Troubling Gender: Theory and Method
University of Tartu, Estonia
3–7 February 2020
Estonian Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts (GSCSA) and Estonian Graduate School of Linguistics, Philosophy and Semiotics (GSLPS) invite you to participate in the 9th Winter School “Troubling Gender: Theory and Method”.
What is the relationship between biology and culture? How is gender difference marked by race, class, sexuality, or geopolitical location? Do gendered cultural practices reproduce social norms or is there space for subversion? How do we trace gender in texts and archives? Is knowledge gendered? How does the notion of gender travel between cultural locations? How do we make space for embodiment and matter in our intellectual debates? These and many other questions have generated intense theoretical discussion in gender research.
Gender scholars have also sought to challenge ‘malestream’ epistemological premises and to develop methods that seek to overcome implicit biases of gender-blind research tools. This has resulted in increased attention to the location and role of the researcher, reflection as a compulsory part of research practice and empowerment of research subjects, to give but a few examples. Gender research has probed the different ways of thinking inclusively, intersectionally and transversally that can inspire scholars of many fields.
The 2020 Winter School aims to revisit these and many other current theoretical and methodological debates to probe how these contentions can provide useful insights across the humanities.
The programme of the Winter School consists of:
1) interdisciplinary lectures and discussions conducted by both Estonian and guest lecturers;
2) small-group seminars (for which prior preparatory work is expected);
3) one day of specialised and practical workshops outside the customary classroom environment.
All workshops require previous registration. Plenary lectures are open to the public!
The language of the course is English.
The registration is open to both doctoral students of Estonian and non-Estonian universities interested in the topic. Grounded applications of MA students are considered for participation by the organising committee.
Online registration opens in November 2019.
Deadline for registration by web-form: December 2019.
The accommodation and travel costs of the students of GSCSA and GSLPS will be reimbursed. Accommodation will be arranged by the organizers.
Upon approval of their participation, the students of non-Estonian universities may additionally apply for accommodation which can be provided to a limited number of participants for the time of the Winter School. Graduate schools cannot cover the travel expenses for the visiting students' tickets. In case doctoral students are accepted for the Winter School, there is no registration fee.
Student’s participation in the full programme of the event is confirmed by the student’s signature on the signature sheets of the event (separate sheet for each day).
Participants gets a certificate of completion (completed the full programme) or a certificate of attendance (attended part of the programme). The certificate of completion or attendance can be either electronic (sufficient for using within the University of Tartu) or on paper.
February 3, Monday
9:15–9:50 Opening reception and registration
9:50–10:00 Opening words, Prof. Kristin Kuutma, Programme Director of the Winter School (Jakobi 2–226)
10:00–10:45 Prof. Jack Halberstam (Columbia University) (Jakobi 2–226)
Exit Routes: On Dereliction and Destitution
Moderator: Prof. Raili Marling (University of Tartu)
For so long we have proposed considering the politics of this or the politics of that – the politics of transgender, the politics of sex, the politics of performance, the politics of resistance – what if politics itself, as a concept and a framework is not the solution but the problem. In other words, what if this need to legitimate everything via the political as we currently understand politics (activities associated with governance) is part of the problem in that it leads to certain kinds of projects and it disallows others – the propulsive projects that engage making, doing, being, building, becoming, knowing, declaring, proposing, dealing, moving and so on.
Jack Halberstam is Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University.
Halberstam is the author of six books including: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011) and Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and, most recently, a short book titled Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variance (University of California Press). Places Journal awarded Halberstam its Arcus/Places Prize in 2018 for innovative public scholarship on the relationship between gender, sexuality and the built environment. Halberstam is currently working on several projects including a book titled WILD THING: QUEER THEORY AFTER NATURE on queer anarchy, performance and protest culture the intersections between animality, the human and the environment.
11:15–11:45 Coffee break
11:45–12:30 Prof. Angela McRobbie (Goldsmiths College, University of London) (Jakobi 2–226)
Feminism and the Politics of Resilience (video lecture)
Moderator: Prof. Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu)
The focus in this lecture is on the interruptive force which new feminisms present to capitalist consumer culture. The lecture proposes that a socio-therapeutic device evident across popular culture and labelled the 'perfect-imperfect-resilience' navigates a terrain so as to seemingly embrace elements of the new feminism while at the same time displacing its political force by means of a logic of substitution, which also marks a pulling away from 'neoliberal leadership feminism' in favour of a re-inflected liberal feminism. A psycho-analytically informed argument urging a feminist emphasis on questions such as 'who are you?' counters the invidious popular morality of 'resilience'.
