PARALLEL SESSIONS

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.

 

PANEL 5

Body Surveillance & Digital Activism, Gender Management & Resistance

MICHAEL BANE (National College of Ireland) [Title TBC]

Men’s’ bodies have become increasingly more visible in the fields of entertainment, fashion and marketing (Nixon 1992), propelling males into chasms of objectification and entrepreneurial self ‘body projects’ or ‘bodywork’ which have afflicted women for decades (Winch & Hakim 2017, Elliott & Patterson 2004, Shilling 1993, Crossley 1991). Some men welcome and aspire to the body type ideals purported by this ‘Spornosexual’ culture (Simpson 2014) wherein muscular and fit male physiques constitute social and erotic capital (Hakim 2010, Bourdieu 1984) in the wake of neoliberalist emasculation (Hakim 2015). This propulsion to ideal physiques, while invigorating to some, is problematic for considerable sways of young men – reporting negative body images, as well as, psychological and eating disorders if their own bodies do not mirror those projected in social and mass media (Winch & Hakim 2017, Diedrichs & Lee 2010, Grogan & Richards 2002). The ubiquitous nature of these ideals and images has resulted in young audiences constantly engaging in self- surveillance and for men, this has meant the inversion of the ‘male gaze’ where men assume the object position and are given licence to scrutinise the bodies of other men. Academic solutions offered are currently under researched which will constitute the main thrust of my Phd study – such as the appetite for widening the diversity of body types targeting young men in advertising and popular media (Barry & Phillips 2016).

Michael Bane a Marketing Lecturer with the National College of Ireland, He has h been fascinated with contemporary advertising portrayals purporting to be social marketing/CSR related. His MSc dissertation investigated women’s brand perceptions/purchase intentions towards ‘real women’ portrayals in advertising (e.g.: Dove/the Body Shop/etc.) and he is eager to explore men’s affinity and/or aversion towards ideal body types.

 

SOFIA P. CALDEIRA (Ghent University): Exploring the political potential of self-representation on Instagram: a case study of the body-positive @effyourbeautystandards Instagram account

Contemporary popular media seems to continue to generally privilege a narrow and

exclusionary feminine beauty ideal, that is often limited to thin and flawless bodies (Engeln-

Maddox 2006). Yet this limited range of media representation is often met with criticism and is frequently exposed as both unrealistic and unachievable. This presentation explores the possibility of using social media, particularly Instagram, as a critical platform to counter these limited beauty standards. It focus on the case study of the @effyourbeautystandards Instagram account, a body positive account that aims to question the socially constructed beauty ideals by sharing self- representations of ‘ordinary’ women (i.e. non-models or celebrities) who feel that they do not fit the current beauty standards. The @effyourbeautystandards account allows to explore the political potential of self- representation on social media, both in terms of everyday activism (Vivienne and Burgess 2012) and as a more overt fourth-wave feminist effort (Chamberlain 2017; Munro n.d.). This account claims a openly political stance, emphasizing intersectional concerns and adopting strategies of empowering exhibitionism (Tiidenberg 2014), as a way to increase public visibility and normalize diversity. Yet this research seeks to maintain a critical approach, recognizing the postfeminist sensibilities (Gill 2016) underlying the account, namely, its emphasis on fashion and beauty. Furthermore, the institutional constraints (Thumim 2012) of Instagram use and the ways in which other users feedback can serve as a way to discipline non-conforming representations (Burns 2015) are also recognized as potentially limiting the political impact of these kinds of projects.

Sofia Caldeira is a Ph.D. candidate at Ghent University, conducting a research project on representations of femininity on Instagram and women’s glossy fashion magazines, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT).

 

SANTINA SORRENTI (University of Oxford): A Gender-Free Future? Re-fashioning virtual spaces through the queer aesthetic and materialising a postgender world

How do gender non-conforming identities reconfigure normative views of gender binary systems through onlinefashion activism? How does this aesthetic activism represent a form of feminist agency for the (virtual) queer body? This research explores how the circulation of fashion and ‘gender bending’ style images on social media could be a form of alternative archiving methods for gender ‘diverse’ narratives. Research engages with both queer theory as well as techno materialist and techno-feminist theoretical approaches to assess how this form of activism may be both an emancipatory practice for non binary identities and an inclusivity endeavour that works to transform ideological conceptions of gender in feminist discourse and gender-based movements. Aesthetics and creative practices are typically underrepresented in feminist and activist discourse. The aim is to trace forms of agency and self reflexivity of ‘minoritarian’ identities in virtual spaces and explores the practicesand mediations of subjectivity and the political and philosophical debates surrounding digital, nomadic and gender diverse identity formation online. This presentation will look at UK and USA gender nonconforming social media icons to assess how fashion images and videos they post on Instagram can contribute to a larger form of resistance in queer cultural practice that could foster new understandings of gender. My current research will be connected to my current project, G(end)er Swap, and why there is a need for more safe (queer) spaces and changing perceptions of who and what fashion is meant for.

Santina Sorrenti is a M.St Women’s Studies candidate at the University of Oxford. Santina holds a BA (Hons) in International Studies (Leiden University, Netherlands) and has studied Philosophy and Cultural Studies (Yonsei University, South Korea). Their current research explores how gender nonconforming individuals utilize social media to found new perceptions of gender through aesthetic activism. Prior to their studies, Santina worked as a mental health worker with a harm reduction NGO in Vancouver, Canada that provided support for individuals facing homelessness, addiction and mental health concerns. Santina has worked with Vancouver Women’s Rape Relief Shelter and the Vancouver Health Collective that allows marginalised women identified individuals to access sexual

health services and resources in Canada. In the UK, Santina is the founder of G(end)er Swap, a London based outreach initiative that supports gender non-conforming individuals to access clothes in a safe space.

 

CORINA SHEERIN (National College of Ireland): Organizational Practices, Gender Performance and Disruptions: An Exploratory Study

Drawing on the work of Judith Butler (1990,1993) and West and Zimmerman (1987), this study examines how both men and women perform their gender in the Irish investment management sector. The ideology underpinning this research is that ‘gender is always a doing’ rather than a pre-defined and ones gender identity ‘is performatively constituted by the very “expressions” that are said to be its results’ (Butler, 1990, p. 33). Using a feminist lens and interpretivist perspective this study examines how men and women perform their gender within this masculine organizational setting. Also considered is whether the women in this space (un)do their femininity and in doing so does such behavior disrupt the assumed gender binary? The findings from the study indicate that the culture of the sector as well as the organizational structures and norms are imbued with male traits. There is a hyper-masculinized performance of gender by men evident. For women a double bind is faced and daily attempts to simultaneously do and (un)do gender in order to conform often lead to censure. The findings indicate that despite the disruptions of gender present in the sector the patriarchal dominance of men remains resolute and a clear binary of masculinity and femininity remains in place.

 

Dr Corina Sheerin is a multidisciplinary researcher. Her doctoral research which was underpinned by a feminist stance and was mixed method in approach focused on the recruitment, progression and retention of women in Investment Management. It was the first study of its kind in an Irish context. Post doctorate, Corina has published in the Management, Finance and Human Resource Management domain. Her current work considers patriarchial spaces and the performance of gender in same. Most recently, she has completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Social Justice at University College Dublin (UCD).

 

PANEL 6

Maternal Subjectivities

KATE ANTOSIK-PARSONS (University College Dublin): Conceiving the maternal subject: entanglements of the maternal in the work of EL Putnam

This paper examines the recent artwork of EL Putnam, interdisciplinary works composed of performance, sound, video and interactive digital technologies interrogate citizenship and social responsibility and considering gender and sexuality from multiple perspectives. Originally from the United States, Putnam’s move to Ireland in 2013 saw her performances incorporate insightful observations on the historical, political and cultural specificities of Ireland. This has been underpinned by her experiences of becoming a mother in Ireland, resulting in motherhood, the act of mothering and maternal subjectivity emerging as critical points of engagement. In this paper I focus on two recent works, Fertile Ground (2017) and Ember (2017), examining how Putnam juxtaposes traditional, ‘feminine’ crafts with cutting edge digital technology. By incorporating seemingly disparate media, Putnam’s work renders visible processes relating to experiential knowledge making. This paper investigates how the processes and the technologies utilised in Putnam’s works meditate the body, and considers the potential this presents for the transmission and reception of the maternal subject. Furthermore, I argue that the various entanglements of mothering and maternal subjectivities in Putnam’s work offers timely and compelling commentary on the cultural significance attached the maternal subject in Ireland.

Dr. Kate Antosik-Parsons is a contemporary art historian and visual artist with a PhD in Art History from University College Dublin (2012). Kate is a Research Associate of the UCD Humanities Institute. Her interdisciplinary research is concerned with gender, sexuality, embodiment and memory. Kate has published essays on performance and video artists including Suzanne Lacy, Amanda Coogan, Pauline Cummins, Willie Doherty, Jaki Irvine, Alanna O’Kelly and Áine Phillips. She is currently writing a monograph on Irish art, embodied politics and reproductive injustices in 20th century Ireland.

 

EL PUTNAM (Dublin Institute of Technology): Strange Mothers: Toward a Digital Aesthetic of Interruption

Bringing together philosophies of the maternal with digital technology may initially appear as an arbitrary pairing, though reading them intertextually through select artistic works and practices reveals how both encompass an aesthetics of interruption. Lisa Baraitser describes the maternal subject as one of interruption, where interruptions are not considered aberrations, but form the grounding of the maternal subject. Instead of treating these interruptions, and their affiliated challenges, as negative, Baraitser notes how they allow the mother to become re-attuned to ways of being in the world, making the maternal subject as one that is always becoming. In this paper, I investigate how certain artists (including Aideen Barry and myself) use digital media as a means of rupturing existing representations of the maternal, creating artworks that take advantage of formal properties of digital media in order to interrupt visual and aural constructions by means of an intentional, immanent merging of the performing body with digital technology. Drawing from Maurizio Lazzarato’s critique of the performative, I argue that by placing emphasis on the maternal subject as one of interruption provides insight into alternative groundings for digital subjectivity through a shared aesthetics of interruption. Moreover, the maternal enunciations emerging from the discussed examples can be treated as models for disruptive forms of subjectivity that defy current modes of assimilation. Motherhood, and related subjectivities, are not just rendered strange, but provide a means of cultivating steadfast positions in the uncanniness of digitally mediated existence.

