. The feminist movement in India challenges both social and political disorders inherent in the notion of sexual violence time to time. These movements challenge foundational patriarchal notions around women, sexism and sexual. violence. This movement once again opens the debate on the nature of rape laws in India who has even now carried the old colonial values and notion about the rape survivor. The understanding is that Indian women faced a twofold challenge in colonial courtrooms. Not only were they subjected to British legal presumptions about false charges, but they also had to contend with specifically colonial ideas about the unreliability of native witnesses and other prejudicial ideas about Indian culture. In this paper, I will try to analyse the politics of rape law reform in India, and I will try to establish even after many amendments in the criminal laws related to the rape, the amendments and its interpretations are not ready to challenge the patriarchal understanding about the rape. The aims of paper is to prove that even after these amendments, the law has failed to recognise the sexual autonomy & freedom of the woman and how the patriarchal underpinnings remain intact in law that refuses to change the mindset about a rapist, a violator or a perpetrator.

Anant Prakash Narayan is a PhD Research Fellow at Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.


ELIAS WALKER VITULLI (Grinnell College, USA) ‘Designed to Abuse’: Crip Trans Epistemologies of US Carceral Sexual Violence’

In 2012, the US Department of Justice published the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape, which were an outcome of the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). Over the past ten years, state department of corrections also developed their own standards in response to PREA. The National Standards and many state standards identify trans prisoners as particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, offering unprecedented public policy recommendations for addressing this vulnerability. Meanwhile, trans prisoners and their advocates have reported that some prison administrators have used PREA to target trans prisoners for punishment and violence. Using a crip trans analytic—a critical reading practice that brings together crip theory and trans theory, with women of color feminist and queer of color critique’s epistemological frameworks—this talk will analyze PREA standards regarding trans prisoners alongside currently and formerly incarcerated trans people’s analysis of sexual violence within US penal institutions that articulate what I call carceral sexual violence as an institutionalized tool of control against bodyminds deemed abnormal and dangerous. While PREA standards articulate sexual violence within US penal institutions as a crisis of individual behavior and/or bad management practices, current and formerly incarcerated trans people articulate sexual violence as a normalized aspect of US carceral structures, logics, and control mechanisms. I will examine how crip trans epistemologies, especially those produced by currently and formerly incarcerated trans people, have critically examined and responded to US carceral power, producing important ways of knowing about US social formation and social change.

Elias Walker Vitulli is a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and History at Grinnell College, USA. His book project examines the history of US penal policies and practices regarding the management of gender nonconforming and trans prisoners. His work has appeared in GLQ, Social Justice, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, and Feminist Formations.


LOUISE ROONEY (University College Dublin): Gendered Perceptions and the ‘Ultimate Taboo’

A strong debate exists in the criminological literature as to whether males and females receive differential treatment from the criminal justice system. Some theorists claim that women are treated more leniently than men as a result of chivalrous/paternalistic attitudes, whilst others argue that a policy shift towards gender equality has resulted in similar treatment across offender gender. Alternatively, some theorists contend that women receive harsher treatment than men because they have not only broken the law but have breached the gender code of conduct and are perceived as doubly deviant. Research investigating the role of offender gender in criminal justice decision-making has produced mixed results, leaving unanswered the question of whether offenders are differentially treated across gender. A small body of research also reveals that women who contravene traditional gender-role norms by committing sexual crime toward children are treated more leniently than their male counterparts. Such lenience has been explained by some scholars in terms of the; denial’ thesis, which suggests that traditional sexual scripts regarding masculine and feminine norms influence how society reacts to particular kinds of behaviour. The present study explored whether gender-role stereotypes impact how male and female child sexual abusers are perceived and treated within the Irish context. This was achieved by implementing an innovative mixed-methods design with a sample of criminal justice practitioners and a sample of the general public. The focus of this presentation it to discuss the key findings yielded by the present research investigation and to deliberate possible implications for future research, policy and practice.

Louise is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at Applied Research for Connected Health (ARCH). She holds a PhD in Law from the Sutherland Law School, UCD and a Master of Science degree in Applied Forensic Psychology from the University of Leicester, UK. Her PhD research investigated the influence of gender-role stereotypes on criminal justice professionals’ perceptions of male and female offenders. Louise is a mixed-methodological researcher and has taught research methods to both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Sutherland School of Law, UCD and in Dublin Institute of Technology. She also has a background in applied behavioural analysis and has spent a number of years working with individuals on the Autistic Spectrum. Finally, Louise is a member of the Association of Criminal Justice Research and Development (ACJRD) and the European Society of Criminology’s working group on Gender, Crime & Justice.



The Ethics and Politics of Education

KIKI MARTIRE (University College Dublin): Trauma-Awareness in the Classroom: Establishing a Baseline of Care in Learning

This paper integrates the established field of education and the affective domain with trauma-informed responses to care ethic in the classroom. The previous absence of trauma in discussions of education, especially everyday forms of insidious trauma and micro-aggressions/oppressions, are particularly lacking in educational research and discussions. One of the greatest unmet needs in education is the acknowledgment and treatment of trauma and its effects. This paper begins from a baseline of understanding that a sufficient educational environment, and especially an emancipatory educational environment, must not only be led by an ethic of care, but also be trauma informed. If educational environments do not provide an understanding of the effects of trauma and of structural oppressions, they are failing learners by continuing the persistent silence around traumatic experiences and their effects on the mind and body. Such a response perpetuates unjust harms, and the message that oppressed groups are to blame for their suffering and responsible for their recovery.