The lecture draws on contemporary women's magazines and popular culture. It is a chapter from my new book titled "Feminism and Neoliberalism: Gender and the Politics of Resilience" (Polity 2020).
Angela McRobbie is Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths University of London.
Angela McRobbie is Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London. Her most recent books are The Aftermath of Feminism (2008, trans into German VS Verlag 2010), Be Creative :Making a Living in the New Culture Industries 2015 (trans into Greek 2020) and Feminism and The Politics of Resilience (2020). She is Fellow of the British Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and holds an Hon. Doctorate from Glasgow University in Scotland. She began her academic career in the mid- 1970s at Birmingham University Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies publishing her early work and first dissertation on girls’ magazines in the late 1970s. Since then she has undertaken extensive research on young women and sexuality, the magazine as feminine genre, youth culture, new creative labour markets, the fashion industry and designers as micro-entrepreneurs, cultural theory of precarious work, feminist theory, European fashion industry in digital economy, feminism, neoliberalism and anti-welfarism in popular media. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4 Thinking Allowed, to openDemocracy, and BBC Radio Women’s Hour.
14:30–16:00 Parallel seminars
Wildness is a great category with which to think. It references all at once the opposite of civilization; the idea of unsorted relations to knowledge and being; nature after nature; queerness after and before nature, and life as an encounter with both the bio-political forces of being and the necro-political forces of unbecoming. We will start by locating wildness as a disorderly and disordering discursive frame and then move to the topics of decolonial bewilderment, race and sexuality, anarchy and destitution, animal politics.
Assoc. Prof. Katrin Tiidenberg (Tallinn University) (Jakobi 2–438)
Feminist Interpretations of People’s Social Media Experiences
We will discuss how different theoretical and conceptual feminist perspectives (i.e. post-feminism, neoliberal feminism, empowerment, agency) interpret people’s (in particular women’s’) experiences of presenting themselves, in particular their bodies or their sexualities, on social media. How can we, as researchers, make sense of people’s everyday lives without sacrificing neither the critical, intersectional perspective of feminism, nor the nuance and messiness of lived experience? How can our interpretations and inferences be mindful of the sexist, ageist, racist, sizeist, ableist dominant discourses without dismissing the agency of our research participants as they interpret their own experience?
Katrin Tiidenberg is an Associate Professor of Social Media and Visual Culture at the Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School of Tallinn University, Estonia. Her recent books include: Ihu ja hingega internetis: kuidas mõista sotsiaalmeediat (“Body and Soul on the Internet: Making Sense of Social Media” in Estonian, 2017), Selfies, Why We Love (and Hate) Them (2018, in Korean in 2020), and the forthcoming Sex and Social Media (2020, co-authored by Emily van der Nagel). She serves on the Executive Board of the Association of Internet Researchers and the Estonian Young Academy of Sciences. Her research interests include social media, digital research methods and research ethics.
February 4, Tuesday
10:00–10:45 Prof. Gabriele Griffin (Uppsala University) (Jakobi 2–226)
Staying with the Trouble: Issues of Ethics and Researcher Self Reflexivity in the Age of Digitality
Moderator: Dr. Redi Koobak (University of Bergen)
Research involving digital platforms, online fora, blogs, digitized collections, chatrooms, ‘big data’ etc. has become very widespread across a range of disciplines, not least in Gender Studies, in the past decade or so. Simultaneously we have seen the rise of digital security breaches, securitization, cybercrime, de-privatization, changes in notions of intimacy and the meaning of ‘friending’. As governments grapple with questions of data security and researchers increasingly use the internet, digitized data and online materials to conduct their research, questions of how we understand technology and digitality, and how these understandings might impact on our research, become more prominent. This is all the more evident in a supposedly post-human, post-disciplinary, post-truth, post-gender (???) age in which the very structures of digitality, its algorithmic logics, etc. represent the reverse of the supposed fluidity of gender, boundaries, identities etc. that contemporary feminist work has proclaimed. How do we as researchers concretely engaged in carrying out feminist research respond to these challenges? How do we understand the genderedness of digitality? How can we conduct ethical research that engages self-reflexively with its production? What are its pitfalls and opportunities?
Gabriele Griffin is Professor of Gender Research at Uppsala University, Sweden.
Prior to that she held the Anniversary Chair in Women’s Studies at the University of York, UK. She is coordinator of the Nordforsk-funded Centre of Excellence, ‘Women in Technology-Driven Careers Inside and Outside of Academe’ (2017-2022), and editor of the ’Research Methods for the Arts and Humanities’ series (Edinburgh University Press). Recent publications include Bodily Interventions and Intimate Labour: Understanding Bioprecarity (co-ed., Manchester University Press, 2020); Body, Migration, Re/Constructive Surgeries: Making the Gendered Body in a Globalized World (co-ed., London: Routledge, 2019), and Research Methods for Creating and Curating Data in the Digital Humanities (co-ed., Edinburgh University Press, 2016).