Dr. EL Putnam is a visual artist, scholar, and writer working predominately in performance art, video, sound, and interactive media. Her work draws from multiple themes and sources, including explorations of gender and sexuality, play, materialism, and the study of place, which she investigates through personal and cultural lenses. Her research focuses on continental aesthetic philosophy, performance studies, digital studies, and feminist theory. She is member of the artists’ groups Mobius (Boston) and Bbeyond (Belfast). Originally from the United States, she currently teaches Visual Culture, Art History and Theory at the Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland.

 

LIZ QUIRKE (National University of Ireland Galway): Beyond the ‘transgressor mother’: situating non-biological lesbian motherhood within Irish poetry

Adrienne Rich’s ‘The transgressor mother’ begins with a reference to the Costa Gravas film “Missing”, a piece of film which presents a heteronormative family structure as possessing “parent- child bonds stronger than any ideology”. This acts as a foreground to Rich’s celebration of Minnie Bruce Pratt’s poetry collection Crime Against Nature in which Pratt, a feminist lesbian poet, explores her maternal love for her two sons, her identity as a lesbian mother and the transgressive nature of motherhood as enacted by a lesbian. Pratt’s work, according to Rich, is at a poetic crossroads in the American tradition because it explores lesbian love, motherhood and the emotional geography within which those loves are enacted.

My presentation will situate my artistic practice as an extension of this lesbian feminist tradition but place it in a contemporary Irish context. Whereas Pratt is writing within the American Women’s Liberation Movement, my work is being created in the context of my identity as an Irish lesbian deconstructing and reconfiguring a nuclear family structure in that I am civilly married and raising two children within that unit. I intersect with Pratt in that our “transgressions” in terms of motherhood differ: she, as a lesbian, was the biological mother of her children and they were removed from her custody due to her sexuality; I, as a lesbian, am the non-biological mother of my children and the manifestation and that experience of that motherhood in a contemporary Irish context is not without social and political challenges.

Liz Quirke is an Irish poet who is pursuing a PhD through Creative Practice at NUI Galway. Her debut collection The Road, Slowly will be published by Salmon Poetry in April 2018 with Martina Evans referring to the collection as “lyrical and universal” and Leanne O’Sullivan saying the poems contain “a moving study of the ways in which we mother and in which we love.” The Road, Slowly weaves through Quirke’s experience of becoming a wife and mother within a lesbian relationship. The poems consider same-sex parenting in modern Ireland along with the poet’s experiences of non- biological motherhood in a collection that celebrates a new Irish non-nuclear family. Quirke’s poetry considers what it means to be female, societal perceptions of lesbian families and occasions when motherhood is enacted outside of biological essentialism. Quirke’s PhD project is focused on issues around gender dynamics in Irish poetry and poetry publishing. Noirin MacNamara (Queen’s University Belfast) ‘In what exactly do we trust? Matrixial difference and desire as key concepts for coalitional politics’

 

NOIRIN MACNAMARA (Queen’s University Belfast): In what exactly do we trust? Matrixial difference and desire as key concepts for coalitional politics

Emotional labour, or the work responsiveness, is an entirely necessary part of political action.  Drawing on Chandra T Mohanty’s (1991) work on the assumptions which underlie first world feminism’s views on agency, Judith Butler argues that coalitions need to be developed through modes of cultural translation which are not about appreciating various positions or asking for recognition in a way which assumes fixed locations or subject-positions.  Butler argues that we need a concept of cultural translation which accepts and facilitates the range of beliefs and modes and means of agency which bring us to coalitional politics.  This paper provides an overview of an Ettingerian concept of subjectivity.  I argue that the Ettingerian concepts of difference as differentiation-in-jointness and desire as a desire for borderlinking, at a transubjective level, usefully supplement Butler’s account of cultural translation.  It points to and illuminates both the difficulties and possibilities for creativity in practices of alliance at multiple levels of subjectivity.  I argue that, at a minimum, the Ettingerian concepts of difference and desire provide a better understanding of the work and anxiety which are part of practices of alliance that seek to alter existing matrices of power.

Dr. Noirin MacNamara completed her doctorate in 2016 on political subjectivity, responsiveness and futurity in the work of Judith Butler and Bracha Ettinger.  Since then she has worked as a research assistant on three projects related to reproductive justice and rights.  She is currently researching the intersections between theoretical perspectives on political subjectivities, coalitional politics and reproductive justice.

 

PANEL 7

Race, Borders, Vulnerabilities

TARA MCGUINNESS (University College Dublin): An examination of how whiteness operates in migration processes- a focus on São Paulo, Brazil

This study aims to address issues of racial inequality by inverting the lens and looking at the movement of white bodies across borders. By inverting the lens, this research aims to ask the question; how do white bodies live in spaces which are complexly racially structured and, where wealth and power are concentrated among whites? What is the role of white normativity and white privilege in this phenomonen? Examining how whiteness as a racial identity operates in migration processes aims to analyse the asymmetrical experiences of raced bodies as they move from one place to another in our globalised world. The concept of white privilege (McIntosh 2001) is central in researching privileged bodies in migratory processes in contrast to the marginalised, impoverished and subjugated lives of those who live at ‘the margins of belonging’ (Lewis 2004:4). This study is focused on white skin privilege and the relationship white migrants have to their spatial context. Focusing this study in Sao Paulo provides a context in which white and non-white groups inhabit space differently with whiter inhabitants living in central locations. Additionally, the city of Sao Paulo, spatially inhabited by race and class (Caldeira 2000) is the ideal context in exploring the migratory body through the lens of whiteness. Additionally, a focus on gender inequality is central to the study through an examination of gendered relations and power structures which feed a global hierarchy of inequality between women from the global north and the global south.

Tara McGuinness is a full-time PhD student at UCD’s school of Social Work, Social Policy and Social Justice. She completed her MA in Women, gender and society in 2015 at UCD. Her thesis explored the replacement of domestic work through the use of migrant domestic workers in Ireland. Her PhD research is an examination of how whiteness operates in migration processes in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She has a particular interest in qualitative methods, specifically autoethnography and the inclusion of creative writing techniques in academic studies.

 

AMANDA KEANE (UN Women Offices, Hanoi): “Con cuidado chicas”: A feminist autoethnographic exploration of female fear, gendered bodily discipline and resiliences in Mexico City

This autoethnographic research is an exploration of the female fear, gendered bodily discipline and resiliences as experienced by a foreign volunteer working in a community centre in La Merced, Mexico City. The centre provides support and accompaniment to women and girls in situations of street prostitution in the neighbourhood, and is a part of a wider, Christian ethos organisation which tackles human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Mexico. Throughout this two-month volunteer placement, the author of this research experienced a range of embodied encounters such as fear, sexual harassment, and bodily discipline while negotiating the unfamiliar environment of Mexico’s largest red-light district, La Merced, and the wider spatial context of Mexico City. The female fear was primarily experienced due to the author’s perceived vulnerability in the criminalised and sexualised space of La Merced, and exacerbated by numerous experiences of street sexual harassment in Mexico City. To feel safer, the author adopted new routines and habits which are conceptualised in this research as gendered bodily discipline. Finally, there were sites and moments of resilience which emerged throughout the time spent in Mexico and upon returning to Ireland. Through the use of autoethnography, the author’s emotionality and vulnerability are exposed in this research and then analysed and expanded upon using feminist and gender theories related to fear, embodiment and feminist resilience.

In 2016 Amanda began the MA in Women, Gender and Society in UCD, and in the summer of 2017 she was funded by an Irish organisation to spend two months volunteering with survivors of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Mexico City. The experience had a profound impact on her in many ways; dispelling many pre-conceived ideas she had about prostitution, and challenging her understanding of my own positionality, privileges and feminism. The detailed personal journal she kept throughout her time working in a community centre in Mexico’s largest red-light district eventually became the source material for an autoethnographic MA dissertation. For the past 4 years her day-job has been in hospitality, while volunteering in community organisations which focus on empowerment. However, in February of 2018 she begin a role as a UN Youth Volunteer in Gender Equality in Ethnic Minorities in the UN Women offices in Hanoi, Vietnam.

 

BENIAMIN KLANIECKI (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan): ‘Is justice a woman or a man? Representations of gendered justice in recent Nigerian novels

In Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe granted Nigeria the right to its pre-colonial history, to self-definition as a nation and to the establishment of a Nigerian man’s selfhood. Achebe’s novels responded to the racist discourses of colonial literature of Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling by reclaiming their authority of narration and redirecting their colonial gaze. The first generation of Nigerian authors rewrote the Western canon and introduced to it the subject of a struggle for recognition and justice faced by postcolonial men in their shaping of independent Nigeria. However, this process appears today as a distinctly male experience. A reaction to that can be seen in the works of third-generation novelists, whose narratives further develop the subject of Nigerian identity and its claim for justice while including a more feminine perspective. Therefore, in the present paper I intend to trace the trajectories of gender-formation with regard to the question of justice in the literature of selected first- and third-generation Nigerian writers with a particular interest in the close reading of two recent novels, Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen (2015) and Chibundu Onuzu’s The Spider King’s Daughter (2012). While the justice sought by men in those narratives proves unattainable in its entanglement in the issues of citizenship, revenge, honour and independence from the demons of colonial imagery, native beliefs, global capital and Western education, the actual justice is achieved by a woman, who gains recognition by dismissing the feminine domestic ideal, and thus becomes the chronicler of the new female Nigeria.

Beniamin Kłaniecki, MA – a PhD candidate at the Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. His main research interests include masculinity, postcolonial and queer studies as well as their application to the study of contemporary British and Commonwealth literatures. He has published articles in journals and collected volumes. In 2017, he earned a master’s degree in English after defending his thesis, entitled Ecriture homosexuelle: A case study of Bruce Chatwin’s writings, which was intended as a queer contribution to the tradition of écriture féminine. He is the recipient of Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education scholarship for outstanding academic achievements.

