January Bulletin

First Bulletin of 2020!

Happy New Year once again from all of us at PGRNScotland! No better time for an update on what the committee has in store for you this 2020.

We had our first committee meeting earlier this week and we have begun planning our annual conference to be held early June. We’ll be posting a Call for Papers late February-early March. As usual, we aim to keep the theme as broad as possible to allow submissions from as many fields as possible. What better way of ushering in the new decade that a symposium dedicated to examining the past, present and future of gender, to give us something to look forward to.

Keeping the conference in mind, our next step involves exploring funding sources in order to cover travel bursaries for our speakers. Any suggestions on funding bodies, particularly those committed to supporting gender studies would be welcome.

We are also looking for people who would like to write blogs for us. These do not need to be directly related to your academic work – all we ask is that they address issues of gender in academia and/or our general society. Do get in touch with us via email or Twitter if you would be interested in submitting something.

If you haven’t checked out our January Newsletter yet you can do so here.

That’s all for now folks!

 

 

January Newsletter!

hello january

January Newsletter

Hello PGRNS Network!

Welcome to 2020 and Happy New Year from everyone the PGRNS Committee! If you were thinking that January would be quiet for Gender Activities, Events, and Calls for Submissions (like me) you are absolutely wrong!

We have worked hard to go through our feed to bring you all the amazing opportunities that are being offered/could be of interest to gender scholars in Scotland. Have a look below and hopefully, something will bring you out of the post-holiday blues you may be feeling!

Upcoming Conferences

Scottish Funding Council National Gender Conference

  • 27 January 2020
  • DoubleTree Hilton, Glasgow Central
  • Cost: Free!
  • Registration Closes: 20 January 2020
  • More Information

WomenBeing 2nd International Interdisciplinary Conference on Gender Studies and the Status of Women Conference

Gendering European Studies Conference (& Call for Papers/Panels/Proposals)

  • 6-9 September for UACES 2020
  • Where: Belfast, Northern Ireland
  • Deadline for Submission of abstracts is 19 January 2020
  • More Information

The European Society for the Study of English: ESSE Conference 2020

Political Studies Association 2020 Conference: Re-Imagining Politics

Upcoming Events

Women’s Library Scotland, Create and Connect: Monthly Creative Writing Group (Recurring Event)

  • When: 11 January 10:30am-12:30 pm
  • Where: Edinburgh Central Library
  • More Information

Masterclass with Shatema Threadcraft

Jane Eyre: Gothic Rebel – A Live Screening

Making Her Mark: Celebrating Women in Renfrewshire (Recurring Event)

Scotland’s Feminist Future

  • 17 January 2020, 10.00-January 18, 2020, 17.00
  • Where: Glasgow Women’s Library, Glasgow
  • Event is currently full but email info@engender.org.uk to be added to the waitlist
  • More Information

Manufacturing the Natural Order with Dr Francesca Coin
(Examining colonial and patriarchal imaginary)

  • 22 January, 3pm-5pm
  • McCance Building, Room 319, University of Strathclyde
  • More Information

Reading Group for Muslim Women

  • 24th January 10.00-12.00
  • Glasgow Women’s Library
  • Contact: Syma.Ahmed@womenslibrary.org.uk
  • More Information

Readers of Colour: Read Women Writers of Colour

Art, Agency and Activism: Women Pioneers in Edinburgh and Chicago

  • 4 February 2020, 10am-1pm
  • Where: Riddle’s Court, Edinburgh and the Patrick Geddes Centre at Riddle’s Court
  • More Information & Tickets

What about men? Engaging boys and men in gender equality

  • 6 February 2020 17.30-18.15
  • Where: Murray Edwards, Buckingham House, Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DF
  • All Welcome, Booking Required
  • More information

Witches’ Gets

  • 20 February 2020, 6pm-9pm
  • Where: Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • Student Kim Seeberg is obsessed with researching the brutality of the Norwegian witch trials on the arctic island of Vardø over 300 years ago. Are the stories of these lost women and girls the true account of those persecuted or is Kim hearing voices?
  • More information

The Audacious Women Festival

  • February 20 – February 23
  • Where: Events all around Edinburgh
  • More Information

 

Call for Contributions/Papers/More

Beyond Form Symposium (Call for Contributions)

  • 1 May 2020
  • Where & When: The University of Glasgow
  • A One-Day Symposium on hybrid and experimental forms. Looking for proposals for panel presentations, performance, and art. More Information

Postgraduate Research Network of Scotland (Call for Blog Posts)

  • Deadline: rolling
  • Blog posts sought on any subject of gender research
  • More information 

Gender Politics Reading Group (Call for Lead Discussants on Readings)

