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2024 ATGENDER CONFERENCE

GENDER STUDIES AND THE PRECARIOUS LABOUR OF MAKING A DIFFERENCE

​September 27-29 2024

Utrecht, Netherlands

The conference is supported by the Graduate Gender Programme/NOG (The Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies), The Department MCW (Media-en Cultuurwetenschappen), and Programme Language and Culture Studies (TCS) at Utrecht University.

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Artwork by Karolina Szpyrko

Call for participants

Transnational Solidarities with Palestine: From University Encampments to Digital Activisms

Please email your application to info@atgender.eu by 17:00 CET on Friday, 5th July 2024.

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

ABOUT
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Artwork by Karolina Szpyrko

The 2024 ATGENDER conference aims to explore the theme of Gender Studies and the Precarious Labour of Making a Difference: (Un)paid Jobs, Internships, and Volunteering in the Worlds of Activism, Profit, and Non-profit. Our conference provides a platform for scholars, researchers, and activists to share their insights and knowledge, and engage in meaningful discussions on issues related to gender, labour, and activism. Join us to learn from experts in the field and connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for making a difference.

The two-and-a-half-day conference will take place in two different locations. On September 27, 2024, we will be in Colour Kitchen (Pr. Christinalaan 1) for our half-day program and welcome reception. On September 28 and 29, 2024, we will be at Utrecht University’s different buildings on Drift (21 23) in the city center of Utrecht.

STREAMS

Doing gender-related work and producing feminist knowledge takes place across many contexts, both within and outside academia. Join us in exploring how the precarious labour (paid and unpaid) of Gender Studies experts (students, early career graduates, volunteers, professionals, teachers, researchers) makes a difference in activism, in institutions, and in social reproduction. Please find here the description of six exciting streams for the themes and perspectives that we imagine. Do not hesitate to propose alternative topics.

1 / Labour of feminist activism in the digital era
Coordinators: Ingrid Hoofd, Karolina Szpyrko and Emma Rainey

In this stream, we invite applications exploring precarious labour of all activist expressions: online and offline, local and transnational, grassroot and professionalised, ‘radical’ and ‘commodified’ or commercial. Within that, we welcome perspectives that engage in theorisations and conceptualisations of various forms of activist labour: affective and task-oriented labour, productive and reproductive, managerial, administrative, archival and intellectual, labour of resistance and labour of radical wit, as well as digital, street or office-based forms of activist labour with the inherently conflictual social phenomena they inspire (e.g. cases of defamation, deplatforming, celebritisation, intellectual property rights, cancel culture). 

We wish to go beyond activism of gender studies and feminism. Instead, we embrace a plethora of topics, subjects, groups and individuals become activist about: racial equality, abolition movements, climate justice, animal rights and cross-species justice, labour unionism, work conditions and poverty, decolonial, ani-war, and anti-genocide movements, to name just a few.

2 / Making a feminist difference within institutions
Coordinators: Berteke Waaldijk, Irina Gewinner, Carys Hill, Laurence Herfs and Lucie Naude

Producing feminist knowledge and doing gender-related work takes place in many institutional contexts, many of which will be marked and shaped by neoliberalism. For this stream, we invite papers that explore the ways in which gender experts & feminist scholars try, fail, succeed, and negotiate making a difference in such environments. 

Papers and round tables might address:

  • How to balance precarious employment with feminist commitments;

  • How to negotiate being implicated in institutional exclusion;

  • How to practise a politics of care in uncaring institutions, nurturing and educating activist mindsets, resisting damaging representations & framing of outsiders;

  • Gender studies education and the precarious labour market:

    • dealing with the increasing uptake of precarious low-paid work by students,

    • preparing students for precarious employment outside and within academia,

    • working with the knowledge and skills that experienced activists and professionals bring to feminist classrooms.

  • Internships in gender studies: contact zones of feminist activism and gender expertise or disciplining gender graduates for a neoliberal labour market;

  • Role of gender experts and feminist scholars in diversity and inclusion policies:

    • How can they make a difference beyond ‘doing the documents’? *

    • Feminist understanding of leadership in transforming institutions;

    • The tensions between public (governments, NGOs/non-profit) and private (freelance, consultancy) funding of projects and jobs for gender equality, queer inclusion, and anti-racism.

*Sara Ahmed (2007)

3 / Unequal power relations within gender studies
Coordinators: Angeliki Sifaki, Andromachi Koutsoulenti, Liz Ablett, Maria do Mar Pereira and Maria Elena Indelicato

One of the missions of gender studies has always been to identify and dismantle unequal power relations, namely within academia. And yet, since its emergence gender studies has been demonstrated to also function as a space of unequal power relations, reproducing the very hierarchies it seeks to critique. In discussions about gender studies as a site of work, there has been much debate about a range of power imbalances within the field, including its reliance on casualised labour or structural inequalities in who gets hired, cited or promoted. More recently, there has also been increasing attention to forms of bullying, abuse, and sexual/racial misconduct by ‘critical’ scholars towards students and precarious (usually early career) colleagues. The responses to these revelations have ranged from shock and surprise to weary resignation or the disappointment in how alleged perpetrators are supported by their institution/colleagues. Those seeking to redress abuse and inequality in gender studies have called for better or more institutional processes like equality action plans, complaint systems and other forms of accountability, though many have also drawn attention to the risks and limits of such mechanisms. This stream seeks to sensitively unpack what happens when we face inequality and abuse within our own communities – from other feminist, queer or decolonial scholars, for example – and what forms of accountability and justice we might seek beyond punitive logics and existing institutional models.