 

HASRET CETINKAYA (National University of Ireland Galway), ‘Rethinking Rights in a Post-Colonial Frame: Identity, Power, and ‘Namus’

This paper will seek to investigate how human rights law can be rethought in order to better accommodate the life of women living under ‘namus’. ‘Namus’ refers in Kurdish and Turkish to women’s virtue in matters related to sexual honour, and manifests in its most extreme material form in the act of ‘namus/honour-killings’. Taking ‘namus’ to be an embodied and constitutive element of women’s lives and identities in their communities and drawing upon the theoretical resources of the work of Judith Butler, this paper seeks to think the limitations of human rights approaches in offering greater bodily autonomy for these women. It does so without negating the complexity and embodied nature of those discourses of ‘namus’ which not only constrain their bodily autonomy, but also provide them with recognition, security and agency in those cultural contexts in which they are situated. Liberal feminist and human rights projects all too often assume the desire of women to escape these discursive constraints, and project a western notion of womanhood and liberty, without acknowledging how the performative construction of womanhood and freedom is cultural, contextual, and saturated with power (Abu-Lughod). The question is whether human rights can offer an identity for these women, which enables them to gain greater bodily autonomy, without placing them in the bind of rejecting their constitution within and through the discourse of ‘namus’.

Hasret Cetinkaya is a PhD Candidate at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland. Her PhD research concerns the role of Kurdish kinship structures and gender relations in the homeland and in the diaspora, and how these are problematised by human rights law. She is particularly interested in gender, embodiment, identity and power.

 

PARALLEL PANEL SESSION C: 11.15-12.45pm

PANEL 8

Queer Asylum & the Deportation Regime

Dara Silberstein (State University of New York at Binghamton) ‘Creating Safe Spaces for Queer Muslim Refugees’

Within Western, developed countries, there has been a growing awareness of the ways in which gender non-conforming people endure a range of hardships such as homelessness and unemployment.  Despite this awareness there have been increasing numbers of transgender people who are targets of violence. GLAAD notes that in the United States during 2016 there were more than 21 transgendered people killed and in the first 3 months of 2017 there have been 8 transgendered women of color killed. There are estimates that at least 50% of LGBT individuals who have suffered violent attacks are transgendered.  (Office for Victims of Crime). Reports from the United Kingdom indicate similar patterns as there was an estimated 170% increase in transphobic hate crimes in 2016 (The Independent, July 28, 2016). The increase in violence in the West makes it problematic to view these countries as safe havens for transgender refugees as many will face similar patterns of violence that they experienced in their countries and communities of origin. In 2013 the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) published its “Resettlement Assessment Tool: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Refugees.” This “tool” acknowledges that “first asylum countries” such as those in the Middle East and North Africa {MENA) often have laws criminalizing cross-dressing and other gender non-conforming behavior. This paper will critique reliance upon Western means for conveying “queer friendly” spaces and, in particular, how crimes against gender non-conforming people in the West may impact whether refugees seek asylum because of their gender identities.

Dara J. Silberstein is currently Research Associate Professor of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Binghamton University. She received her Juris Doctorate from SUNY Buffalo in 1985 and is a licensed attorney.  She received her Ph.D. in labor history from Cornell University in 1995. Throughout her career she has focused on social justice issues particularly in the way laws operate to marginalize women and members of the LGBTQ communities.  Her early research on employment and labor laws specifically dealt with the historical impact of employment laws on women’s family and reproductive

lives. She is currently working on a project that looks at the plight of LGBTQ Muslim refugees during their resettlement.

 

RACHEL LEWIS (George Mason University, USA): Queering Deportability: Lesbian Asylum Seekers and the Global Deportation Regime

Building on recent work in queer migration studies that engages with the social construction of the undocumented migrant, this paper explores the socio-legal production of lesbian migrant deportability in the context of the political asylum process. Despite the newly emerging body of scholarship devoted to theorizing deportation, there has been relatively little attention to the ways that gender and sexuality, along with race, class, nationality, and geopolitical location, produce particular migrants as deportable subjects. And yet, lesbian refugees and asylum-seekers are at particular risk of detention and deportation as a result of political asylum policies. As the Women for Refugee Women charity has documented, in the United Kingdom, for example, at least 340 lesbian asylum seekers are placed in immigration detention every year and half of those women in detention are deported before their cases are granted a full hearing (WFRW, 2016). Given the disproportionately negative impact of political asylum policies on lesbian migrants, it is perhaps not surprising that new forms of lesbian anti-deportation activism are emerging to contest the global detention and deportation regime. Through an analysis of lesbian anti-deportation activism produced by the U.K.’s Movement for Justice campaign, I argue that accounting for the specific vulnerabilities of lesbian migrants means going beyond an approach that sees detainability and deportability primarily as labor-related issues or in terms of economic migration, but instead necessitates a feminist, queer, and intersectional understanding of the processes through which lesbian migrant deportability is produced and experienced.

Rachel Lewis is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Women and Gender Studies Program at George Mason University. Her research and teaching interests include transnational feminisms, queer theory, media and cultural studies, sexuality, race and immigration, human rights, transnational sexualities, and feminist and queer disability studies. She has published articles in Feminist Formations, Sexualities, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Social Justice, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, and Music & Letters.

 

ELIZABETH GIBSON (George Mason University, USA): This Is Not For You, This Is For All Of Us’: Coalitional Politics and Undocumented Transgender Migrant Resistance

In June 2015, Transwoman and UnDocuQueer activist, Jennicet Gutiérrez, publically disrupted a White House LGBT Pride celebration, exhorting the President to, “release all LGBTQ immigrants from detention and stop all deportations!” In this paper, I will leverage a close reading of Gutiérrez’ protest to highlight the exclusion of the queer migrant from the homonationalist citizen imaginary that informed and motivated her protest, while simultaneously engendering an antipathic response from the gay pride attendees. Building on the theorizations of homonationalism of Puar (2007) and others, I will suggest that the queer citizen activism that had informed queer migration policy has fractured into homonormative gays and racialized queer others, committing migrants, especially trans migrants, to an exilic precarity outside the liminal spaces of intelligible neoliberal citizenry. I will examine the politics of undocumented migrant vulnerability, and explore the use of vulnerability in protest. I will conclude by addressing the coalitional politics of the UndocuQueer movement and gesture towards paradoxical strategies of resistance that might be employed in an agonistic campaign for migrant rights.

 

CARA BROPHY-BROWNE & TARA LOUISE MORRISON (Banbha Theatre Company/Trinity College Dublin): The Re/Presentation Workshops: A Theatrical Praxis for Borders and Binaries

BANBHA Theatre Company create ensemble driven, feminist theatre that re-stages silenced or forgotten narratives and histories through a unique performative praxis. By beginning every project with extensive theoretical research and maintaining comprehensive archives throughout the process, BANBHA blur the lines between activism and art, politics and performance, and theory and theatre. In 2017, BANBHA worked with members of the organisation LGBTQI+ Refugees In Greece to devise THE RE//PRESENTATION WORKSHOPS; a theatre piece that demonstrated how queer narratives are further displaced and disrupted within the wider context of the influx of dispossessed peoples from the East into Europe. Supported by Gayatri Spivak’s understanding of re-presentation, the directors and ensemble entered into a workshop process that culminated in a performance which explored the lives, experiences, and politics of the cast in order to challenge its audience to rethink their preconceptions about the issues faced by a group of LGBTQI+ refugees in Europe. Through a live-stream that was hosted in multiple locations around the world from Dublin to Dubai, THE RE//PRESENTATION WORKSHOPS also offered an interrogation of the digital and cultural representations of queer refugees in a global context, in an experiment that attempted to transcend international borders through art and activism. In a presentation that will include video, photo, and text extracts from THE RE//PRESENTATION WORKSHOPS the potential for affective and affirming art that accurately re-presents the subject will be examined. BANBHA will retrospectively problematise the development of a theatrical praxis in the borderlands between theoretical research, activism, and art.

Cara Brophy-Browne and Tara Louise Morrison are final year students of Drama and Theatre Studies in Trinity College Dublin, and the co-founders and directors of BANBHA Theatre Company. Founded in 2015, BANBHA Theatre Company aims to explore how theatre and activism can meet, collaborate and become a medium for change. In 2016 BANBHA staged The WIN, a documentary play about the Women’s Information Network (Smock Alley – Scene + Heard, Filmbase – Bread & Roses), and in 2017 devised THE RE//PRESENTATION WORKSHOPS with an ensemble of cast members from the organisation LGBTQI+ Refugees Welcome Greece (Embros Theatre, ATRL). As well as mounting full-scale productions, BANBHA also facilitate workshops with migrants and asylum seekers in Dublin and Athens (Dublin City Intercultural Language Service, LGBTQI+ Refugees Welcome Greece, and Khora Community Centre). BANBHA are currently working on a gallery installation that will exhibit an archive of their work with LGBTQI+ Refugees entitled THE RE//PRESENTATION ROOMS.

PANEL 9

Contesting Normativity through Digital and Popular Culture

JOSHUA D. SAVAGE (Maynooth University): (In)visible Queer Representation and Identification in Localised Digital Games

Digital games and game cultures have attracted attention in recent years as venues in which there exists active resistance to users and representations that are not cisgender, male, and straight. This paper examines one facet of this issue through an investigation of representation and player identification in a pair of mainstream popular digital game series localised from Japan to the West, the Fire Emblem series (Nintendo, 1990-) and the Tales Of series (Bandai Namco Entertainment, 1995-), and additional texts (both industry- and user-generated) that have arisen around them. Using theorists including Shapiro (2015), Buchbinder (2012), and Shaw (2010) as a lens, the paper looks at queer codings of characters in these games that include ambiguities allowing players to ignore or deny these representations. These codings are examined in both their original and localised contexts, as well as how they have been interpreted in user-generated discourse, including debate (and abuse) that has arisen online as a result of their inclusion. Resistance to representation of non-normative sexualities is not unique to digital games: diverse representations are increasingly important to non-straight or non-cis-male players, but this same diversity is also perceived negatively by hegemonic masculine players who resist identification with different gender identities and sexual orientations. While previous research suggests that identification in digital games parallels that in other media, this paper asks if the interactive, often avatar-centred nature of digital gaming creates more salient tensions, heightening these issues of representation and identification in unique ways.