11:15–11:45 Coffee break
11:45–12:30 Prof. Anne Pauwels (SOAS, University of London) (Jakobi 2-226)
Gender Troubles in Language: Reflections on the Complex Relationship Between Gender and Language
Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Virve-Anneli Vihman (University of Tartu)
In the Anglophone world the second wave of feminism – 1960s to 1980s – started paying attention to how women were represented in language systems and how their communication styles and patterns were evaluated. The ground-breaking work by Robyn Lakoff (1975) – Language and Woman’s Place triggered decades of research looking at the unequal (discriminatory) treatment of women in language and of their language practices. The former area is better known as linguistic sexism whereas the latter area focuses on gendered ways of speaking. My lecture will focus on the former: I will discuss some key elements in the representation of gender in several language systems as well as discuss various approaches to changing/reforming gender-based discrimination (Pauwels 1998). At the end of the lecture I will comment on the future of such reforms in light of the changing conceptualisation of gender from a (more or less) binary concept to one that stresses fluidity.
Lakoff, R. 1975. Language and Woman’s Place. New York: Harper& Row.
Pauwels, A. 1998. Women Changing Language. London: Longman.
Anne Pauwels is Professor of Sociolinguistics in SOAS, University of London and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Australia.
Language and gender is one of her main areas of expertise. She is the author of Non-discriminatory language (1991), Women changing language (1998), Boys and foreign language learning (2005). She has co-edited a volume of the Handbook of Applied Linguistics entitled Language and communication: Diversity and Change (2007) in which aspects of language and gender are discussed. She has written many articles and papers on various aspects of the relationship between language and gender including the role of women and men in language change, language shift and multilingualism, feminist language reform, non-discriminatory language policies, gender and language learning. She has advised national and international institutions and governments on avoiding gender bias in official and public discourse. Currently she is working on the implications for language (reform) of the changing perception around gender.
14:30–16:00 Parallel seminars
Prof. Gabriele Griffin (Jakobi 2–129)
Staying with the Trouble: Issues of Ethics and Researcher Self Reflexivity in the Age of Digitality Seminar
In this session we will start from YOUR projects (PhDs) to explore issues of ethics and researcher self reflexivity in the age of digitality. Note that the phrase ‘researcher self reflexivity’ appears without hyphen as it might refer either to researcher-self reflexivity or to researcher self-reflexivity. The first question to be addressed in the seminar therefore is:
1) How do digitality and associated ethical issues feature in YOUR project?
From this we will go on the explore the ideas presented in the reading you have been sent and address the following issues (organized around the specific texts we’re looking at):
a) How useful is the distinction between public and private in deciding ethical questions in relation to your research?
b) How do you understand the notion of effective consent in the context of digital data and what do you make of the idea of ‘ethics of care’ in this context, particularly the suggestion (Tiidenberg, p. 475) to create composite accounts, fictional narratives, and remix techniques to protect the identity of participants?
c) Unintended consequences and incidental findings in digital research – how might we deal with those?
d) How do you understand participant-oriented digital research and what are its limits?
e) What do you think of the ‘road map for an alternative data-analysis practice (Leurs, pp. 139-140.)
The workshop will follow up on the final issue raised in the lecture: gender ‘assignation’ is increasingly moving away from a binary category – male/female or feminine vs masculine – to being multifarious – encompassing many iterations of these ‘traditional’ categories. A good illustration of this development is the constant changes in the acronym [English] dealing with gender and sexuality: a few decades ago it used to be L&G [Lesbian and Gay] or LGB [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual], then LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/Transgender] or LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual/Transgender and Queer]. More recent iterations include LGBTQI (with the I representing Intersex]. We will be discussing how these changing conceptualisations of gender ‘assignation’ should or could be represented in language, paying specific attention to legal contexts.
February 5, Wednesday
Parallel Workshops, 10:00-17:00 (registered participants)
Workshop 1 (Tartu Nature House, Lille 10)
Politics of Location in Academic Writing
Dr. Redi Koobak (University of Bergen) & Prof. Raili Marling (University of Tartu)
Academic writing tends to assume a view from nowhere, an impartial position that is supposed to guarantee the objectivity of assessment. However, we all come from somewhere and the politics of location is especially important for gender research. In this workshop, we will guide PhD candidates to reflect on their own geopolitical location, as it intersects with race, class, gender and sexuality, and how this impacts their research project. We will also address inclusive language.
