This two-day event brought together researchers, students, practitioners, and activists from across the CHASE network and beyond whose research, pedagogy, and practice inspire forms of feminist resistance. It featured papers, discussions, workshops and round tables which have been designed to offer alternative modes of thinking and expression to those dominating within the mainstream neoliberal university.
This event aimed to address how discrimination within the academy, the unequal distribution of emotional labour, and imbedded cultures of privilege, can be troubled, disrupted and overturned through feminist approaches in academia. Taking feminist methodologies and pedagogies as its central focus, the event addressed to address the complexities and nuances of working in a feminist way whether feminism is a focus of the research or not.
We received particularly positive feedback about the workshops, but also on the diverse approach to the modes of engagement at the event. As opposed to having a programme that was very focussed on paper/response and keynote/questions we had creative sessions and plenty of time for discussions on roundtables and workshops. Through this we managed to create a space that was informal and comfortable, where people could freely discuss the personal, political and academic, and challenge themselves and others to think beyond the restrictions and discrimination we experience in the day to day as researchers and staff in our institutions.
We would like to thank everyone who attended and particularly those who came to speak and run workshops.
- Workshop on Identifying Your Feminist Practice and Methodology – CfN Organising Committee: This was a chance to discuss your research with other participants at the conference, and to explore what is, or what could be, feminist about your methodological approach.
- Workshop on Applied Theatre Approaches to Discussing Gender – Natasha Richards, University of Essex, A practical workshop that explores understandings of gender through applied theatre techniques. These are workshops that I would usually run with young people and I am eager to see the discussions and outcomes that emerge from researchers and feminists participating in the workshops.
- Workshop on Decolonising Curriculum – UEA Decolonising the Curriculum Group – Session about sharing experience, research, and best practice on Decolonising the Curriculum. This session is run by the UEA group for decolonising the curriculum who are looking to establish infrastructure and communications that will allow this initiatives to sustain momentum, and secure funding to establish student activism groups for decolonising the curriculum at UEA. They will show an introductory Ted Talk by Melz Owusu, a nonbinary decolonisation activist and spoken word artist, and will hosting a discussion on their approach so far, and how such initiatives can network and grow.
- Workshop Feminist Craftivism – Layla Hignell-Tully, Inclusive Arts Practitioner: A creative and practical session where participants can have a chance to explore some fun and relaxing craftivism techniques while discussing
- Workshop Creative Writing for Academic Inspiration – Sapphire Allard, University of Kent : A creative writing workshop, which will be suitable for all academics, no matter what discipline, in order to re-inspire the interest in the academic project participants are working on at the moment. The workshop will entail a mixture of structured writing exercises and stream of consciousness writing, and will involve felt tips and collage in order to visualise their ideas in a more tangible and light hearted manner. Participants will be encouraged, but never pressured, to read work out as a means of self-reflection and supportive feedback. At the end of the workshop, participants will have have several short pieces of writing to illustrate: what they have achieved so far, the real heart and motivation behind their academic project, and where they are headed.
- Why arguments for UBI in Political Theory need feminism – Natasha Lund-Conlon, University of Essex – Showed how arguments for Universal Basic Income in Political Theory depend on Feminism to be truly compelling. A critique of productivism and androcentric conceptions of the citizen in traditional Political Philosophy. I show that a feminist argument for UBI is able to overcome the objections traditional arguments for UBI face from liberal egalitarian critics. Namely, that the receipt of welfare ought to be dependent on reciprocity and the provision of UBI would facilitate the exploitation of the hard-working by the lazy.