Joshua D. Savage is an Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholar and John and Pat Hume Scholar undertaking PhD research in the Department of Sociology at Maynooth University. He received the Noma-Reischauer Prize in Japanese Studies from Harvard University in 2003 and has worked for over a decade in game development and education in Japan, the United States, and Ireland. He is a contributor to the game development news page GameDevelopers.ie and to the LGBTQ Video Game Archive, a research project at Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. He is also a research assistant on Network in Play, an informal education and outreach initiative promoting diversity in games in Ireland, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Canada via the ReFiG project.

 

ANNA OLESZCZUK (Marie Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin): Nonbinary and liminal gender: representations of gender fluidity in SF comics

Historically, comics have not been particularly inclusive and “most queer characters, creators, and storylines were largely invisible in mainstream American comics for much of the medium’s history” (Anderson 186). They usually approach gender from a fixed binary perspective and seldom include characters that go beyond the male/female opposition. However, there are several notable examples of gender non-conforming characters in comics: Desire in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (1989-1996); Lord Fanny in Grant Morrison’s Invisibles (1994-2000); Cloud, Mystique, and Xavin in the Marvel Comics multiverse; and Danny the Street in the DC Universe. In my paper, I will focus on two gender-fluid characters in science fiction comics: Mystique, who first appeared in the Ms. Marvel (1977-1979) series in 1978, and Xavin from Runaways (2003-), who was introduced in 2005. First, I will briefly address the depiction of a gender fluid identity. Then, I will argue that these characters demonstrate two kinds of representation of gender fluidity: non-binary (Xavin) and gender liminal (Mystique). Finally, I will examine the ways in which the gender fluidity is represented (or misrepresented) in the comics featuring these characters in terms of language and visibility. My reading of these issues will be primarily grounded in the theory of gender performativity and formation of the self (cf. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity).

Anna Oleszczuk is a second year doctoral student at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland. Her research interests include gender identity and queer theory, comics, and science fiction. She plans to explore them by writing a dissertation on non-binary gender and sexuality in sf comics.

 

AGATA WASZKIEWCZ (Marie Curie Sklodowska University, Lublin): Playful Women: what game studies can learn from discourses of queer and feminist pornography

Playing video games is still perceived as a predominantly male activity, although most statistics show that the number of female gamers has grown dramatically, reaching 41% of the general gamer population and even up to 70% in some game genres. At the same time, some of the factors highlighting the focus on the male audience include teenager and young adult-targeted marketing as well as non-inclusive, sexualised design of in-game characters. Sheri Graner Ray and Shira Chess have proposed a list of specific attributes which should be taken into consideration while creating games with female players in mind. Surprisingly, though, in doing so they seem to generally rely on the common gender stereotypes and generalisations: the notion that all women avoid high risk, share the need for social component in their games, and prefer realistic themes related to domestic activities, such as cooking. This approach is far from unproblematic: it draws on the same mainstream understanding of binary gender roles as the critiqued “male” games and is equally alienating for those who do not identify with them. In that, the situation of the female games studies can be compared to the discourse around queer and feminist pornography. Instead of following a static model of gender roles, game developers and theorists could use the insights of the third wave of feminist critique of mainstream pornography and incorporate themes of inclusivity and discourse in order to offer, just like queer pornography has, a more meaningful experience to its users.

Agata Waszkiewicz received her MA degree in Psychology from Warsaw University, Poland. She is currently a doctoral student at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, Poland. Her field of interest include video games as well as queer and gender studies. She is currently working on her dissertation on breaking the 4th wall in video games.

 

SARAH GRICE (Trinity College Dublin): Imagining Other Futures: Difference and Representation in the experimental cinema of Vivienne Dick.

This paper will provide a close reading of Vivienne Dick’s The Irreducible Difference of the Other (2013), using Luce Irigaray’s psychoanalytic formations of sexual difference and Teresa de Lauretis’ semiotic concept of ‘queer textuality’ in conversation with one another in order to suggest that the disruptive power of the film-text lies in its formal and structural resistance to dominant masculine paradigms based on a logic of domination/subordination. The film’s paratactic structure, with its juxtapositions of visual and aural styles – a ‘patchwork’ of disparate sounds and images woven together – establishes the fundamental theme of human connection, while challenging societal constructions of difference. I will propose that the film works against narrativity, closure and fulfilment of meaning, adhering to a queer semantic and temporal logic as part of a broader artistic project of rebellion against the hegemonic structures of difference in a world that revolves around consumption, war and terror. The semantic ambiguity, unsettling mise-en- scéne and elliptical editing are all elements that make legible the film’s queer investment in human history and corresponding drive to derail Western notions of teleological progress. I will suggest that Vivienne Dick’s experimental filmmaking fundamentally questions the ethics of war and the viability of protest, and moreover, how they relate to and are constituted by sexual difference in human society. The film as a queer text ultimately imagines an alternative future that breaks down universal categories of otherness so that the other may become indistinct from the whole.

My name is Sarah Grice and I am studying for an MPhil in Gender and Women’s Studies, having completed my BA degree in English Literature at Cambridge University. My research interests revolve around a series of interrelated concepts including the body, trauma, memory and affect in contemporary film and literature drawing upon critical theories of gender and philosophy. I spent the last year living and working in Venice at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and subsequently at the Irish Pavilion at the Biennale of Art with Jesse Jones’ exhibition ‘Tremble Tremble’. In my current research I am particularly interested in the intersections between artistic practice, theory and activism, focusing on contemporary issues of reproductive justice and sexuality in Ireland.

 

PANEL 10

Gender and Citizenship

Panellists:

CLAIRE MCGING

SOPHIE LONG

WENDY LYON

MARY MCAULIFFE

NIAMH MCDONALD

The idea of citizenship, an abstract and nebulous concept, hides, as feminists often point out, the reality of unequal power based on race, class, ethnicity and gender, that can render women subject to double discrimination. These inequalities lead to exclusions from the rights and responsibilities of full citizenship because of difference.  This panel will consider what Irish citizenship means and has meant historically, what it means today, how the construction of citizenship server to include as much as exclude.  We will consider the 2004 Citizenship referendum and the impact of that on a sense of belonging, as this demonstrated that citizenship rights are not fixed, but are objects of struggle to be defended, reinterpreted, extended or rescinded based on gender, class and race etc.  Other issues which impact on citizenship include LGBT rights, traveller rights, class issue, the border and concepts of gender and citizenship and belonging in Northern Ireland; especially as Brexit looms and we commemorate 20 years of the peace process. We will also consider how gender, class and citizenship interact and look again at class politics, struggles and who gets to be heard.

 

PARALLEL PANEL SESSION D: Wednesday 23rd May, 4.15-5.45pm

PANEL 11

‘Nothing About Us Without Us’: Migrant and Ethnic Minority Women’s Activism in Ireland

Panellists:

IRMA BOCHORISHVILI (ARN – Anti-Racism Network Ireland)

DONNAH VUMA (MASI – Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland)

EMILY WASZAK (MERJ – Migrants & Ethnic Minorities for Reproductive Justice & ARN)

CHAMINDRA WEERAWARDHANA (Chair, SIBEAL – Irish Feminist and Gender Studies Network; Black Lives Matter Belfast)

JANE XAVIER (MCRI – Migrant Rights Centre Ireland & MERJ)

“Feminism is the political theory and practice to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, physically challenged women, lesbians, old women, as well as white economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement.” – Barbara Smith (1979)
This panel brings together women activists who will speak to the specific experiences of women of colour, migrant women and ethnic minority women in feminist and other spheres of action, thought and organising in Ireland. The panel will discuss and analyse the hegemonies of whiteness, class, citizenship, and cisgenderism that persist within feminist organisations, institutions and campaigns in Ireland. As well as grounded critique, the panel will discuss what feminist organising, knowledge and praxis has to learn from the self-organising and knowledge production of ethnic minority women in Ireland. Some of the topics that will be up for discussion include reproductive justice, women and ‘migration management’, women and work, the politics of ‘diversity and inclusion’, the politics of ‘empowerment’, and the NGO-ization of feminist activism.

 

PANEL 12

Disciplining deviance – women, psychiatry, resistance

GISELLA ORSINI (University of Malta): Normalizing deviant bodies and minds: the treatment of eating disorders

In 1873, the two physicians Charles Lasègue in France and William W. Gull in England, officially described, for the first time, anorexia nervosa as a psychological condition predominant among young women. Before the XIX century, however, self-starvation was not related to weight concerns or fat-phobia and generally such an eating behaviour was socially accepted, perceived as a manifestation of holy behaviour or, a wonder of nature characterized by spectacular aspects. What has not changed from the past is the prevalence of females among the people suffering from eating disorders. Currently it is in fact estimated that only 5% of those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are male. In line with the Foucauldian vision of knowledge and discourse, I suggest that eating disorders are produced as a medical category through the medical discourse, which pathologies specific behaviours towards food and the body. This approach will be discussed through an analysis of the approach and treatments proposed in an Italian residential centre for eating disorders. While the biomedical and psychological approaches are the most authoritative at the residential centre considered, this actually acts as an educational total institution that aims to correct deviant bodies and minds. Anorexics, bulimics and binge eaters are therefore transformed into docile bodies through the discipline of bodies, health education and the communication of emotions.

Dr. Gisella Orsini is a lecturer of the Department of Gender Studies at the University of Malta, and a Research Associate of the Mediterranean Institute – University of Malta. She

completed her Ph.D in Anthropology in 2015, with a dissertation entitled “An imperfect body reflects an imperfect person: An ethnographic study of Eating Disorders in Malta and Italy”, due to her interest in in exploring the relation between mind, body, gender and culture. Her research interest falls into the areas of anthropology of the body, health – culture and gender, medical anthropology.