To complement the academic perspective with an activist one, we have invited editors involved in feminist publication to give advice on how to make one’s research more accessible to the mainstream readership through creative writing.
To prepare for the workshop, you will have to read one article, but the focus will be on writing shorter texts during the workshop and sharing our writing with others.
Redi Koobak is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research, University of Bergen, Norway.
She has worked as Assistant Professor in Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden and as Visiting Lecturer in Feminist Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, USA. Her current research interests include feminist visual culture studies; intersections of postcolonialism and postsocialism; discourses of war, gender and nationalism; transnational and local feminisms; and creative writing methodologies. She has extensive experience leading creative academic writing workshops in Sweden, Norway, Hungary, USA and South Africa. Koobak is the author of the monograph Whirling Stories: Postsocialist Feminist Imaginaries and the Visual Arts (2013). She is currently working on a project on the impact of the #metoo movement on academia.
Raili Marling is the Professor of English Studies at the University of Tartu, Estonia.
She has also taught in the USA and New Zealand. She has published extensively on contemporary literature, gender and power in public discourse and tensions around gender in the post-socialist context. Her current research focuses on the representations and representability of the contradictory affects generated by neoliberal rationality and their gendering. She works above all with contemporary American fiction but also with public discourse, to find ways of reconciling critical affect studies, post-structuralist discourse theories and feminist and queer theory. She has been the managing editor of Aspasia: International Yearbook of Central, Eastern and Southeastern European Women’s and Gender History and Ariadne Lõng, Estonian journal of gender studies.
Kadi Viik is editor at Feministeerium, a feminist web magazine in Estonia. Viik has a background in human rights and has previously worked for the Estonian government as Head of the Gender Equality Department and the UN agencies UNDP and UNFPA with sexual and reproductive rights. She was one of the editors and authors of the anthology Tilliga ja tillita: retsepte Eesti feministidelt (2003). She studied creative writing for three and a half years before co-funding Feministeerium in 2015.
Aet Kuusik is an editor at Feministeerium, a feminist web magazine in Estonia. Aet has studied linguistics at Tallinn University and worked as an editor for over ten years. Their work has included texts from a wide range of genres – from institution documents to articles, novels, short stories, and poems. They have also been involved with two documentary theatre project about sexuality and gender equality as a playwright (“Real women, real men, and real others” (2015) and “How to say yes? (2019). They have also co-organized feminist festival Ladyfest Tallinn (2011–2015).
Tartu Nature House (Lille 10)
Workshop 2 (Tartu County Court, Kalevi 1, court room 545)
Moot Court – Justice for Sexual Assault Victims and Fair Trial
Mari-Liis Sepper (Praxis Centre for Policy Studies)
Moot alias mock court format workshop invites the participants to imagine a forum where justice for sexual assault victims is played out. Court procedure simulation is open for all non-lawyers who wish to make a case for #MeToo movement side by side with the human rights guarantees for parties concerned. Participants will be taking on roles of defenders and accusers as well as jurors to argue and deliberate cases of sexual violence. No prior legal knowledge is required.
The venue of the workshop is accessible for wheelchair users. For more information on accessibility please contact the organizers.
Mari-Liis Sepper is one of the leading legal experts of gender equality and equal treatment in Estonia with more than 15 years of experience. From 2010 to 2015 Mari-Liis acted as the Gender Equality and Equal Treatment Commissioner, the National Equality Body in Estonia. She has been a member of the Executive Board of EQUINET, the network of European National Equality Bodies. She has worked extensively with women’s groups, LGBTQI+ and disability organisations.
Mari-Liis holds a MA in law from the University of Montpellier (France). She is an experienced trainer and an author and editor of number of publications on gender equality, trans rights and intersectionality.
Tartu County Court (Kalevi 1)
Please note that for security reasons all visitors/participants and their belongings shall be screened.
Workshop 3 (St. Anthony's seminar room, Lutsu 3)
(Gendered) research(ers) on Social Media: Opportunities and Challenges
Prof. Andra Siibak (University of Tartu) & Dr. Maria Murumaa-Mengel (University of Tartu)
In the first part of the workshop we invite the participants to reflect upon their own social media use as young scholars and plan their future social media presence in a way that aligns best with their personal goals. We have prepared some good and bad examples of inreach and outreach work by various scholars that serve as a basis for further discussions. We will make use of some examples from the field of microcelebrity-studies so as to look for universal attention-seeking and audience-reaching strategies that could also be employed by academics.