  • Reading Proposals – to propose a reading in advance and then lead a discussion on a gender-related reading in a relaxed yet academic setting. Sessions usually run 4-5pm yet this is flexible. Or alternatively, presenting works in progress for peer review is also permitted.
  • Dates available:
    • 12th February 2020
    • 26th February 2020
    • 11 March 2020
    • 25th March 2020
    • 8th April 2020
    • 22nd April 2020
  • Contact: Rebecca.Hewer@ed.ac.uk

PhD Women Scotland (Call for Blogs)

  • Deadline: Rolling
  • Sign up for a blog space for 2019 by getting in touch with them.
  • Blog posts sought on any topic related to the PhD process – struggles, tips, great experiences!
  • More information

LSE Department of Gender Studies and Engenderings (Call for Blogs)

  • Deadline: rolling
  • Blog posts sought on transnational anti-gender politics
  • More information

Women, Gender, and Families of Colour (Call for Submissions)

The Economic and Labour Relations Review (Call for Submissions)

  • Deadline: rolling
  • Seeking submissions regarding low pay and wage theft
  • More information

Women Are Boring (Call for Blogs)

  • Deadline: rolling
  • A blog featuring research carried out by women in all fields and all disciplines.
  • Word limit approximately 1,000-2,000
  • Intended for a general audience with informal style and minimal jargon
  • Submit to womenareboring@gmail.com
  • More information

The History Girls Scotland (Call for Submissions)

  • Deadline: rolling
  • Topics relating directly to Scotland including feminism, history, heritage etc.
  • Word limit 1000 (flexible)
  • Website

Funding Opportunities

Upcoming Jobs

Edge Hill University, Ormskirk England

  • Graduate Teaching Assistant Posts
  • Closing Date is 23.59 on Friday 24 January 2020
  • More Information

Free Stuff

Free Online Course – Gender Representation and the Media

  • Register for the course by 20 January 2020 here
  • More information about the course here

Zero Tolerance ‘Talking Gender’

  • Zero Tolerance has launched a new online resource helping people to navigate difficult conversations about gender, especially with the ‘unconvinced’.
  • The blogs are
  • You can also join the conversation on Twitter #talkinggender

 

To Get Involved and Stay in Touch with PGRNS

  • Follow us on Twitter @PGRNScotland
  • Email us at PGRNScot@gmail.com to join the mailing list or Facebook group, tell us about an event or CFP, suggest a project, organise a pub night etc.
  • Join our Facebook group: Post-graduate Gender Research Network of Scotland – is a semi-private group so you can find us but you can’t see what’s going on until you’re a member.
  • Subscribe to our Blogand let us know if you would like to write a post for us!

 

Best Wishes and Happy 2020!
Emilia Belknap, Laura Shaw, Anna-Viktoria Vittinghoff, Sophie Duncan-Shepherd, Huzan Bharucha, Beth Wallace, and Anna McEwan

PGRNS Organising Committee

 

 

Feminist lessons for consumer research

Feminist thinking is re-emerging in consumer research literature; after a brief flurry of papers in the 1990s, critical feminist perspectives went somewhat quiet until the 2010s. In the 1990s, feminist researchers sought to question gender binary power dynamics, arguing that inadequacies in mainstream philosophical dichotomies privilege one of a pair (e.g. male perspectives privileged over female) (Catterall, Maclaran and Stevens, 2000). These researchers also challenged essentialist categories of gender, which led to feminist critiques of marketing practice such as highly stereotyped portrayals of men and women in advertising.

Any research involves power balances and imbalances, and these shift throughout the process between researcher and participant. There’s a range of feminisms out there to choose from, each with a different conceptualisation of power. What they have in common are principles such as men and women should be equal, patriarchy is the cause of inequality, and sex and gender are distinct, not interchangeable (Maclaran and Stevens, 2019).

So how can we try to incorporate feminist thinking into consumer research? What insights can we take from feminist research when working with our participants to investigate gender? And what else should we consider if we’re working with gender diverse and transgender participants?

Trans and non-binary people often experience vulnerability due to their gender; lack of acceptance from friends and family, precarious financial circumstances and difficulty accessing healthcare can contribute to this. Minimising harm is vital. Additionally, trans research has a problematic history, particularly in clinical medicine and healthcare where pathologizing and voyeuristic studies have taken place (Vincent, 2018). This background means researchers have a responsibility to be aware of circumstances, stories, wordings and perspectives that arise when discussing trans and gender diverse people’s experiences. This then has an impact on how we design our research, where taken-for-granted practices start to become more problematic.