 

AOIFE MURRAY (University College Dublin): Gendered power dynamics and psychiatry: a feminist critique of the construction of Cluster B personality disorders

Personality disorders (PDs) are amongst the most stigmatised of psychiatric disorders. Those who receive PD diagnoses often must contend with highly negative attitudes from healthcare professionals who treat the disorder. Controversy about the conceptual validity of PDs is common in psychological literature for numerous reasons. This paper draws upon elements of Szasz’s anti-psychiatry argument and Butler’s theory of gender performativity in order to offer a feminist critique of psychiatric practice, focusing particularly on the construction of dramatic-type Cluster B PDs as they are presented in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). I assert that the lack of a biological basis of PDs and the highly moralistic and gendered connotations seen throughout the DSM’s Cluster B diagnostic criteria call into question the legitimacy of these PD labels. I argue that Cluster B PDs are not illnesses like diabetes or influenza, but socially constructed labels arising in part from gendered power dynamics in psychiatry. Gendered behaviours and emotional responses such as impulsive sexual behaviour and emotional instability, often induced by childhood trauma, are deemed non-normative under patriarchy and therefore pathologised and incorporated into psychiatric diagnostic criteria. This effectively punishes those who do not perform gender ‘correctly’ under patriarchy and enforces performance of normative gender roles in Western society. Potential reconceptualisation of PD diagnosis that respects the emotional experiences and social circumstances of people diagnosed with PDs is considered, and practical strategies to counter the gendered power dynamics inherent in the construction of PD labels are discussed.

Aoife Murray is a final year undergraduate student studying Psychology and Social Justice in UCD. Her academic interests include feminist and critical narratives of psychology, combating the social and structural stigma of mental illness, and the roles of power and culture in psychological practice. She hopes to incorporate her psychological background into future studies in social justice. She also actively participates in student politics and social activism, particularly with regard to reproductive healthcare and HIV advocacy in Ireland. Outside college, she is involved in teaching art and has a keen interest in feminist and LGBTQ art history.

 

EMMA DUNN (Ryerson University, Toronto): Fan fiction, food, feminism: (re)writing the body in online girl culture

Attending to the emergence of new feminisms within online girl cultures, my paper examines the role of fan fiction in resisting problematic body discourses perpetuated by popular post-feminist media texts. Specifically, I employ a selection of Twilight fan fiction as a case study to demonstrate how young female authors gain agency in making explicit the implicit anorexic logic that is central to both the canon texts under discussion, and popular culture more broadly. Although much research has been done both on literary representations of eating disorders, and on fan fiction’s potential as a site of feminist resistance, the link between eating disorders and female-authored and/or feminist fan fiction has yet to be fully explored. Since its publication in 2005, the immensely popular Twilight series has inspired a plethora of fan fiction, with a growing body of young female authors rewriting protagonist Bella Swan as anorexic. I argue that through the participatory medium of fan fiction, these authors gain agency in making explicit the implicit anorexic logic that is central to both the Twilight series’ canon texts, and mainstream girlhood as a whole; but, that as each author negotiates her conflicting position as critic of, and participant in post-feminist culture, her narrative sheds light on the contradictory and pervasive nature of anorexic ideology.

Emma Dunn is a Ph.D. candidate in the Communication and Culture program at Ryerson University. Her research interests span the fields of feminist studies, body studies, and youth cultures. Supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, Emma’s doctoral work focuses on questions surrounding post-feminist and anorexic ideologies in literary franchises for young adults. Her dissertation explores how a logic of anorexia functions through the figure of the post-feminist action heroine in popular YA speculative fiction series, and how fans themselves negotiate these problematic discourses within their fan-authored works.

 

PANEL 13

Gender Minorities, Structural Violence, and the Question of Representation

AMANDA DUNSMORE (Limerick Institute of Technology): Becoming Christine: A Representation of Social, Cultural and Political Legacy through Accumulative Legacy Art Processes

Amanda Dunsmore presents representations of societal transformation through portraiture. In 2017 Amanda Dunsmore in partnership with Christine Beynon presented the exhibition Becoming Christine at the Galway Arts Centre. Becoming Christine is an exhibition series based on the lived experience of Christine Beynon. It is a continually developing body of work involving re-presented ‘selfies’, sound installation and video portraiture. The ‘selfies’ follow Christine Beynon’s journey and transition over the past 12 years—to becoming a woman.  These self portraits range in tone from the painful, to the playful, from the mundane to the contemplative to the joyful. The immersive sound installation and narrated artwork was a result of a collaborative partnership between the artist and Christine Beynon. Over one year Amanda recorded a series of conversations between herself and Christine—where Christine described her journey to becoming a woman. In 2017, Amanda and Christine decided it is the right time to share that conversation. The dialogue continues through a 2018 showing of Becoming Christine at the RHA, Dublin, where Dunsmore further questions what constitutes portraiture by making a video portrait of Christine outside her home in rural Galway; a home she self-built for her family.  In contrast to the well-known Irish political figures videoed by the artist to date (including Monica MacWilliams, John Hume, David Trimble, Mariread Corrigan Maguire, Senator David Norris, Martin McGuinness & Lord Alderdice), Christine Beynon is a member of the general public. Yet her ongoing and remarkable journey to full self-realisation and the bravery of this act, make her a true pioneer. As Christine herself has said “Every time I go outside my front door, it’s a political statement”. The inquiry of this paper will explore the methodology behind the artistic process of which led to the Becoming Christine artworks. Dunsmore’s accumulative legacy art practice examines place, people and moments of political significance. The paper will present art processes that explore representations of societal transformation through contextual portraiture. Through the on-going Becoming Christine art project and artworks, the paper will examine the role of art practice in minding legacy of individuals, ideas and perspectives of human interaction.

Amanda Dunsmore is a visual artist living in Ireland. She received a BA in sculpture at the University of Ulster, 1991 and an MA in Interactive Media at University of Limerick, 2000. Amanda Dunsmore works in art processes that explore representations of societal transformation through contextual portraiture and social historic projects. Over the past 25 years Amanda has exhibited widely in Ireland and Internationally. Amanda’s artworks can be found in numerous private and public collections. amandadunsmore.com

 

RIVER CHAMPION: kitchen portraits: representing the effects of state violence on gender minorities

I would like to talk about the reasoning behind, the process of doing and the reception to my exhibition of “kitchen portraits” in Outhouse LGBTQIA centre from January to February of this year. This exhibition is part of an in-depth piece of emancipatory research into the impact on the identities of people from gender minorities of homelessness and housing security. gender minorities are at increased risk for housing insecurity and state violence due to their marginalised status and the state’s hetero-normative approaches to housing and kinship. They are also often alienated in the post “equality” LGBT communities as they do not suit the entrepreneurial and socially stable face that mainstream LGBTQIA movements prefer to represent. As I am an artist and a survivor of being a homeless gender non-conforming person in Dublin I chose to approach my study as a “gift relationship” where the study participants would be empowered by my giving them knowledge and representation in the form of the study and in the form of portraits of their current kitchen spaces (participants were also paid and received the portraits as a gift). The study was conducted as a dialogue between equals and this is reflected in the form the study, portraits and exhibition took. I believe that the process by which I did the study and the practicalities of it are of interest to people interested in conducting intersectional and emancipatory research into marginalised communities and further exposing the lived experience of patriarchal oppression. My presentation will include slides that showcase the art and the exhibition including the social media campaign building up to it.

My name is river champion and i am a genderqueer/ neurodivergent/ bisexual artist working in Dublin. I would like to present on my experience of running a socially engaged exhibition on the subject of homelessness and gender minorities at the outhouse lgbt centre that is currently running https://www.facebook.com/events/1689088141166321/ . 

the exhibition is based on my masters research for the gender and women’s studies course in TCD which involved in depth intersectional interviews with affected parties. it can be found along with other academic work on my academia profile. https://tcd.academia.edu/river_champion . I have presented before on gender minorities and marginalisation at the precarious subjects conference 2016 in TCD and Octocon science fiction convention 2015.

 

MATTHEW KENNEDY (University College Dublin): You’re dead to me: narratives of trans ‘living deaths’ and ‘haunted memories’ within queer performances

The trans body is a site of trauma, abjection and misplaced memory as it births a history that is entirely self-produced. The experiences of trans people are not only shaped by a detachment from the heteronormative prescription of gender; but also homonormative gender and sexuality, and in more recent history, transnormative ideas of the gendered body. This paper argues that trans people occupy a dystopian space following their experience of a “living death”. This is a moment in which the assigned gender at birth is eclipsed by a new understanding of the gendered self, representing a “living death” in the trans person’s history. Trans lives from this point are split on a pre-and post-recognition of the trans self and their memories are haunted by the histories of the previous gendered existence and the utopian ideal of these gendered possibility’s which have now died. Through extensive exploration of death narratives in various cultures, histories and traditions and queer theory, I will examine how this trans “living death” and these haunted memories are present across various queer performances.

Matthew Kennedy is a current graduate student in the gender studies MA in UCD, a dedicated feminist, a poet and a queer activist. He has worked on queer activism, predominantly trans rights, since beginning his academic journey in UCC studying History and English. While completing his undergraduate degree, he was the chairperson of UCC LGBT Society, the UCC student’s union LGBT rights officer and was the co-writer of the gender identity and gender expression policy. Queer rights, theory and expression have always been at the centre of his engagement with social justice. Similarly, he is incredibly pro-choice and has dedicated his time and artist discussion through his poetry on the subject of trans reproductive justice speaking at the march for choice in September 2017. As a result, his academic work in conjunction with his poetry is a raw depiction and discussion surrounding his own trans identity, reproductive justice, his familial rejection and his continued search for understanding and reconciliation with what it means to be trans. His thesis reflects these thoughts and is both a theoretical discussion of queer performances and a cathartic exploration of loss, trauma, embodiment and death.