Second part of the social media workshop will concentrate on different empirical gender-related studies where the data collection and/or analysis has taken place in online spaces and social media. We will discuss the opportunities, potential risks and ethical considerations when conducting research in/on (semi-public) online spaces, dealing with sensitive and emotional topics. Furthermore, we will discuss the role and impact researchers’ actions may have both on online communities at large, and when contributing to the digital shadows of every participant.
Andra Siibak (PhD in media and communication): is Professor of Media Studies and program director of the Media and Communication doctoral program at the University of Tartu. Since 2007 she has worked at the Institute of Social Studies on topics related to the opportunities and risks associated with the internet use, people’s social media usage practices, intergenerational relationships on social media, new media audiences and privacy. She has worked as a research assistant and post-doc researcher in Södertörn University, Sweden (2009-2012); been a visiting researcher in Aarhus University, Denmark (2011) and a visiting professor in Vidsžeme University of Applied Sciences, Latvia (2019). She has published more than 70 peer reviewed papers in international journals and edited collections; served as a reviewer to more than 20 peer-reviewed international journals and belongs to an editorial board of Cyberpscycholgy and Social Media + Society and Media Studies. She has been a member of various international research projects and networks (e.g. EU Kids Online; COST Action Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies; COST Action DigiLitEY) and acted as an expert consultant for different projects initiated by the European Parliament, European Commission, European Council and OECD. She also served as the main organizer and program chair of the Association of Internet Researchers conference AoIR2017 in Tartu (18.-21.2017). In 2015 she was awarded the Young Scientist Award by the President of Estonia and in 2017 she was awarded The Outstanding Young Person of Estonia (TOYP) award.
Maria Murumaa-Mengel (PhD in media and communication) is a social media lecturer and the program director of journalism and communication at the Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu. She is involved in research focusing mainly on young people’s use (and non-use) of social media, digital literacies (e.g. social media literacies and porn literacies) and the transformation of private and public in online spaces. More specifically, her most recent research has looked into how online risks (cyberbullying, e-bile, online shaming) and opportunities (online-participation and creation, intimacy) are changing everyday practices of youth.
St. Anthony's seminar room (Lutsu 3)
Workshop 4 (Living Room Behind Stage, Widget Factory Kastani 42)
Gender and Violence
Dr. Kadri Simm (University of Tartu)
Is violence a necessary and constitutional part of human (nature)? Certainly all kids hit each other at some age (and it is considered developmentally normal), wars have characterized human existence throughout, and the very justification for the existence of the state has been thought to lie in the need to curb violence. A sociobiologist would observe the ants and the lions and conclude that violence is, in fact, perfectly natural! Yet most moral and political theories have throughout thousands of years tried to argue for strict limitations on violence. However, rarely has the focus been on gender or violence against women. In fact, the concepts, the arguments and the frameworks have often successfully constructed a world where gender-based violence has been invisible. For example, the well-known public/private divide crucial for liberal political theories for a long time meant that domestic violence and marital rape were not recognized.
Thus one of the most brutal and yet sadly traditional “troubles” associated with gender concerns violence. These days it is often referred to as gender-based violence - violence whose roots lie primarily in the gender of the victim. Associated with some of the most persistent violations of human rights globally, gender-based violence is often linked to gender inequality. Therefore, a more radical and larger question needs to be asked too – is gender-based violence rooted systematically in our cultures? If yes, then we should not treat instances of gender-based violence as isolated acts of psychologically disturbed individuals but attempt to approach this problem keeping in mind its systemic nature.
The Council of Europe’s Istanbul convention outlines that gender-based violence usually manifests itself in one (or more) of the following forms: physical, economic, sexual and psychological. Our workshop will mainly focus on aspects of the third and fourth type, more specifically on sexual violence and verbal violence (violence in speech, through language).
Our workshop is broadly divided into three sessions:
- Philosophical reflections on gender-based violence, with special focus on two fundamental issues central to this phenomenon - the in/equality debate and the private/public divide. These concepts and how we perceive and apply them are crucial in understanding how and why gender- based violence operates.
- A session on sexual violence. Drs Made LaanpereMade Laanpere is a medical doctor at the Tartu University Clinic, lecturer in obstetrics and gynecology in University of Tartu and the president of the Estonian Gynaecologists Society. and Kai PartKai Part is a medical doctor at the Tartu University Clinic and Tartu Clinic of Sexual Health, lecturer in obstetrics and gynecology in University of Tartu. have been at the forefront of building up a system of clinics that deal with the victims of sexual violence in Estonia. They will discuss their experiences.
- A session on violence in language/speech. Can speech constitute a form of violence? Or does that idea make sense exclusively as a metaphor? Alex DaviesAlex Davies is a researcher in Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu. He is a philosopher of language working on miscommunication, politics of speech, context sensitivity and number of other related themes. More information is available from his homepage. (a philosopher of language who has published on the regulation of extreme speech in a liberal context) will lead a seminar that explores one or two attempts to show that speech can literally constitute a form of violence.
