What is ‘feminism’?

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This is what you see when you Google the word ‘feminism’. As a place to start, it’s not bad. But there’s so much more to it than just this quick screenshot.

First, let’s unpack that dictionary definition a little. It’s a very thin definition based on a historically gender essentialist, Anglo-American perspective. “Advocacy of women’s rights” is a phrase rooted in first wave feminist narratives, “equality of the sexes” is often found in understandings of our humanity which reifies binary gender, and “women’s liberation” as a similar phrase invokes misogynistic views of feminism as simply bra burning misandry.

When it comes to how feminism is defined, that shit’s complicated.

Particularly in the US, feminism has been typically conceptualised as waves which swell and recede, a metaphor which implies periods of inactivity and ignores the complexities in feminist discussions (Rome, O’Donohoe and Dunnett, 2019). First wave feminism refers to campaigns for social change and women’s equality through the suffragette movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Second wave feminism originates in the 1960s, with the sexual liberation movements, equal pay lobbying and a rejection of the oppression of traditional gender roles. The third wave of feminism is attributed to the calls to make feminism more inclusive in the 1990s, centring the voices and perspectives of women of colour and queer people, in response to the critique that feminism had thus far supported white, heteronormative hegemony (Evans and Chamberlain, 2015).

Feminism in 2020 goes beyond just advocacy of women’s rights and takes a critical stance across our social world; inequality exists on multiple interrelated axes, and I’d argue that one of the key aspects of being feminist today is awareness and understanding of this point.

Of course, I would say that as I describe my feminism as intersectional. You probably have come across the term intersectionality – a metaphor coined by legal scholar Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989, it’s grown beyond its origins in critical race theory and Black feminist theorising. Understandings of intersectionality as a theoretical, analytical framework differ. Quite widely. Much of what is discussed as intersectionality is based less on deep readings of academic work as Crenshaw herself points out.  ‘I saw this word on Twitter and I was inspired/outraged’ (delete as appropriate depending on your political views) is probably more likely.

But this confused understanding of a scholarly concept gone mainstream is a wider problem for feminism. Or feminisms, as that should probably be (there are many!). In my own area in consumer research, ecofeminism, poststructuralist feminism, Black feminism and liberal feminism have all been used as frameworks to examine the role of gender in marketing. And that’s just from a quick search of articles in one particular philosophical paradigm within a discipline in the broad academic area of business.  Imagine how many applications and possibilities there are for a feminist lens in art, history, literature, politics, law…

My point here is not that academic concepts cannot grow beyond their roots, nor that mainstream public understanding of what we’re working on as researchers should not be one of our fundamental goals. What I’m trying to get across in this post is that it’s important to acknowledge how we come to define such concepts. How these concepts develop in our academic discussions affects how they are interpreted in a broader context – academic buzzwords picked up by mainstream media keen to increase their clicks, shares and ultimately, profits.

The roots of different kinds of feminism lie in addressing power imbalances and inequality. This means dismantling hierarchies of identity, tackling racism, classism, heteronormativity, exclusionary practices and structures in society. It’s not about victimhood, elevating minority groups above everyone else, political correctness.

It’s about advocacy of human rights on the ground of equality for all.

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

2020/21 Committee Update

Happy New Academic Year! First of all, we would like to give a warm welcome to new postgraduate gender-researchers to our network, whether you are starting a masters or a PhD. Connect with us – sign up to the newsletter, follow our social media, consider writing a blog for us or submit an abstract to our upcoming postgraduate conference!

As September marks the start of the new academic year, we have made some exciting changes to our committee. A few of our amazing committee members have chosen to stand down this year, so we have four wonderful new people joining us! We are so sad to see Emilia and Sophie go; it has been an absolute joy to have them for the last year and they have contributed so much to PGRNS. However, we are so happy to welcome Robyn, Carlotta, Karyn and Gina to the committee in addition to our continuing members Huzan, Anna V, Laura and Anna M. Here is an introduction to each of them and their postgrad research. 

Robyn Harris is currently doing a Masters in Gender Studies at Strathclyde University, after having graduated from the University of Glasgow in 2019 with a Joint Honours MA degree in Music and Spanish. As well as being a student, Robyn is a professional wedding harpist, violin player and Spanish tutor. She has spent 23 of her 24 years living in Glasgow, with the one spent in Madrid having set her down the academic path of women’s studies thanks to an inspiring Erasmus year. Most concerned with environmental and intersectional feminism along with feminist linguistics, Robyn is most happy when exploring the Scottish wilderness, reading women’s literature and performing on stage.

Gina Gwenffrewi is in the process of completing her PhD in Trans Studies/English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, with a focus on representations of trans women within neoliberalism. Previously, Gina worked in TESOL at the British Council, returning to the UK in 2015 to begin a new career pathway while coming out as trans. Apart from a general fascination with the work of trans artists, her current passions include reacquainting herself with Welsh-language literature, playing the bass guitar badly while jamming with her flatmates, and watching trans-vloggers on YouTube such as the spellbinding Contrapoints.

Karyn Mabon is a PhD candidate at the University of Strathclyde researching the impact of mental health on women who are experiencing community justice. Karyn is interested in creative research methods and plans to use these in her project. Karyn completed her Masters in Criminal Justice and Penal Change in 2015 after a year of travelling in Australia and New Zealand. Since graduating, Karyn has worked at a University and more recently in the community with justice involved women. As well as a keen interest in gender, equality and justice, Karyn volunteers for a justice related social enterprise. In her spare time Karyn is attempting to learn to crochet (poorly) and enjoys catching up with friends and exploring Scotland. Other interests include yoga, running and anything true crime related.