Take interviewing (synonymous with qualitative research!), for example. Typically, we assume that anonymity potentially nullifies vulnerability in taking part in a research interview. However, as trans people often have a deadname (related to their pre-transition identity) in addition to their name, there may be situations where anonymity may remove agency from participants who wish to be visible, and means that the use of their name does not guarantee being unrecognisable (Vincent, 2018). To mitigate this, we can offer participants the option of choosing their own pseudonym. We can take a collaborative, conversational interview approach to facilitate “joint exploration of research questions” (Vera-Gray, 2017) , and to help address power balances in the research relationship. We can also use trans-affirming language specific to each participant (i.e. using pronouns and identity terms that are given and defined by each participant), to reduce ‘othering’ and increase participant comfort. This is acutely important given that, as mentioned before, transgender people have not been treated very respectfully or compassionately by researchers in the past.

Of course, these suggestions are just that – suggestions. And recommendations from cisgender researchers make assumptions about the desires and feelings of our transgender participants. When we fail to listen or to engage with our participants in ways that facilitate them, surely our research will then be less vibrant, challenging, transformative – and less feminist – than we hoped.

Written by Sophie Duncan-Shepherd, PhD researcher at University of Strathclyde

References

Catterall, M., Maclaran, P. and Stevens, L. (2000) ‘Marketing and Feminism: Current Issues and Research’, p. 282. Available at: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=2d77AQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA112&dq=hogg,+bettany+and+long+2000&ots=u60wrR_rTV&sig=aUZPILh22IbLeNTZTt2OsNCoU0A#v=onepage&q=hogg%2C bettany and long 2000&f=false (Accessed: 5 May 2019).

Maclaran, P. and Stevens, L. (2019) ‘Thinking through feminist theorising: poststructuralist feminism, ecofeminism and intersectionality’, in Dobscha, S. (ed.) Handbook of Research on Gender and Marketing. Routledge, pp. 229–251.

Vera-Gray, F. (2017) ‘Talk about a cunt with too much idle time’: Trolling feminist research’, Feminist Review, 115(1), pp. 61–78. doi: 10.1057/s41305-017-0038-y.

Vincent, B. W. (2018) ‘Studying trans: recommendations for ethical recruitment and collaboration with transgender participants in academic research’, Psychology and Sexuality. Routledge, 9(2), pp. 102–116. doi: 10.1080/19419899.2018.1434558.

For Love or Money or Both?

‘”For Love or Money – or Both?” can the complex relationship between care, money and love be disentangled?’[1]

The dichotomy between money and love in relation to care is often discussed within the frameworks of the equal pay debate, high concentration of women in low paid care jobs resulting in a pay penalty, as well as the familial responses to the growing female labour force participation. The problem of the nature of care being transformed when done for pay rather than out of love and solidarity has been addressed by many feminist scholars such as Nancy Folbre and Julie A. Nelson.[2] As a historian of women’s work and care, I have frequently come across arguments from both sides of the discussion, that is, ones advocating for a fair compensation to those (mostly women) performing care work, as well as the ones voicing the fear of pollution of the ‘sacred’ relationship between the care giver and the recipient through its commodification. Coming at the controversy from an equal-pay-feminist perspective, I have always leaned towards the former, thinking of the under-paid, often poverty-stricken care givers (again mostly women) and how their situation would improve should care work be structurally valued as a form of service deserving of pay, in other words commodified. Yet, blinded by my own pragmatism I have been unable to fully grasp the nuanced relationships between carers and the recipients, reciprocity and cash that cannot be simply transferred into a paid service available in the market.

At the beginning of the year I have joined a community project as a volunteer in a women’s group. I started coming to the community flat on a fortnightly basis to help with the running of the group and caring for the children of the member women. Not accustomed to childcare, or in fact any presence of small children, every single one of my visits has been exhausting, yet incredibly rewarding. I have really benefited from the time spent playing with the children, but also felt useful in facilitating the women’s participation in the group through looking after the children. It made me realise how fortunate I was to be in absolute control of my time.

Recently, the project was looking for a more permanent arrangement for childcare in the group and they offered a paid position to the volunteers for the group. This offer involved a greater time commitment, but the nature of the tasks the newly ‘employed’ member of the project was to perform was the same as what was earlier included in the previously voluntary position. I have given this some thought, but realised that my relationship to the tasks carried out would completely shift were I to receive pay. In my mind what until now constituted ‘volunteering’ would turn into ‘work’, which to me had a completely different meaning. I felt like my coming to the group would now be incentivised by pay and a sense of obligation (in a negative sense), rather than the sentiment of usefulness that brought me to the group in the first place and the fun time spent with kids which is how I came to think of it afterwards.

This experience brought me to reconsider the question of the money and love binary and really appreciate its complexities. It also, however, made me want to ponder the ways in which ‘work’ is understood (by me and those around me, but also in relation to specific tasks and who performs them). As a result of this introspective exercise I realised I have internalised the definition of work as ‘a paid, market oriented activity’ and automatically linked to something ‘negative yet necessary’, something that had to be endured. Receiving pay for my time spent in the community project would therefore reconceptualise ‘volunteering’ as ‘work’ and so cast a shadow over the activity itself. Even though my academic work largely studies the plurality of work in its paid and unpaid, productive and reproductive, marketed and subsistence forms, I am still to shed the first world, masculinist view of work as something carried out for pay as part of the market economy that often overlooks the majority of work done by women (often carried out without pay and outside of the market), involving the large bulk of emotionally charged care work.