Kadri Simm is Associate Professor of Practical Philosophy in Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu.
Her background is interdisciplinary, having first studied history (University of Tartu), she then did her MA in gender studies (Central European University) and her PhD in philosophy (Tartu). Many of her projects are located at the intersections of moral and political philosophy, health care and new medical technologies. She has previously published on benefit-sharing debates in biomedicine, ethical and social aspects of genetic research, mental health, feminist philosophy and theories of justice.
Living Room Behind Stage / ELUTUBA LAVA TAGA (Widget Factory, Kastani 42)
Living Room Behind Stage is located in the Aparaaditehas Culture Factory. The entrance is in the courtyard, placed next to Kogo Gallery. Free guest parking is available across Kastani street behind Hektor hostel.
Workshop 5 (Science Center AHHAA, seminar room Apollo, Sadama 1)
The Ambivalences of Oral History Tool: Contexts and Backgrounds in Interviewing
Dr. Anna Zawadzka (Polish Academy of Scinces)
Gathering data through interviewing has a long history in scholarship, well before historians discovered it in the 20th century as a method of investigating the past. Since the invention of the voice recorder in the 1960s, the method has become widespread and began to be considered the perfect tool to fill in the gaps in mainstream knowledge of the past and society. Those who did not then have a voice – women, ethnic minorities, the working class – were to be given their new space in historiography.
Yet the postmodern critique of this booming field of research and the conviction that there are no ‘ultimate facts’, only interpretations, brought a major shift to the method. Who has the interpretative authority? Whose voice is dominant in the final scholarly text? Is oral history just another source, like all the others, to scrutinise as piece of evidence?
Moreover, does this method harvest facts, or rather impressions of them? The data we collect while interviewing, what are they about: the events and phenomena we ask about and respondent wants us to inform, or respondents themselves: their mindset, world of their obviousnesses, limitations due to their placement in social stratification, their categories of perception?
How the socio-economic context - out of which gender roles and gender division of labour are crucial ones - intervene in the process of interviewing? How to estimate to what extent does it shape the experiences and the perception of interlocutors? How to make this interference a subject of acquired knowledge itself, instead of treating it as an obstacle? And, last but not least, what kind of ethical issues does this approach evoke?
The present workshop departs from these methodological and theoretical considerations to offer a hands-on space to discuss designing of research, mapping out case studies, and constructing interview scripts while being aware of the ambivalences of oral history tools.
The venue of the workshop is accessible for wheelchair users. For more information on accessibility please contact the organizers.
Anna Zawadzka is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. She is also a lectuter at Gender Studies, University of Warsaw. Her book The First Time. Constructing Heterosexuality (2015) was based on interviews with women about the experience of virginity and virginity loss. Her current research focuses on antisemitism and anticommunism as active forces within the framework of current historical politics in Poland.
Science Center AHHAA, seminar room Apollo (Sadama 1)
18:00–22:00 Dinner (registered participants only)
Tartu Art Museum (Raekoja plats 18)
Hosted by Rebeka Põldsam (University of Tartu)
Entrance from Kompanii street.
February 6, Thursday
10:00–10:45 Prof. Susanna Paasonen (University of Turku) (Jakobi 2-226)
Boredom and Enchantment in Networked Media
Moderator: Prof. Andra Siibak (University of Tartu)
According to a plethora of cultural diagnoses, the endless distractions of networked media, and those of social media in particular, are both addicting us and driving us to into states of perpetual boredom where nothing sticks, interests, or matters. While social media is broadly offered as a solution to boredom through the diversions it caters, these, combined with the habitual routines of using smart devices are regularly identified as being boring in themselves. Although this diagnosis of distracting boredom is often presented as being specific to the current socio-technological moment, its overall rationale echoes ones made by Simmel, Kracauer, Benjamin, and Lefebre alike in the course of more than a century. Engaging with these diagnoses, this talk does two things. First, it maps out boredom as an affective formation of flatness, blandness, and disinterest, and asks how it plays out in connection of media technology. Second, by taking cue from Jane Bennett, it reframes the issue as mundane enchantments and inquires after the value of micro-experiences, as small affective lifts, pushes and pulls, in and for everyday life. In doing so, I argue for understanding boredom not as the polar opposite of interest and excitement but as a matter of oscillating affective intensities, the outcomes of which are not predetermined or set.
Susanna Paasonen is Professor of Media Studies at University of Turku, Finland.