By drawing on a wide range of academic disciplines and scholars, this paper argues that a truly emancipatory education must be trauma informed and trauma centred, in its approach. This includes problemitising insidious forms of oppression that take root in the mind and body through state enacted biopower. This is a bare minimum response to breaking cycles of violence and complicity that encourage the idea that trauma is rare rather than habitual. For years writers and activists have politicised and publicised traumas historically relegated to the private domain, but what role does, and indeed should, education have to play in such a feat?

Kiki Martire is a writer and activist originally from Baltimore, Maryland and currently based in Dublin, Ireland. They received a Masters of Science in Equality Studies from University College Dublin and have a Bachelor degree in English, Women’s and Gender Studies, and International Immersion. They currently are Outreach and Training Officer for where they design and facilitate educational workshops for youth and youth workers on various topics concerning the holistic wellbeing of young people and the de-stigmatisation of historically stigmatised mental and physical health concerns. Kiki’s previous activistic interests include work in ‘toxic masculinity’ awareness, consent education, bystander intervention, and other approaches to primary prevention of gender based violence. Their academic research explores themes of  trauma-informed responses to systemic violence and abuse, therapeutic cultures, queer safety and healing, radical care ethic, and politicized vulnerability. 


VASILENA VASILEVA: The state of the early childhood education sector as a feminist issue

The state of the Early Childhood education sector needs to be recognised as a feminist issue, which impacts not only the nearly 20 000 women who work in early childhood settings but the life choices of the mothers of 187 000 children enrolled in these settings (Pobal, 2017). The provision, quality and affordability of care for young children impacts profoundly the opportunities women can have once they become mothers. In 2016 there were 40 times more women who were caring for the home/family than men (CSO, 2016), making it clear that caring duties are still predominantly undertaken by females. The average yearly fees for a child in full-time urban childcare, was over 9000 euro in 2016-17, making childcare a big financial burden for many families. On the other hand, the women working in EC settings earn on average 11.93 euro per hour (Pobal, 2017), effectively subsidizing the sector with their low wages. Why is then the state of the early childhood education and care sector, which contributes to the gender inequality in Ireland, not a discussed feminist issue? Even though there is a SIPTU campaign aiming to improve the way the ECE sector is funded, neither the educators nor the parents of young children have managed to bring the discussion to the public eye. It seems that the women suffering from the sector’s bad work conditions and its high fees need wider societal support in order to engage with the issue and make themselves heard. That truly is a feminist issue.

Vasilena Vasileva is an Early Childhood Educator with years of experience working with young children and their families in Bulgaria, the United Kingdom and Ireland. She holds a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Marino Institute of Education and a Bachelors degree in Economics. Her interests include social equality, gender development in early childhood and the relationship between the early childhood sector and parent’s participation in the workforce.


SHERYL FAIRCHILD (Sacramento City College, USA): Breaking the silence, reshaping feminist pedagogy: voices of returning women students in community college

Showing up at college is an act of courage for returning women students, their aspirations pressing against a strong current of negative images about adult learning and the place of older women in higher education. These women are also moving with self-determination towards shared cultural ideologies about the promise of an education. My research resists a twofold erasure in feminist literature. First, scholarship employs a class-based synecdoche where “the university” stands for higher education as a whole; this way of imagining college as a single category erases community colleges and its students, where the majority is economically and socially disadvantaged. Thinking about “the academy” in this way misses the fact that 46% of students who earn four-year degrees attend community colleges as part of their post-secondary education. This incomplete picture extends to Women’s Studies as an academic field which neglects to theorize community colleges as sites for feminist teaching and gender justice work. Second, the voices and subjectivities of non-traditional students are neglected in educational and feminist research. To resist these erasures, I present a qualitative study situated at a community college and bringing forth original voices of older women students narrating their experiences of going back to school. I argue that the insights offered by returning women have changed my practice as a feminist teacher. I further argue that by incorporating issues of ageism into my curriculum and opening up creative ways of expressing knowledge in my classroom, I have expanded opportunities for moments of justice for my students.

Sheryl Fairchild is Adjunct Professor and Program Coordinator for Women and Gender Studies at Sacramento City College in Sacramento, California, USA. She is a doctoral student in Global Women’s Studies at National University of Ireland Galway. Her dissertation examines questions about feminist pedagogies related to teaching Global Women’s Studies at the community college, and theorizing specifically about student’s political subjectivities. Prior research included a qualitative study of older women who return to college entitled Breaking the Silence, Reshaping Feminist Pedagogy: Voices of Returning Women Students in Community College. Research interests include returning women college students, Women’s Studies teaching at community colleges, feminist pedagogy, and globally-oriented feminist pedagogies.