 

PANEL 14

Reclaiming heretical feminisms

VALERIE PALMER-MEHTA (Oakland University, USA): Heresy Begins At Home: Andrea Dworkin’s evolving heretical voice in correspondence with her parents, 1965-1978

An audacious orator who believed unequivocally in her ability to influence her social world, Andrea Dworkin’s (1946-2005) rhetorical efforts place her among significant women in rhetorical history who have been silenced and censured but who have persisted in their efforts to instigate change in their corner of the world. Dworkin’s rhetoric is particularly useful to study at a historical juncture in which women’s behavior, embodiment, and rhetorical performances are increasingly policed in “postfeminist” Western cultures that present themselves as enabling equality, while simultaneously promoting regressive roles for women. As Dworkin composed a feminist life by struggling against patriarchal domination, gender and sexual binaries, and gender based violence, I argue that her corpus provides an entryway into a mode of feminist rhetorical resistance through her retheorizing of dominant rhetorical constructs. Through an examination of her private correspondence with her parents from 1965-1978, I argue that Dworkin engages in a mode of feminist rhetorical resistance by performing what I call a “heretical voice” that is grounded in the evolving rhetorical concept of parrhēsia and Sarah Amira De La Garza’s notion of mindful heresy. By illuminating the very public Dworkin in a private, interior way, and extrapolating her unintended, but valuable, rhetorical theorizing, we may revise rhetorical thought, reconsider rhetorical space from a radical feminist perspective, and engage “a transformative vision, one that imagines the possibilities of things currently unseen.”

 

Valerie Palmer-Mehta is Professor of Communication in the Department of Communication & Journalism at Oakland University (Rochester, Michigan, USA). Her scholarship sits at the intersection of rhetorical studies and gender/sexuality studies. Her area of specialization is feminist rhetorical studies. Although she is interested in all manner of discourse as it relates to social identity, power, and justice, the heart of her research is motivated by the absence of diverse women in rhetorical studies and the effect this has had on the discipline writ large. Consequently, her research program centers on women and rhetoric: Writing diverse women into rhetorical studies and our shared history; identifying the rhetorical strategies diverse women employ to influence and transform public culture, intellectual traditions, and everyday practices; and investigating how women and their advocates fundamentally challenge our understanding of key discursive and cultural concepts that we use to organize and make sense of our lives.

 

KATHERINE RYAN (Trinity College Dublin): Rape Predates the Mini Skirt: contemporising radical feminist activism & the political performance of protest

The #metoo campaign has highlighted the pervasiveness of sexual violence, and for the first time actively supported the discussion of same in the public sphere. It also shows the power of the collective voices of women online. #Metoo has encouraged and given a platform to survivors of sexual abuse to speak out about their experiences, while actively emboldening others to do the same. It has catapulted conversations pertaining to abuse/assault from the traditional female private sphere into the online public sphere, thus opening the digital Pandora’s box of the multitude of survivors’ experiences of sexual violence. Given that these abuses happened in the offline realm, the question that needs to be asked is how do we do organise and respond to sexual and gender-based violence in a real and tangible way? How do we raise awareness about these issues and keep the conversation going within real time and space? In answer to this question as part of my ongoing research I will be organising a Reclaim the Night March on Sunday the 25th of November 2018. This date is known as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and it marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. There hasn’t been a Reclaim the Night March in Dublin since 2010 and prior to that it was 1998. The paper will look at the online and offline avenues of organising the march and the highly politicised ideology concerning the Radical Feminists previous exclusion of trans women from the march.

Katherine Ryan is currently a first year PhD student in the School of Drama at Trinity College her research is focused on performing digital femininities whilst focusing on online misogyny. Her work focuses on our relationships with technology, the screen and the Internet from a feminist perspective. She holds a masters in Women’s Studies from UCC and is a volunteer with the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

 

EVA RICHARDSON MCCREA: Freed from the Tyranny of Our Biology? Recovering the Emancipatory Potential of Technology for Gender

Writing in 1970, Shulamith Firestone claimed that it would be through technology that humanity would be freed ‘from the tyranny of its biology.’Advocating for the abolition of gender through cybernetic reproduction, Firestone posits a future where social reproduction would be completely reimagined due to technological progress. However almost fifty years later, while gains have been made, it is clear that technology is not inherently liberating. Nancy Fraser points to the contemporary popularity of high-tech breast pumps and egg freezing as two developments that epitomize the contemporary relationship between technology, capitalism and social reproduction. (For instance Fraser points out that both Apple and Facebook offer free egg freezing to highly qualified female employees.) Similarly, Michelle Murphy ‘s Seizing the Means of Reproduction, outlines the murky relationship between neoliberalism, biopolitics and reproductive technologies. Murphy highlights how radical feminist projects in the USA were assimilated into state policies and private bodies, highlighting a racialised politics underlying many reproductive programs. If one thing is clear from the writings of both Fraser and Murphy, it is that women are far from free from the tyranny of their biology. Beginning with a concrete consideration of the writings of both Fraser and Murphy, this paper seeks to map out some aspects of the complex relationship between technology, gender, labour and social reproduction. If first moment of this paper is an outline and diagnoses of this current historical juncture, the second moment is speculative. Here I will open up the future orientated possibilities of technology and gender by reconsidering Firestone’s Dialectic of Sex through the lens of the 2015 Xenofeminist Manifesto. If, as Fraser writes, there has been a shrinkage ‘in emancipatory vision’ under the conditions of contemporary capitalism, then what is at stake here is a recovering of the emancipatory potential of technology for gender.

Eva Richardson McCrea is an artist and writer based in Dublin, Ireland. Recent presentations have included ‘Memory, History and Experience in Omer Fast and Walter Benjamin’ London Conference in Critical Thought, Birkbeck University, London (2016) and ‘The Work of Art as A Being of Sensation’ Deleuze + Art Conference, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland (2016). Recent exhibitions included Repeater III (2017) and Repeater II (2016), The New Space, Fatima, Dublin Ireland. Eva holds an MA in Philosophy and Critical Theory from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, Kingston, London and a BA in Fine Art (Sculpture) and History of Art from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

 

PARALLEL PANEL SESSION E: Thursday 24th May 2018, 9.30-11.00am

 

PANEL 15

Testimony, voice, memory, histories

SHEENA GRAHAM-GEORGE (Glasgow School of Art): The Forgotten Mothers of the Cillín

Over the last thirty years communities throughout Ireland have actively been engaged in reclaiming part of their past. The legacy of the cilliní, the un-baptised infant burial grounds, have over the generations cast a long shadow across the lives of many Irish families whose children lie buried in these plots. But what of the families who lost wives and mothers ‘who died in childbirth but haven’t been churched’ (Dixon 2012)? Oral history sources tell us they were also buried there along with suicides, strangers, shipwrecked sailors, murderers and their unfortunate victims, criminals, famine victims, the mentally disabled. All considered unsuitable for burial within consecrated ground. Why would a Catholic ‘woman who had died in or shortly after childbirth’ (Donnelly & Murphy 2008:213) be denied burial in consecrated ground? Apart from mention in oral history little information appears to be available regarding these women who have all but become invisible which makes one question if this invisibility is a reflection of their status in society in rural Ireland during the late 19th and mid twentieth century or is it as a result of Canon laws pertaining to women and childbirth in relation to the traditional Christian ceremony of The Churching of Women mixed with local superstitions and folk-belief concerning post-parturient women? Or possibly it is a potent concoction of all the above elements, society, church and superstition colluding to obscure the memory of these many wives and mothers.

Sheena Graham-George is an Orkney based visual artist and is currently half way through her practice-led PhD at Glasgow School of Art. Her research is concerned with memory, place and community in relation to the Irish cillíní, the un-baptised infant burial grounds and disenfranchised grief. Her work as an artist looks at the role of memorializing the marginalized dead through art as a conceivable way for communities to make peace with a past which differs in attitude from the present and the ways that art might communicate universal loss and compassion whilst becoming an integral part of the healing process.

 

SHONAGH HILL (University College Dublin): Not at Home: Testimony, Voice and abortion journeys

Since 1980, at least 170,000 women have travelled outside Ireland to procure safe abortions. The hypocrisy of forcing women in Ireland to journey outside the State for safe abortion services was at the heart of the 2017 Dublin Fringe Festival performance, Not at Home: a four day durational art campaign by Emma Fraser (Nine Crows) and Grace Dyas (THEATREclub). This paper seeks to position this performance through the conference theme of ‘Thinking Gender Justice’ by focusing on the act of listening and of voicing experience. At a press conference held on 29th January 2018, where Leo Varadkar said that he would be campaigning to repeal the Eighth Amendment, he stated that in coming to this decision, ‘above all I’ve listened to women’. When are women’s voices listened to and what strategies do women need to adopt in order to be heard? From April 2016, Dyas and Fraser amassed women’s testimonies of their abortion journeys and invited women to further contribute their stories at the Not at Home installation. Feelings of shame and isolation result from the silencing of women’s experiences and I intend to explore the role of sound and affect in the transmission of testimony. The intention of the work is clear: ‘This is not a sermon for the converted’, so how are we addressed, what is asked of the audience and to what end?

Dr. Shonagh Hill is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2017). She is currently teaching at University College Dublin while completing her monograph: Embodied Mythmaking: A Genealogy of Women in Irish Theatre. Shonagh has published articles on women in Irish theatre in Theatre Research International and Etudes Irlandaises, as well as the recent edited collections The Theatre of Marie Jones (Carysfort 2015) and Radical Contemporary Theatre Practices by Women in Ireland (Carysfort 2015). Her most recent publication, ‘Feeling Out of Place: The “affective dissonance” of the feminist spectator in The Boys of Foley Street’, was published in the edited collection Performance, Feminism and Affect in Neoliberal Times (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).

 

AMY WALSH (Dublin Institute of Technology): Testimonies of Loss and Memories of Being: exploring the biopolitics of pregnancy under the Eighth Amendment in Ireland

Since 2012 there has been renewed calls to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution which makes abortion illegal in nearly all circumstances. While there is a lot of debate around abortion in Ireland the focus is mainly on unwanted pregnancies. Important publications include The Irish Journey (2000) and Ireland’s Hidden Diaspora (2010). The gap in literature on how lack of abortion access affects the lives of women with wanted pregnancies who receive a diagnosis of severe or fatal foetal abnormality is detrimental to the welfare of all people. These pregnancies lie outside the realms of normal maternity care and abortion is a path that is sometimes chosen by women as a means of caring for their babies. Another aspect of the literature is that it does not feature the women themselves. Anonymity and stories told through a third party are a constant feature which ‘marks’ the women as different. Professor Cook3 discusses how this ‘marking’ perpetuates the taboo nature of abortion in her analyses of the Mellet vs Ireland case. This paper fills the gaps outlined by interviewing women who have received a diagnosis of severe or fatal foetal anomaly. The women are interviewed in their own names and give their testimonies in their own voices4. The interviews are juxtaposed against photographic images of the memorabilia that the women keep to remember their babies, in order to reveal the previously misunderstood connections between abortion healthcare, loss and mothering.