With an interest in studies of sexuality, networked media, and affect, she is the author of NSFW: Sex, Humor and Risk in Social Media (MITP 2019, with Kylie Jarrett and Ben Light), Many Splendored Things: Thinking Sex and Play (Goldsmiths Press 2018), Carnal Resonance: Affect and Online Pornography (MITP 2011), and the forthcoming Who’s Laughing Now? Feminist Tactics in Social Media (MITP, with Jenny Sundén) and Dependent, Distracted, Bored: Affective Formations in Networked Media (MITP). Susanna serves on the editorial boards of e.g. New media & society, Sexualities, and International Journal of Cultural Studies and is the PI of the Academy of Finland research project, Sexuality and Play in Media Culture (2017–2021) and the consortium, Intimacy in Data-Driven Culture (2019–2022).
11:15–11:45 Coffee break
11:45–12:30 Dr. Roberto Kulpa (University of Plymouth) (Jakobi 2-226)
Knowing Your Place: From Geo-Temporal Politics of Sexualities to Resistance as Resilience-in-Togetherness and Friendship
Moderator: Assoc. Prof. Kadri Aavik (Tallinn University)
This lecture aims to explore hegemonic occidentalist power discourses (governmental and academic) and to think about willful ways of resisting them. Myself (and many of my esteemed colleagues) have often claimed that the post-1989/post-2004 ‘Europe’ is re-framed through the tropes of sexularism (J. W. Scott 2009), e.g. Western core (or ‘Right(s)full Just Europe’), while ‘post-communist Central-Eastern Europe (CEE)’ is taken as permanently transitioning semi-periphery, subject to the global imperatives of neoliberal growth (Kulpa and Mizielińska 2011).
The geo-operationalisation of sexual politics between the core and the semi-periphery (Wallerstein 2004) through the top-down vectors of ‘leveraged pedagogy’ (Kulpa 2014) or ‘sexual humanitarianism’ (Fassin 2010; Mai 2014) has been analysed through the examples of power discourses embedded within various institutional actors, such as the European Parliament, European Court of Justice, inter-national feminist & LGBT organisations, national governments.
The occidentalism (esp. Anglo-American squint) is also present, and perhaps characteristic, of the academic knowledge production in/of gender and sexuality studies. Colleagues have shown how ‘queer epistemologies’ are too often tinted with gatekeeping and policing by the ‘native speakers’ of English (Silva and Ornat 2016). Others argue that structural and institutional economic inequalities, and individual complacency makes the ‘theory (Theory)’ the privileged capital of the Western scholars while ‘the Others’ are expected to be content as informants, data miners, case study analysts (Buchowski 2004; Kulpa and Silva 2016).
Yet, I do not want to settle on these ‘paranoid readings’ (Sedgwick 2003) of the manifold incarnations of the ‘us – them’ and ‘the West and the Rest’ (Hall) dichotomies. Not least for I fear that the line bifurcating critical and insightful activism/scholarship is too porous to avert the spillages of binarism and reification. But if so, then how do we – the ‘we’ of ‘Eastern Europeans’, of ‘non-Westerners’, of ‘non-natives’, of ‘The Rest’, of ‘the Others’ – resist these hegemonies to be able to flourish?
In the last part of the lecture, I will turn to thinking about the ‘weapons of the weak’ (J. C. Scott 1985) and ‘weak resistance’ (Majewska 2018) as possible modalities of willfulness (Ahmed 2014). Against, or rather in spite of, the (masculinised) heroism of coming outs, sexual revolutions, and spectacular displays of parades, I want to propose the ‘banality of friendship’, and an ethic of togetherness, as lived experiences, ethical concepts, and personal practices of not giving up, failing yet not falling, remaining truthful to your ideals, trusting, and being supported while supporting. Resilient, Together.
Roberto Kulpa is a Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Law, Criminology and Government, University of Plymouth.
He is interested in transnational sexual politics, nationhood and non-normative identities as interlocked with discourses of geography and temporality, and EUropeanisation. Another area of his research concerns the critical epistemologies of knowledge production in social and cultural studies, esp. in the contexts of the hegemonic geographies (‘West and the Rest’), and neoliberalisation of the education. The concept of ‘cultural translation’, the possibility of using decolonial and post-colonial theories in the study of ‘post-communist Europe’ is also important to me. Finally, recently he has been reading into ‘friendship’ and developing questions concerning wellbeing, resilience, and liveability in the precarious times.
14:30–16:00 Parallel seminars
The seminar will dwell on the topic of the morning lecture and concentrate on the following discussion points:
- How can we think of experiences of living with ubiquitous connectivity beyond narratives of loss?