Therefore, apart from sharing my ‘guilty feminist’ moment, allow me to draw a broader conclusion from this episode. The problem of pay for care does not only stem from the apparently irreconcilable relationship between money and love, but rather from the way ‘work’ itself is conceptualised as market oriented, for profit and a bit of a drudgery. Hence, through pay the nature of ‘care’ is shifted. Not only does it enter the slippery sloap of justifying a monetary compensation for something that ‘should be done for free, out of love’, but it is also redefined as ‘work’ (linguistically) and understood differently (semantically) adding a new dichotomy of ‘work=purchased’ and a ‘voluntary activity=given’ to the already extremely complicated image of care relations.

Julie A. Nelson argues that language matters when pay for care is discussed and suggests that using terms that are less emotionally charged (such as using the term ‘exchange of money’ as opposed to ‘pay’) could help reconcile the gulf between money and love in relation to care.[3] I want to suggest that language matters equally when bridging the divide between ‘work’ and activities performed on a voluntary basis (involving formalised volunteering as well as unpaid care). A broad (and universally accepted) definition of ‘work’ that includes activities paid and unpaid, market oriented as well as subsistence, productive and reproductive lies at the bottom of allowing paid care to be recognised as loving and adequate and at the same time as ‘work’ deserving of pay. Defining all forms of care, both paid and unpaid, as work may thus be the first step to acknowledging carers as workers whilst also allowing work to be more than just a means to subsistence.

 

Eliska Bujokova is a first year PhD student at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Gender History.  She is funded by the AHRC/SGSAH. Her research focuses on care and the economy in eighteenth century Britain.

 

 

[1] Nancy Folbre, Julie A. Nelson, ‘For Love or Money- Or Both’, Journal of Economic Perspectives’, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2000.

[2] Ibid, Folbre, N., ‘Measuring Care: Gender, Empowerment, and the Care Economy’, Journal of Human Development, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2006, Folbre, N., ‘Reforming Care’, Politics and Society, Vol. 36, No.3, 2008.

[3] Julie A. Nelson, ‘Of Markets And Martyrs: Is It OK To Pay Well for Care?’, Feminist Economics, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1999.

For Love or Money – or Both?

‘”For Love or Money – or Both?” can the complex relationship between care, money and love be disentangled?’[1]

The dichotomy between money and love in relation to care is often discussed within the frameworks of the equal pay debate, high concentration of women in low paid care jobs resulting in a pay penalty, as well as the familial responses to the growing female labour force participation. The problem of the nature of care being transformed when done for pay rather than out of love and solidarity has been addressed by many feminist scholars such as Nancy Folbre and Julie A. Nelson.[2] As a historian of women’s work and care, I have frequently come across arguments from both sides of the discussion, that is, ones advocating for a fair compensation to those (mostly women) performing care work, as well as the ones voicing the fear of pollution of the ‘sacred’ relationship between the care giver and the recipient through its commodification. Coming at the controversy from an equal-pay-feminist perspective, I have always leaned towards the former, thinking of the under-paid, often poverty-stricken care givers (again mostly women) and how their situation would improve should care work be structurally valued as a form of service deserving of pay, in other words commodified. Yet, blinded by my own pragmatism I have been unable to fully grasp the nuanced relationships between carers and the recipients, reciprocity and cash that cannot be simply transferred into a paid service available in the market.

At the beginning of the year I have joined a community project as a volunteer in a women’s group. I started coming to the community project on a fortnightly basis to help with the running of the group and caring for the children of the member women. Not accustomed to childcare, or in fact any presence of small children, every single one of my visits has been exhausting, yet incredibly rewarding. I have really benefited from the time spent playing with the children, but also felt useful in facilitating the women’s participation in the group through looking after the children. It made me realise how fortunate I was to be in absolute control of my time.

Recently, the project was looking for a more permanent arrangement for childcare in the group and they offered a paid position to the volunteers for the group. This offer involved a greater time commitment, but the nature of the tasks the newly ‘employed’ member of the project was to perform was the same as what was earlier included in the previously voluntary position. I have given this some thought, but realised that my relationship to the tasks carried out would completely shift were I to receive pay. In my mind what until now constituted ‘volunteering’ would turn into ‘work’, which to me had a completely different meaning. I felt like my coming to the group would now be incentivised by pay and a sense of obligation (in a negative sense), rather than the sentiment of usefulness that brought me to the group in the first place and the fun time spent with kids which is how I came to think of it afterwards.