Amy is an Artist and lecturer in Fine Art Media at Dublin Institute of Technology. She previously held lecturing positions at The National College of Art and Design and Trinity College Dublin. Over the last few years Amy’s art practice and activism with TFMR Ireland have become intertwined. Her art and research has focused on reproductive justice, loss and testimony. Amy gave a personal testimony to the Citizens Assembly5 and she collaborated with the Artists Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment for their Day of Testimonies at Project Art Centre. At this event, an article that she wrote for the Irish Times6 was read by Irish author Marian Keyes. Her work from ‘Nasty Women Dublin’ at Pallas Projects, a photograph detailing the items that she packed in her maternity bag when she travelled to Liverpool Women’s Hospital, is featured in an upcoming book titled ‘Abortion in Anti-Choice Islands’ edited by Dr Fiona Bloomer (UU) and Claire Pierson (MMU).

 

NANCY ROCHFORD FLYNN (Limerick Institute of Technology): Deconstructing the Perception of the Matriarch

Resilience is a concept of growing interest in relation to older people and within the context of population ageing. There are multiple features fundamental to understanding emotional resilience in old age. Following a recent study with older people in Limerick which examined older people’s understandings and experiences of emotional resilience, many of the research participants accredited the presence of a strong mother figure as the major contributor to their own individual resilience. What was also evident from the narratives collected was that those who did not have a caring mother figure experienced emotional distress. The role of the mother in Irish society has long been accredited for creating a sense of family. Indeed the authorisation of gender legislation by the Irish Free State in 1937 ensured that women were to be nothing more or less than wives and mothers. For decades the expectation for women was that of a strong mother figure or matriarch of the family cell. With its emphasis on the sanctity of the traditional Catholic married family and placing women within the constraints of the home, the state subjected all women to a life of domesticity; or else face an existence of exclusion and vulnerability. Not every woman aspired to this vocation or indeed had the necessary skills to fulfil the expectation of the perfect mother, thus the introduction of this systematic control for the role of women within society left some women with a sense drudgery which reflected in low levels of nurturing. This study examines the ambiguous nature of the matriarch and its many elements. The positive attributes of a strong matriarchal figure shall be explored followed by the psychological trauma experienced as a result of weak or damaged matriarchal figures. The results of this study provide examples which suggest that the presence of a matriarch does not always benefit those in her care, resulting in weak or damaged relationships which detract from emotional resilience.

Nancy Rochford Flynn is an Interdisciplinary Artist, Community Art Activist, an educator and facilitator based in Co. Wexford. Her current work is more research based than practice lead as she completes her degree as a postgraduate researcher. Nancy was awarded a postgraduate scholarship from Limerick Institute of Technology and ISAX (Ireland Smart Ageing Exchange) in 2016. This study is an analysis of emotional resilience and wellbeing in older people through ethnographic study and narrative enquiry and has revealed the social changes over time in this area. The work examines how older people describe the highs and lows of their lives, including identification of their most challenging life events and how their individual resilience helped them overcome these life adversities. It provides insight into the natural coping mechanisms utilised by them to overcome difficult and stressful periods in their lives. Nancy has completed extensive research into the oppression suffered by women in Ireland’s Magdalene laundries and has paid homage to these women through her work. Her practice examines gender and identity with a focus on the status of Irish women within contemporary society.

 

PANEL 16

Gender Justice, Technology and Feminist Futures       

FIDELE VLAVO (Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City): Girls in, Women out’: issues in addressing gender unbalance in information technology

Most research on gender and information technology, and more specifically on computing, starts with the established premise that women are under-represented in the field. As a result, a primary concern has been to identify reasons why women engage less with computers. Indeed, the need to investigate the socio-cultural construction of computer experts from a feminist perspective has become central to the renegotiation of gender politics in the digital era. One of the effects of academic work has been the surge of social educational programmes that encourage young girls to enter the field of computer sciences, to acquire programming skills, and to participate in the information revolution. Yet, there is a peculiar phenomenon suggesting that, while young girls are increasingly encouraged to get into the field, the expertise of women in computer programming still denied. It could be argued that during their life span, women are subjected to a process of inclusion (as young girls aspiring to become computer scientists) to one of exclusion (as women seeking equal recognition as programmers). The aim of this paper is to examine this complex process of inclusion/exclusion by considering the discourses of campaigns that encourage girls’ involvement with digital technology (such as Girls in Technology), and the experience of women working in the fields. The paper will isolate the central contradictions and limitations of the recent social policies that aim to address gender unbalance and inclusions and it will argue for a radical re-thinking of gender politics in relation to computing and digital culture.

Fidele Vlavo is a digital media and culture scholar. Her research interests combine technology studies, cyberculture, gender theory, media arts and digital activism. Her previous work examined the emergence of electronic civil disobedience as a form of digital activism developing in Europe, US and Mexico. She is the author of the book Performing Digital Activism (Routledge 2017) which explores digital direct action as a creative and artistic practice.

 

CLÍONA SAIDLÉAR (Rape Crisis Network Ireland): Why feminists should care about data

Bodily integrity and autonomy as the basic building block of personhood is a concept feminist theorists and activist have spent decades defining, most especially the second wave focused on sexual violence and control of sexual reproduction. For women to become equal and as ‘human’ as men a long struggle has been fought, and continues, to define the borders and inviolability of women’s bodies in order to facilitate true equality. But in a data world, defining the individual through the physical boundary of our bodies is no longer sufficient. We are our data and women’s lives, along with everyone else’s, are now increasingly defined by our fragmented and dispersed data. Our control over these fragments of ourselves has been wholesale given away, hijacked, monetized and usurped. This results in an alienation from our power as individuals to impact and shape the world about us. Now Privacy has been recognised as the newest Fundamental Human Right and an enormous shift to create infrastructural, legal and cultural change to transform data protection from niche, tech industry based and geek-led to mainstream culture, is underway. Data integrity is fundamental to empowerment and matters to all but its loss impacts those already experiencing inequality and discrimination most. Feminism must reframe the struggle to define bodily integrity and autonomy to include control over our data. There can be no gender equality without data integrity and autonomy. Data Protection must become a mainstream feminist task, indeed it may well become the defining task of fifth wave feminism.

Dr Clíona Saidléar, Executive Director, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI). Clíona has spent 14 years specialising in the policy area of sexual violence in the feminist NGO body, RCNI, owned and governed by Rape Crisis Centres. Clíona is currently chair and convener of the Charities Data Protection Working Group. She studied geomatics then the social sciences and has a PhD from the Aberystwyth School of International Politics.

 

APHRA KERR and JOSHUA D. SAVAGE (Maynooth University): Gender inequality in game cultures and technofeminist interventions for change

Technology studies have found that the marginalisation of women in the technical sciences and industries, and their representation in popular culture, has had a profound impact. The emergence of ‘postfeminist’ and misogynist cultures online are a significant additional contemporary manifestation. These gendered practices are particularly stark in the digital games industry and cultures (Shaw, 2014). However, much of what we know about this domain is focused on the US and the UK. In this paper we report on ongoing research which used surveys and observation to examine participation at public game jam events in Dublin and Limerick, and to explore participant experiences of discrimination in games culture online and offline. We then outline how a network of individuals and organisations developed workshops that explicitly promoted gender equality, diversity and inclusion in digital games production, inspired by similar initiatives in Canada, the US and the UK. In our project we organised ‘female-friendly’ workshops in Dublin in 2017 and in Galway in 2018 which aimed to encourage and support women to design digital games, and indeed to challenge what constitutes a game. These initiatives were informed by the techno-feminist approach of Judy Wajcman (2010) and a feminist pedagogic (Jenson, Fisher, and De Castell 2011) which sets out to challenge the association between hegemonic masculinity, men and technology.  In the final analysis we reflect on the impact of labelling our events ‘female friendly,’ our strategies to mitigate multiple barriers to participation, and our ability as intermediaries to shape gendered and exclusionary game cultures. [250]

Dr. Aphra Kerr is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Maynooth University, Ireland and an associate member of the Maynooth University Social Sciences Research Institute. Her books include Global Games: Production, Circulation and Policy in the Networked Era, Routledge, 2017. She is a co-investigator on the ReFig project.

Joshua D. Savage is an Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholar (2017-) and John and Pat Hume Scholar (2016) undertaking PhD research in the Department of Sociology, Maynooth University. Previously he worked for over a decade in game development and education in Japan, the United States, and Ireland. He is a research assistant on the ReFig project.

 

PANEL 17

Decolonising Knowledge, Subversive Performances, New Queer Histories

NASRIN KHANDOKER (Maynooth University & Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh): Joibon (sensual youth) and subjectivity of women through Bhawaiya folk song of Bengal

My research examines the female sexual agency and subjectivity through the lyrics and performances of Bhawaiya folk songs in Bengal. This genre of the folk song known to emerge with the Rajbangshi community of North Bengal, in India and Bangladesh, is famous for expressing the desire (often sensual) of women and composed with the detailed context of its subject: women, which makes the Bhawaiya song especial amongst Bangla folk music. Most love songs in Bhawaiya are about ‘illicit’ love, deviating from social norms and often occur in reaction to oppressive marital circumstances. They are a gateway to exploring female subjecthood and desire, in which the female subject of the songs are the agents of their own sexuality.  To examine the representative voice of women expressed in those songs, I examined the authorship of those songs. Moreover, I wanted to go beyond the biological gender boundaries for locating the ‘female’ desire by examine ‘becoming woman of the songs’ by the performers. Deviance from marriage with sensual desire in the Bhawaiya folk lyrics and reproducing this desire by ‘becoming woman’ by the performers construct the ‘female’ subjectivity which can be seen as a form of subversion. In my paper, I will explore the subversive existence of female desire within Bhawaiya, and examine its feminist possibilities.