- How would you distinguish dependence on networked media from being addicted to it? Does the distinction matter?
Dr. Roberto Kulpa (Jakobi 2–106)
Knowing Your Place: From Geo-Temporal Politics of Sexualities to Resistance as Resilience-in-Togetherness and Friendship
During the seminar we will pick up some of the themes and questions I have introduced during the lecture, and think collectively – together – about vignettes, obscurities, and heterotopias (Foucault) that are opening on our horizon.
Aside of the exalted perspectives, we shall mostly engage in thinking how some/any of these concepts and perspectives can be helpful in your own research projects, especially the theoretical and methodological toolboxes of your own research practice. So please be prepared to talk about your work, and not only about the set texts.
Finally, I also have a task for you. Having read the abstract above, and all the recommended readings, please suggest one text that in your opinion could act as a bridge between your research and my suggestions. (NB.: you can suggest an art object, film, physical artefact, exhibition, etc., – anything that seems meaningful to you).
February 7, Friday
10:00–10:45 Prof. Lucas Gottzén (Stockholm University) (Jakobi 2–226)
Foucault, Masturbation and the Caesura of Masculinity
Moderator: Dr. Tanel Lepsoo (University of Tartu)
This lecture introduces how poststructuralism, and particularly the work the French philosopher Michel Foucault, has been debated within masculinity studies. Discussions have ranged from ignorance, to critiques that he did not take gender relations seriously, to scholars employing his theories of power, discourse and subjectivity. I argue that Foucault has much to offer critical masculinity scholarship by re-reading his work as theories about men and masculinity. This is achieved by presenting two masculine figures that illustrate key components of his conceptual framework: the masturbating boy, where Foucault introduces the concepts “dispositif” (or apparatus) and biopower; and the free man in Greek and Latin antiquity, through which he theorized about the technologies of the self and the caesura of masculinity. Through exploring these concepts, masculinity emerges as a gendered technology for controlling sexual affect.
Lucas Gottzén is Professor at the Department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden.
His research takes feminist and critical perspectives on youth, gender and sexuality. His recent books include Av det känsligare slaget: Män och våld mot kvinnor (‘The (Un)Sensitive Kind: Men and Violence against Women’, 2019), Genus (‘Gender’, 2020, with Eriksson) and Routledge International Handbook of Masculinity Studies (2020, co-edited with Mellström & Shefer).
11:15–11:45 Coffee break
11:45–12:30 Prof. Todd Reeser (University of Pittsburgh) (Jakobi 2–226)
Approaching Affective Masculinities
Moderator: Dr. Jaak Tomberg (University of Tartu)
The central question asked in this talk is: what does or can “affect” do to masculinity? The notion that affect opens up gendered potentialities has important implications for critical studies of men and masculinity. Ineffable moments of visceral potentiality can have the effect of revisioning masculinity away from normativity or hegemony, of putting it into motion, or of queering it. The experience of affect or affective representation can be constituted by nondiscursive moments that transform the stasis and boundedness of normative masculinity, opening it up to new configurations. But also, those revisionary moments may be temporary, contained, and evoked only to be effaced, serving ultimately to reinforce the normativity or hegemony of masculinity in a more pernicious way than without them. Extending affect studies, this talk offers a series of analytic models or methods, with specific examples, that scholars can use and adapt in their own work on masculinity and affect.
Bibliography: “Approaching Affective Masculinities”
Todd W. Reeser is Professor of French and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. His research treats questions of gender and sexuality in early modern and contemporary Europe and of theoretical approaches to masculinity. His books include Moderating Masculinity in Early Modern Culture (2006); Masculinities in Theory (2010); Setting Plato Straight: Translating Ancient Sexuality in the Renaissance (2016).
14:00–15:45 Joint seminar
In this seminar, we will discuss select approaches to the critical study of men and masculinity. Using the film Force Majeure as a point of departure, participants are invited to reflect on the strengths and limits of studying men and masculinity from Foucauldian and affective perspectives. Foucault presents the concept “dispositif” to analyze power as an outside force that produces certain masculine subjectivities, and the “caesura of masculinity” to discuss how masculinity is produced through technologies of the self. Both concepts aim at analyzing how affect is controlled. In contrast, affective approaches can revision masculinity as asubjective and outside discursive constraints. The relation between comfort/discomfort and masculinity will serve as one case study in how a given affect can be considered alongside masculinity (via Ahmed). We will through group discussion elaborate on, and interrogate, these approaches as well as compare and contrast them.
16:15–17:15 Concluding Discussion (Jakobi 2-226)
So What? How to Incorporate Gender into Estonian Humanities Research
Prof. Raili Marling (University of Tartu)