This experience brought me to reconsider the question of the money and love binary and really appreciate its complexities. It also, however, made me want to ponder the ways in which ‘work’ is understood (by me and those around me, but also in relation to specific tasks and who performs them). As a result of this introspective exercise I realised I have internalised the definition of work as ‘a paid, market oriented activity’ and automatically linked to something ‘negative yet necessary’, something that had to be endured. Receiving pay for my time spent in the community project would therefore reconceptualise ‘volunteering’ as ‘work’ and so cast a shadow over the activity itself. Even though my academic work largely studies the plurality of work in its paid and unpaid, productive and reproductive, marketed and subsistence forms, I am still to shed the first world, masculine view of work as something carried out for pay as part of the market economy that often overlooks the majority of work done by women (often carried out without pay and outside of the market), involving the large bulk of emotionally charged care work.

Therefore, apart from sharing my ‘guilty feminist’ moment, allow me to draw a broader conclusion from this episode. The problem of pay for care does not only stem from the apparently irreconcilable relationship between money and love, but rather from the way ‘work’ itself is conceptualised as market oriented, for profit and a bit of a drudgery. Hence, through pay the nature of ‘care’ is shifted. Not only does it enter the slippery sloap of justifying a monetary compensation for something that ‘should be done for free, out of love’, but it is also redefined as ‘work’ (linguistically) and understood differently (semantically) adding a new dichotomy of ‘work=purchased’ and a ‘voluntary activity=given’ to the already extremely complicated image of care relations.

Julie A. Nelson argues that language matters when pay for care is discussed and suggests that using terms that are less emotionally charged (such as using the term ‘exchange of money’ as opposed to ‘pay’) could help reconcile the gulf between money and love in relation to care.[3] I want to suggest that language matters equally when bridging the divide between ‘work’ and activities performed on a voluntary basis (involving formalised volunteering as well as unpaid care). A broad (and universally accepted) definition of ‘work’ that includes activities paid and unpaid, market oriented as well as subsistence, productive and reproductive lies at the bottom of allowing paid care to be recognised as loving and adequate and at the same time as ‘work’ deserving of pay. Defining all forms of care, both paid and unpaid, as work may thus be the first step to acknowledging carers as workers whilst also allowing work to be more than just a means to subsistence.

 

Eliska Bujokova is a first year PhD student at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Gender History. She is funded by AHRC and SGSAH. Her research focuses on care and the economy in 18th century Britain.

 

[1] Nancy Folbre, Julie A. Nelson, ‘For Love or Money- Or Both’, Journal of Economic Perspectives’, Vol. 14, No. 4, 2000.

[2] Ibid, Folbre, N., ‘Measuring Care: Gender, Empowerment, and the Care Economy’, Journal of Human Development, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2006, Folbre, N., ‘Reforming Care’, Politics and Society, Vol. 36, No.3, 2008.

[3] Julie A. Nelson, ‘Of Markets And Martyrs: Is It OK To Pay Well for Care?’, Feminist Economics, Vol. 5, No. 3, 1999.

December Newsletter

christmas-tree-allergy

UCU Strike

Many of us have been on the picket lines this week or striking in solidarity as part of the #UCUstrike . The strike protests against casual contracts, excessive workloads, the gender pay gap and increasing pension contributions. The strike will continue this week until Thursday.

To keep up to date and find out more click here: #UCUstrike 

Call for Contributions

Engendering The Past: ‘Gender and Biographical Measures’

  • Reviewers and Editors also required
  • Deadline: 15th December 2019
  • More info

Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday 3rd December: Dr Graeme Brown, ‘What’s Wrong with Rape sentencing?’
  • More info
  • Friday 6th December: Sheila Rowbotham, ‘Interactions between left ideas of participatory democracy  and  workers’ control  in the  Women’s  Liberation  Movement from  the  late 1960s through  the  70s’
  • More info
  • Wednesday 11th December: Dr Laura Schwartz, ‘Feminism and the Servant Problem’
  • More info
  • Wednesday 18th December: Trans-inclusion and the Law: A Night of Discussion and Poetry
  • More info

To Get Involved and Stay in Touch with PGRNS

  • Follow us on Twitter @PGRNScotland
  • Email us at PGRNScot@gmail.com to join the mailing list or Facebook group, tell us about an event or CFP, suggest a project, organise a pub night etc.
  • Join our Facebook group: Post-graduate Gender Research Network of Scotland – is a semi-private group so you can find us but you can’t see what’s going on until you’re a member.
  • Subscribe to our Blog and let us know if you would like to write a post for us!

 

We wish you all the best for the festive season and a happy new year!

Emilia, Anna, Laura, Sophie, Huzan, Beth and Anna

PGRN Organising Committee

 

A Sociologist in a Business School: Finding your Home as an Interdisciplinary Researcher.