  • Labour conditions and inequalities within gender studies

  • Abuse, bullying and misconduct within gender studies

  • Intersection between precarity, the neoliberal model of producing ‘star academics’ and violence/abuse/misconduct/bullying within feminist, queer or other critical spaces within academia

  • Unequal power relations between supervisors and students within feminist and gender studies departments

  • Thinking about responses to the hurt or harm caused by misconduct: how do we practice and maintain critical and reflexive hope towards one another and gender studies?

  • Intergenerational conflict, gatekeeping, and withholding of career development resources

4 / Risks, dangers and prices paid in feminist and queer activism
Coordinators: Helen Aadnesgaard, Maryna Shevtsova and 
Åsa Ekvall

We delve into the complex and often hazardous world of unseen feminist and queer activism, exploring the risks, dangers, vulnerabilities, gender inequalities, and hidden prices that civil society organisations, activists, human rights defenders, academics, and scholars pay while contributing to social change. We aim to discuss different strategies to handle these vulnerabilities, survive, and sustain the activist activity. We encourage discussion and contributions that refer to an intersectional and multicultural lens. This encompasses:

  • activism in perilous zones

  • volunteering in powerful institutions

  • professionalisation of activism

  • affective labour in diverse activist settings

  • solidarity efforts in war zones and authoritarian regimes

  • concrete/latent dangers and risks that queer and feminist activists face, both in countries/communities where it is illegal to be queer/a queer activist and in more apparent liberal countries/communities

  • those who must act during wars, military conflicts, under growing authoritarianism, or increasing resistance against women’s and LGBTQ+ rights and in conditions that restrict in/directly the freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, protest, and academic liberties.

 

5 / Precarity of paid/unpaid care work
Coordinators: Guanqin He, Eva Schömer, Ece Canlı
and Melpo Paida

This theme stream explores the complicated dimensions of (un)paid care work and its connections to unequal distributions, social norms, and stereotypes about gender roles, etc. We invite contributors to delve into the multifaceted aspects of the precarity inherent in (unpaid) care work, including emotional, affective, physical, and mental labour that extend well beyond the traditional boundaries of professional spheres. This extends to domains such as homecare, healthcare, institutions, NGOs, and freelancing, etc. We invite papers that explore reproductive labour from systemic, institutional, gendered, and relevant dimensions of age, race, ethnicity, migration, etc. Submissions from Global South would be especially encouraged.

  • Precarious work of homecare

  • Labour of migrant care and migration 

  • Care and healthcare labour

  • Ageing, unpaid care work of elderly

  • Labour in international NGOs, 

  • Freelancers with feminist, antiracist, anti-ableist aims and agendas, etc.

6 / Affective, cultural and more than human relations
Coordinators: Demet Gülçiçek, Teresa Masini, Federica Castelli, Sanne Koevoets and Cecilia Heil

Desiring, attempting, succeeding or failing to make a difference in gender studies (and beyond) have a lot to unpack, whether this is through precarious or (un)paid work. ‘Our’ attunement (or lack of it) with the world around us can be/should be analysed beyond binary categories, focusing on affective, cultural and embodied relations. This strand invites researchers engaging with affect theories, cultural studies and more-than-human discussions with an interest on analysing complexities, contradictions and ambiguities, aiming to intervene to power dynamics. Methodological insights on the topic are welcomed in the strand.

  • Affects, emotions and moods in feminist and queer activism

  • Ways of relating to popular culture and popular feminisms

  • More-than-human engagements of making a difference

  • Artistic and cultural spaces

  • Feminist and queer historiographies

  • Anti-gender movements, gender backlash and ways of resistance

  • Political commitments

  • Politics of nostalgia

  • Imaginary Geographies, Orientalism, Occidentalism

  • Postcolonial theories

If you have any questions for the stream coordinators, you can reach us at atgenderconference@gmail.com. Please indicate clearly what stream you are enquiring about.

Artwork by Karolina Szpyrko

Submission details

Submissions for abstracts and roundtable proposals closed on 22 February, 2024. Conferencing otherwise submissions are still open until 15 March, 2024.

You will be notified about acceptance within four weeks of the deadline. After acceptance you may apply for a travel grant and fee waiver. Recipients will be notified before 19 April.  Registration and payment of the conference fee are due 15 May.

JOIN US AT THE CONFERENCE

CONTACT
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