Nasrin Khandoker is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of Anthropology, Maynooth University, a Wenner-Gren Wadsworth fellow and a John and Hume Pat scholar of Maynooth University, Ireland. She is also an assistant professor in the department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh, from where she is currently having a study leave. She worked as an adjunct faculty in the department of Economics, East-West University, Bangladesh. She was awarded a MA from the department of Gender Studies, Central European University, on behalf of the New York State Education Department in 2014. Previously, she achieved another Master’s from the department of Anthropology, Jahangirnagar University. Her publication of articles includes recent debates of post-modernism and feminism, sexuality, education, affect theory, globalization and social studies of science. Nasrin is one of the founder members of the booklet series of Public Nribigyan (Anthropology) in Bangladesh. Nasrin is also a social activist in several feminist and anti-sexual violence groups, and a columnist of some reputed Bengali news media.

 

VEDANTH SACHDEVA GOVI (University College Dublin): Pride: The Reification of Caste and Queerness

Modern western homosexuality operates in a predominantly Foucauldian paradigm that defines its resistance by articulating itself through the lexicons of bio-politics. The recent epistemic evolution of queer theory in relation to race has opened up the possibility of decolonizing both the registries of resistance and homo-erotic desire. This paper contributes to that ever widening pluriverse of queerness by exploring Caste in relation to queer desire and resistance in India. This presentation will show how queer politics operate differently in India because they operate under the modalities of Caste. Moreover the paper will explore how and where the differing Western and Indian notions of the modern queer identity converge to replace the lower-caste, pre-colonial registries of homo-erotic desire and the effect that produces on the queer subject in India today. This presentation will use images from pride marches in various Indian cities to illuminate the ways in which respectability politics is implicated in the dynamics of Caste in regulating queer identities on one hand, and deflecting internal criticism by presenting upper-caste Hindu institutions as more accommodative in comparison to the ‘barbaric’ institutions of Islam on the other. Ultimately, this presentation is an endeavour to think through ‘queerness in India’ from the vantage point that is acquainted with and operates through the underlying logic of Caste and its internal workings.

Vedanth is a Master of Cultural Sociology student at University College Dublin. He stood second as a Bachelor of English Literature at the University of Delhi. He personally likes to work through and look at Caste as a visceral and marginal embodiment and experience in an urban India post the 1990s. As an offspring of an inter-caste marriage, Vedanth has tried to embody Walter Mignolo’s adage of “I think where I am” in his academic work.

 

ÁSTA KRISTIN BENEDIKTSDÓTTIR (University of Iceland & University College Dublin): Queer History in Iceland: a new dimension

The history of homosexuality and queer sexualities in Iceland is a relatively unexplored field, and historians and others interested in LGBTIQ history still have a large gap to fill. But what kind of gap is this, how do they fill it and with what? The majority of the historical writings that have been published are produced by grassroots movements such as the National Queer Organisation (Samtökin ’78) and Reykjavík Pride, or active members in these movements. They often focus on individuals, identity politics, and the fight for legal and civil rights – and they also tend to give more room to gay men than other groups and individuals. Recent academic studies have responded to both the lack of scholarly research and to this focus on the gay liberation movement, but since 2016, a number of articles have been published that are theoretically grounded in queer history and explore the history of sexualities in Iceland in a broader sense. This paper discusses these recent developments, the rewards and hurdles scholars face when they explore the history of a small society from a queer point of view, and the relationship between academics, queer activists and the LGBTIQ community in Reykjavík.

Ásta received an MA in Icelandic Literature from the University of Iceland, and is currently working on her PhD thesis under joint supervision at the University of Iceland and University College Dublin. Her doctoral dissertation deals with queer sexuality in the works of the Icelandic writer Elías Mar. Ásta volunteered for Reykjavík Pride for seven years as a parade manager and board member, and she is currently involved in both academic and non-academic queer historical projects in Reykjavík.

 

PANEL 18

Gender-Based Violence in a Transnational Frame

YASMIN KUTUB (University College Cork) ‘Coercion or Culture? Conceptualisations and perceptions of forced marriage in Ireland’

This presentation draws upon a Doctoral Study, ‘Forced Marriage: Hidden experiences of women in Ireland’. A key aim of this study is to develop the conceptualisation and improve understanding of forced marriage in Ireland, within the context of Western Europe. Qualitative interviews were carried out with women living in Ireland who have experienced forced marriage, as well as with practitioners within the gender-based violence sector, who have worked directly with victims/survivors of forced marriage. I will present and explore interim findings from this study, which indicate the following:

 That gender-based violence practitioners’ conceptualisations of forced marriage lie upon a spectrum, and range from overt force to more subtle forms of coercion. These conceptualisations differ across the gender-based violence sector, but also sometimes within the same organisation, resulting in confusion across the sector, about what constitutes a forced marriage and what does not. This creates barriers for practitioners around identifying and responding to women who have experienced forced marriage, and around developing best-practice responses.

 That practitioners in Ireland tend to conceptualise forced marriage as a cultural practice of certain minority communities.

 By looking towards black and minority ethnic women (including Traveller women) as victims/survivors of forced marriage, practitioners often fail to recognise white, settled Irish women’s experiences of forced marriage. Where practitioners do respond to white, settled Irish women, their experiences of forced marriage are clearly seen as being a form of violence against women. In contrast, BME women’s experiences are often understood as being ‘cultural’, and these women are often ‘othered’.

Yasmin Kutub is originally from the North East of England, and is of Bangladeshi descent. She has a professional qualification in Youth and Community Work, and obtained a Masters in Sociology and Social Policy at Durham University. Yasmin is currently undertaking a Doctor in Social Science in UCC and is in the process of writing up her thesis. Prior to moving to Ireland in 1999, Yasmin predominantly worked in the community and voluntary sector in the UK with Black and minority ethnic women, particularly around violence and abuse. Since 2004, Yasmin has been working as a front-line domestic violence support and advocacy worker, and has a particular interest and commitment to supporting black and minority ethnic women living in Ireland who have experienced gender-based violence.

 

NAMALIE JAYASINGHE (Kadir Has University, Istanbul) & ESER SELEN (Kadir Has University, Istanbul): Mapping Gender Equality and Violence Discourses in Turkey and Sri Lanka

Our study focuses on the discourses on Violence Against Women (VAW) and gender equality articulated by major politicians in Turkey and Sri Lanka, figures who by virtue of their position exert power not only politically, but also socially and culturally. Such discourses may create a fertile ground for VAW that often goes unpunished. The objective of our seminar is to provide a nuanced analysis of the challenges with achieving gender equality and ending VAW. Analyzing the discursive mechanisms coming from Turkey and Sri Lanka over a length of time when both Presidents Rajapaksa and Erdoğan were in power, a comparison of gender equality narratives versus VAW discourse was conducted. Our findings identify statements that condone the control of women’s bodies and behavior, where only one specific conceptualization of womanhood is worthy of protection. In Sri Lanka, it is the mother that supports her husband and tends to her children, and stays within the home. In Turkey, it is the religious mother, who tends to the home, gentle and docile, who is protected. In effect, the suggested solution is to maintain gendered norms that place women in a submissive position in relation to men, going against the idea of gender equality.

Dr. Namalie Jayasinghe is currently the Gender and Women’s Rights Researcher for Oxfam America. Namalie recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Gender and Women’s Studies Research Center at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, where she conducted an analysis on the discourses of violence against women in Sri Lanka and Turkey. She completed her doctoral degree at the School of International Service at American University, studying the gendered impact of natural disasters in Sri Lanka. Namalie received her BA in economics from New York University and later obtained an MSc in environment and development at the London School of Economics. She has been active in the field of sustainable development, working on integrating gender equality and social inclusion into natural resource management programs in West Africa, monitoring local community approaches to tsunami recovery and biodiversity conservation in Sri Lanka, and supporting women-led organizations focusing on post-disaster reconstruction in the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Eser Selen received her Bachelors (1997) and Masters degree in Fine Arts at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey (1999) and Masters degree in Performance Studies at New York University, US (2002). She had her PhD in Performance Studies at New York University, US (2010) with her dissertation titled “The Work of Sacrifice: Gender Performativity, Modernity, and Islam in Turkish Contemporary Performance.” Her research interests include feminisms, performance studies, theories of gender and sexuality, contemporary art, and visual culture. Other than presentations made at national and international conferences, her work appeared in edited volumes and such journals as Gender, Place, and Culture, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, and Kybernetes. She is also a visual artist whose work encompasses performance art, installation and video. She has exhibited and performed in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Australia. She currently holds an Associate Professor position at the Visual Communication Design Department at Kadir Has University, Istanbul, Turkey.

 

LA TASHA POLLARD (University of Illinois, Chicago): Reimagining Justice for Victim-Survivors

This research paper investigates the potential of utilizing restorative and transformative justice in the process of healing psychological harm that is perpetuated in situations of intimate partner violence by emphasizing the voice of the survivor. Traditionally, the conventional legal system falls short on meeting the needs of the victim-survivor by placing emphasis on penalizing the offender– holding the offender accountable to the state, not the victim. Criminalization and penalization do not create for safer relationships and communities nor do they meet the specific needs of individual victim-survivors. While some scholarship calls for a hybrid development between restorative justice practices and conventional criminal legal system practices, this discussion is situated in the larger movement for prison abolition. Restorative justice practice, as discussed here, engages with the tradition of intersectional feminist theory which challenges the role of incarceration and sophisticates our understanding of the prison-industrial complex. Restorative and transformative justice practices have the potential not only to help us redefine what it means to be a survivor and the process of healing, but also to redefine what justice is using a radical abolitionist and decolonial lens.

La Tasha J. Pollard is earning their Master’s of Education in Education Policy Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. They also works as a research assistant for the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center at UIC. Their research interest include that examining the social, cultural, and political factors that contribute to the perpetuation of educational disparities for low income students and students of color through theoretical frameworks such as Intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, and Queer Theory.