Defined as a synthesis of knowledge, perspectives or methods from different disciplines, interdisciplinary research is on trend. Funders are increasingly looking for research that speaks to a diversity of conversations and multiple disciplines, and the list of its benefits is long. For example, tackling a research subject from an interdisciplinary approach can raise questions that would not be otherwise answered through a singular lens. Yet, conducting interdisciplinary research on a practical level is not only difficult due to the multiple literatures to traverse, it is hard to find your research community and home.

Back in 2018 I was awarded a scholarship with the Adam Smith Business School (University of Glasgow) to research ‘The development of women’s leadership within the Scottish Parliament since devolution’. Sounds pretty sociological and political right? Having completed my undergrad in Sociology and Social Policy and MSc in Applied Social Research, and focusing both dissertations on women in Scottish politics, it felt strange to be within a business school and I certainly didn’t feel at home. My research spans both organisational and political literature as the Scottish Parliament and leadership are both organisational and political. For the first six months of my PhD, the primary words I heard from fellow PhDs were ‘entrepreneurship’, ‘innovation’, and ‘strategic management’ – none of which I know anything about, nor could I contribute to conversations about these things. My research felt extremely out of place, and whenever I had to discuss my research, I would prefix it with ‘it’s a bit of a weird one for the Business School’. When presenting my interpretivist, feminist methodology, none of my classmates had heard of feminist research methods and were mostly situated within the positivist camp.

New PhD researchers are routinely told to find your research community and home, but for me this was difficult. In fact, it probably took me almost a year to feel settled in my PhD work and appreciate the organisational literature which I was very reluctant to accept at first! I even struggled with the basics in organisational literature as it was completely new to me. I spent my first 6 months attending (observing) a series of conferences, mostly social science ones, to feel at home again and hear about more familiar-sounding research. This helped to galvanise and inspire my own writing. Now, I have found a good balance between sociology/politics and organisational literature. Similarly, I have also found the gender-scholars and researchers within the business school. Both bodies of literature have equally shaped the direction of my PhD and have complemented one another by making up for the other’s omissions. I feel that my PhD has benefitted from an interdisciplinary approach, despite my initial feelings of out-of-placeness as a sociologist in a business school.

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 15.10.42

All PhDs are puzzles – if they weren’t, they wouldn’t take 3+ years to complete! Each has its own complexities, messiness and difficulties to overcome. In true blogging fashion, I have written some tips for finding your research home that are also hopefully relevant for non-interdisciplinary researchers too –

  1. Know the value of your research

You wouldn’t be in the PhD process if your research wasn’t valuable. Even if people in your school don’t understand, or aren’t interested in your research, believe in what you are doing. Doing an interdisciplinary project will give you an advantage in the long run – you aren’t confined to one academic field!

  1. Attend conferences and events

Whether you are going to present or not, conferences are a good way to find out what others are researching and a good opportunity to make connections. Plus, as an interdisciplinary researcher, you might get the chance to attend conferences that span both fields you are looking at – that means double the conferences! We will also be running our annual PGRN conference in mid-2020 so keep an eye out!

  1. Join groups

As PhDs are routinely told, it can be a lonely progress. As gender is at the core of my research, I have found the PhD Women’s Group for Scotland group, the Post-Graduate Network for Gender Researchers (us!), the Gender History Network (University of Glasgow) a good way to meet like-minded people. The PhD Women’s Group often run writing retreats or organise meet ups too!

  1. Be active on Twitter and follow people with similar research interests

As an interdisciplinary researcher, you potentially have double the amount of people that share your interests in some way.

Join the conversation by telling us your tips or sharing your experiences as an interdisciplinary researcher in the comments below or on Twitter – @PGRNScotland

Written by Laura Shaw, PhD Researcher at the University of Glasgow.

November bulletin

Happy belated Halloween from all at PGRNS towers!

Wait, it’s November?!! Already?!!

I’m trying to look ahead to setting goals for 2020, including submitting articles and attending/presenting at conferences. With that in mind, I came across an extended call for papers deadline that might not have crossed the desks of those of us whose work lies outside of business schools: Gender, Markets and Consumers in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.  With a scope including historical inquiries, families, queer consumption, intersectionality, and visual consumption to name a few, there’s a variety of angles to investigate gender, and plenty to look forward to reading when the special issue comes out! The deadline for submission is 15 December.