- Queer Research and Practice: This round table discusses various types of queer research and practice within CHASE institutions.The aim is to showcase the diversity of queer research, celebrate its contributions to various disciplinary discourses, and think through the challenges it still faces within a neoliberal and patriarchal university context. Speakers: Dr Sabiha Allouche, SOAS University and Dr Declan Gilmore-Kavanagh, University of Kent
- Gender Bias and Teaching This round table explores issues of gender bias in teaching within the neoliberal university from a specifically feminist perspective. The discussion will focus on methods of teaching evaluation, expectations towards pastoral duties and care, as well as mental health provisions for lecturers and teaching professionals. Our speakers represent the senior, mid-career, and postgraduate levels of the profession. Speakers: Irene McMullin, Lorna Finlayson, Amelia Horgan, University of Essex
- Gender and Precarity in Academia – This roundtable will explore ‘Gender and Precarity in Academia’ and approaches trends towards casualisation within the Neoliberal university as an explicitly feminist issue. Speakers will consider that ways in which precarity has intensified existing cultures of privilege and gender inequalities within the academy. Speakers: Julia Winstone, University of Sussex, Vikki Turbine, University of Glasgow, Sarah Burton, City University, Representatives from Kent Precariat Group, Precarious staff at University of Kent
- ReMarkable Installation – Effie Makepeace, University of Sussex – A solo durational performance, the performer I slowly marked and painted onto herself the full ‘map’ of the times I have been touched without consent. The performance style will be relaxed and informal, interacting with audience members. The performance will stand alone as a singular work, but will also allow me to develop the next stage of the project, which will be to work with a larger group of women over a longer period of time to create a performance which will involve all group members marking their own and each other’s maps on their bodies.
- Puncturing Poetries – Poetry Reading and Presentation of Research – Alison Graham, University of East Anglia – In recent years, embroidery and body modification have surfaced in mainstream popular culture. Both centre on puncture, with the former risking puncture of the skin and the latter demanding it. What do these arts reveal about touch, sensation, and gender? In response to the transformative possibilities of puncture,Alison wrote a sequence of poems entitled Pricksong. My contribution will be an annotated reading, in which I will read from Pricksong and present my research. I ask: – What changes occur in the surface that experiences entry? – How is the tool changed in the encounter? – What happens when I personify the punctured material and objectify the piercing tool? – Is there any residue of entry? – What does it mean to be penetrable? I look to Eliza Bennett’s 2014 piece ‘A Woman’s Work is Never Done’ as inspiration.
Link to full programme: https://drive.google.com/file/d/17uaI7L9xdAiE4Lmmj73b36MLH-3EDCyW/view
Quotes from the event Feedback forms
“I really liked the interactive and creative element of the workshops.”
“It was excellently organised and ran smoothly. The sessions were varied and interesting. I enjoyed the practical sessions. The evening event gave the chance to talk to each other more and build connections.”
“Networking with others, discussions on how intersectional oppression operates even within feminist spaces. Good balance between being informal/relaxed and clearly planned.”
“I met a wide range of inspirational feminists and those researching feminism in some way.”
“It felt like a very safe space, and everyone was very respectful of different views. I learnt a lot.”
“I want to say a huge thank you to the organisers. This was an outstanding event. I felt safe to share opinions and to explore new ideas. I built a lot of connections and had a generally fantastic time.”
Improvement for future events:
Attendees stated that it would be great to see more supervisors or senior academics attending. Also, to see more diversity in the attendees, including BAME academics. Although the event was promoted as open to all there was only one male attendee, who was one of the speakers. It was felt that having more male attendees would encourage feminism to be seen as for all people not just women.
Informal Feedback from discussion at the end of the event
This included the future direction/activities for the network to engage with:
- Wellbeing and Mental Health – panel key theme, addressing rather than normalising, trauma as absent, reducing mental health to self-care and yoga, politically conscious approach, institutional biases as detrimental
- Racism – consider the reasons of the white space, how can we diversify presenters and attendees. Consider how it is advertised and where. If keeping the conference small participants should provide a paragraph on why they want to come.
- Possibility of doing a Campaign on Teaching/Precariarity
- Some future campaign/event on Gender Violence and Sexual Abuse
- Decolonising the Curriculum – Work in Schools?
- Community Outreach Mentorship – advice on how to navigate the system in a feminist way
- Mentoring Scheme – would be good but takes time/effort to set up, perhaps approach CHASE about providing a student a six month placement to establish a mentoring scheme
- Buddy scheme in network – Set up Sharing writing, keep simple
Twitter #CHASEFemShare with photos/comments about the event:
Feedback from the event was overwhelmingly positive and as an additional outcome has resulted in the recruitment of a new organising committee for the year ahead. The event filled up quickly with minimal advertising showing a real appetite for this kind of event in future. We are applying for funding to run this event again and will keep the blog post updated as soon as we have any further information.