Right, back to writing that 2020 goal list!

closeup photo of assorted color alphabets

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Sophie, on behalf of the PGRNS committee

 

November Newsletter

Bildergebnis für bothy scotland"

Upcoming conferences

Women’s History Scotland Conference, Edinburgh, 16th November 2019

Call for Contributions

Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, Special Issue “Affective Intimacies”

2nd Interdisciplinary Conference on Gender Studies and the Status of Women, Edinburgh, 8th-11th March 2020

ESSE Conference 2020, Seminar 57 “Genre, Gender and Nation in Early Prose Fiction in English (1660-1700)”, Lyon, France

Upcoming Events

Professor Eleanor Gordon – Sue Innes Memorial Lecture, “Sex and the single girl: Working-class courtship in Scotland, 1855-1939”, Edinburgh, 15th November 2019

Free Stuff

Zero Tolerance ‘Talking Gender’

  • Zero Tolerance have launched a new online resource helping people to navigate difficult conversations about gender, especially with the ‘unconvinced’.
  • The blogs are here.
  • You can also join the conversation on Twitter #talkinggender

Judith Butler’s Gifford Lectures

  • For those of us unlucky enough to miss out on her lectures in Glasgow, you can listen to them all online!
  • More information

EqualBITE: Gender equality in higher education

  • Free e-book
  • Get it here

To Get Involved and Stay in Touch with PGRNS

  • Follow us on Twitter @PGRNScotland
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An Introduction to Women in East German Cinema (1970-1989)

This month I started my PhD and though I felt completely daunted I decided to get a head start with my writing. My PhD is titled ‘Ein Frauenparadies: A gendered analysis of the social care system in the German Democratic Republic, 1970-1990.’ Part of my methodology involves using film and television and this post will introduce some of the main themes developing from my research, namely discussing two types of women that emerged from East German cinema of the 1970s and 1980s; socialist models and outsiders. 

In January 1946 the East German state-owned film company, Deutsche Film Aktiengesellschaft (DEFA), was founded amidst post-war destruction and decay. The film company’s initial productions, the Trümmerfilme (rubble films), of the 1940s and 1950s dealt with the Nazi past presenting clear cut lines between the evils of Nazism and the inevitable victory of Socialism.  In the 1960s women’s film developed as a genre in both East and West Germany latterly as Frauenfilme while the former came under the rubric of Gegenwartsfilme (films about contemporary society). Of the ninety films in this genre around half featured a female protagonist explaining the genre’s association with women. With the Berlin Wall’s construction in 1961 East Germans were safely enclosed inside socialist walls and the party leadership encouraged, to an extent, Gegenwartsfilme to address contemporary issues in East Germany. The films were a departure from employing the audio-visual as an educational tool, instead the films depicted societal conflicts that East German citizens could identity in their everyday lives.

The development of West German Chancellor, Willy Brandt’s, Ostpolitik in 1969 led to the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) recognition as a sovereign state, which ushered in a period of liberalisation in the arts under Erich Honecker’s leadership. In 1971, Honecker famously declared in his speech at the 8th Party Congress there should be ‘no taboos’ in the GDR’s cultural production providing work was produced from a socialist standpoint. However, this attitude was short lived; from 1973 tensions over cultural freedoms were evident in the ruling Socialist Unity Party’s (SED) reaction to the 1973 hit Die Legende von Paul und Paula. The ‘no taboos’ attitude was finally reined in in the form of singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann’s expatriation after his alleged slandering of the socialist republic on West German television.[1] Conversely, following the Biermann affair, DEFA underwent a time of appeasement realising East German audiences, as well as their film-makers, had to be lured from West German cinema. In this atmosphere, the late 1970s and early 1980s saw a burst of female led Gegenwartsfilme such as Sabine Wulf (1978), Bis dass Tod euch scheidet (1979) and Solo Sunny (1980). Cultural production of the 1980s was, however, characterised by repression heralded by a letter from a concerned citizen printed in party newspaper, Neues Deutschland, criticising contemporary film which was shockingly similar to the language and style of Honecker.[2]

Female led films were common in the Gegenwartsfilme genre where women were often evidenced as proof of the GDR’s existing gender equality through their agency, personal relationships and financial independence. In the character of Sonja (Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet), a suitable life plan is presented for East German women; Sonja marries young, has a child soon after (while planning for more) and hopes to return to work quickly to contribute to society. Strictly following a book gifted by her boss, Sonja ensures she raises her child properly, keeps her house in order and has dinner ready for her husband’s arrival home. It is her husband, Jens, who forces her to act outside the rules set in her guidebook. Sonja is unable to return to work owing to her husband’s refusal and she has an abortion after her husband continues to beat her and drink heavily. In the scene where Jens confronts Sonja about the abortion, she asserts her agency while also asserting the emancipation the GDR provided her as a woman:

Jens: “Whose child was it?”

Sonja: “A drunkard’s! An abuser’s! Yours!”

Jens: “Who gave you the right?!”

Sonja: “The law! My law! Mine!”

(Bis dass der Tod euch scheidet, Heiner Carow, 1979)

The 1979 production reflected the practice of portraying women as progressive and men as regressive. In Sonja’s character we learn women can have a family, a job, educational opportunities and importantly autonomy over their bodies. Although reactions to the abortion from Jens and Sonja’s mother reveals abortion was a last resort in any case, only acceptable in this situation owing to the bad, and, un-socialist behaviour of the husband. Discussing the film, Unser kurzes Leben (1981), Andrea Rinke argues men in East German cinema were often portrayed as lost characters lacking ambition, whereas women were enthusiastic examples for men to follow.[3]  The main character in this film, Franziska, skirts between the socialist model and outsider. On the one hand, she is highly qualified and passionate in her role as an architect part of the GDR’s housing mission, but she also questions the status quo. Franziska disagrees with her boss, and other male colleagues, on the purpose of the Plattenbau (high-rise) communities if they have lack cultural centres. Critique of the project is further evidenced in a rape committed on their construction site which Franziska feels solely responsible. However, because of her middle position between socialist model and outsider her character conveys that critique within socialist society can be a force for good. Discussing her idea to re-design Neustadt with her boss Franziska suggests working together can produce something new:

Franziska: “I don’t mean to insult you…I just want to start a dialogue. Maybe we can come up with new ideas, discover new opportunities and a few innovations.”

(Unser kurzes Leben, Lothar Warneke, 1981)

According to Rinke, because women were seen as unthreatening in the GDR’s patriarchal order they could ‘safely’ offer criticism of socialist society.[4]  In polar opposite order from Sonja and Franziska is Sunny (Solo Sunny) who represents the popular female outsider character in GDR film. The film introduces Sunny, an aspiring singer, as a non-conformist character after receiving a police complaint from her neighbours owing to her loud music and late nights entertaining men. Sunny acts like a ‘diva’, she is always wearing high heels and provocative clothing which has led Larson Powell to question whether Sunny’s aesthetic could be described as queer.[5] Sunny stands in stark contrast to Sonja’s character; she engages in one-night stands who she refuses to talk to the following morning. All three characters reveal the prevalence of sexual violence in the GDR as all three films either refer to the threat of rape or the crime takes place on screen suggesting a wider problem within socialist society. In encounters with sexual violence, Sunny refuses to be objectified revealing her agency, “if you want to hit me, you’ll have to beat me to death.” In further contrast to Sonja, Sunny’s accepting of Harry’s marriage proposal only comes after her failed solo career and attempted suicide. Sunny remains silent while Harry discusses the prospect of marriage revealing her bitter acceptance of societal norms.

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Source: Solo Sunny, Konrad Wolf, 1980. Image available via https://www.defa-stiftung.de/ 

Though Sunny’s character could be read as non-conformist therefore acting as a critique of socialist society, the film’s director, Konrad Wolf, explained Sunny alerted socialist society to the fact that it could not operate “…without the conscious, careful and patient fostering of the individual’s personality and his/her claim to self-fulfilment.”[6] DEFA studio director, Hans Dieter Mäde, insisted that the film’s less than perfect depiction of gender relations was only related to the “shady world of show business” and Sunny revealed socialist women’s position as “emancipated and self-confident.”[7] The film was extremely popular with East German women; writing to an East German newspaper one female reader described feeling inspired by Sunny and her “refusal to give in and her insistence on staying who she is.”[8] In this way the film can be read as offering East German women, and young people in general, the chance to explore their personalities and different life paths.

 

If you are interested in East German cinema, check out DEFA’s online film library: https://ecommerce.umass.edu/defa/

Several archival materials are also available online (in German): http://www.filmarchives-online.eu/partners/defa-stiftung

Additionally, many of DEFA’s films can be found with English subtitles here: https://www.kanopy.com/

Anna McEwan is a first year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, she is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Scottish Graduate School. Her research specifically considers gendered citizenship and the relationship between Communist regimes social welfare systems and women’s political loyalty to these regimes. 

 

 

[1]See Chapter 2: Andrea Rinke, Images of Women in East German Cinema: Socialist models, private dreamers and rebels, (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006).

[2] The Hubert Vater Brief: Vater, allegedly a chief mechanic in a car manufacturing combine, wrote a letter to Neues Deutschland complaining about the depiction of GDR society in film. He believed films should focus on the GDR’s successes for example, their housing programme. The letter, which was widely interpreted as written by Erich Honecker, resulted in film-makers often self-censoring their works. If they chose to experiment they could be stopped by bad reviews, personal rebukes and marginal distribution of their films.

[3] Andrea Rinke, Images of Women in East German Cinema, p. 130.

[4] Ibid, p. 139.

[5] Larson Powell, ‘Nostalgia as Reflexive Commodity Form: The Impossible Star’ in Kyle Frackman and Faye Stewart (eds), Gender and Sexuality in East German Film: Intimacy and Alienation, (New York: Camden House, 2018), p. 150.

[6] Andrea Rinke, Images of Women in East German Cinema, p. 185.

[7] Ibid, p. 198.

[8] Ibid, p. 202.