Carlotta Moro is a first-year PhD student in the Department of Italian at the University of St Andrews, she is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the SGSAH. Her research examines how Italian women writers appropriated the devotional culture fostered by the Counter Reformation to advance proto-feminist arguments, considering how their dialogue with Scriptures and the querelle des femmes can illuminate gender issues in early modern Europe. Carlotta holds an MLitt in Women, Writing and Gender and her interests include the history of Italian feminist thought, gender theory, Italian women writers and Elena Ferrante. When she is not in the library, Carlotta enjoys reading fiction, hiking and exploring new places.

September Newsletter

Hello everyone!

Who else can’t believe it’s September already? This is certainly one of the strangest starts to an academic year any of us have ever experienced, with most of our universities closed, teaching moved online and library access restricted. Still, while we have to follow social distancing guidelines it’s lovely to be able to go back to your favourite coffee shop to do some reading, meet friends in the park and grab a pint. We hope to be able to see some of you in person at some point this academic year, but we will continue to promote a sense of community virtually until we are allowed to do so. We are always interested in hearing how you are managing the COVID-19 academic landscape so feel free to get in touch with us on any of our social media channels. 

We are delighted to announce the new committee members who will be joining us this year; a big welcome to Robyn Harris, Carlotta Moro, Karyn Mabon and Gina Gwenffrewi. Thank you to everyone that applied, we were delighted to receive a lot of great applications. We are also saying goodbye to our PGRNS stars Emilia Belknap and Sophie Duncan-Shepherd who will continue to be involved in our network but no longer on our committee. We miss you both already! 

Upcoming Conferences

Gendering 2020: Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland (PGRNS) Conference

  • Date: TBD
  • Where: University of Glasgow
  • Abstracts due: On a rolling basis – These are very special circumstances and productivity is being redefined. If any of you are struggling to get down ideas for your research project, we hope you see this as an opportunity to facilitate progression in your research as opposed to a barrier. 
  • More information.

“At the Crossroads: Narratives of the Excluded” Conference

  • Date: September 24-25th, online only
  • Hosted by the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University
  • Abstract deadline: 20th August 2020
  • More information.

“Being Hospitable: Languages and Cultures Across Borders” 2021 MLA International Symposium

  • Date: 17-19th June 2021
  • Where: The University of Glasgow
  • Abstract deadline: 30th September 2020
  • More Information

European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG)

  • Date: 7-9 July, 2021
  • Where: The University of Ljubljana
  •  Abstract deadline: 2nd September 2020
  •  More information

Talking Bodies 

  • Date: 28th-31st July 2021
  • Where: University of Chester 
  • Abstracts deadline: January 2020
  • More information

Feminist Labour History at the ELHN-WORCK Conference

  • Date: 30th August- 3rd September 2021
  • Where: University of Vienna
  • Abstracts deadline: 15th September 
  • More information

GENDER ONLINE

** Online Resources, Seminars, Materials and Events **

Call for Contributions/Papers/More

  • En-Gender: Rolling CFP between 3,000-8,000 words on gender and religion, sex and sexuality, feminism and activism, motherhood and childcare. For more information email: engenderingthepast@gmail.com
  • Signs:  Special Issue: Rethinking “First Wave” Feminisms. More information 
  • Arkbound: CFP max 3,000 words on mental, emotional, physical and political experiences of being LGBTQ+. More information

Job and PhD Opportunities

  • SGSSS Internships: deadline 21st August more information here
  • Part time and full-time SGSSS Internship: deadline 26th August more information here
  • Research Associate in  front line responses to domestic abuse at the University of Glasgow: deadline 2nd September more information here
  • Head of Organisational Development and Evidence at Surviving Economic Abuse: deadline 7th September more information here 
  • Manager at Rape Crisis Scotland, Moray: deadline 7th September more information here

   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!

Best Wishes,

Emilia Belknap, Huzan Bharucha, Sophie Duncan-Shepherd, Anna McEwan, Laura Shaw and Anna-Viktoria Vittinghoff

PGRNS Organising Committee

A PhD is a journey. Gender can be too.

When I started my PhD research, I was acutely aware that, as a cisgender woman, I was an outsider to the trans community. Even though at the time I identified as bisexual, the lumping together of so many diverse identities in the LGBT+ acronym means that you can be both insider and outsider simultaneously.

Having read a fair bit before starting PhD, I was aware of how the trans community has very much been the subject of research; much that has been written in medical, psychiatric, legal and sociological journals in the past 50 or so years pathologises trans lives. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, trans people are often demonised when gender is the topic. This can take many forms, from simply misunderstanding how referring to “transgenders” can be dehumanising, to deliberately questioning the validity of gender diversity in the first place. Janice Raymond’s infamous text has a lot to answer for here, in my view.

With all of this and my eagerness to do my best to conduct feminist research in mind, I set out to speak to as many different trans folks as I could. What I hadn’t expected was how much these conversations would prompt me to reflect on my own life, feelings, and identity.

I always felt queer. When I was a kid, I knew I wasn’t the same as the other girls in my class. Sex education was no help; in 1997 you were either gay or straight, and if you were gay then you were on your own. Figure it out yourselves, Ls and Gs! I wasn’t gay enough to be gay nor straight enough to be straight, but I could ignore the parts that didn’t fit and get on with it. I married a man I met in high school, got my undergrad degree, got a job, a flat, had a few close friends, etc etc etc. It wasn’t until I found the tumblr community in 2013 that I realised that I could be bisexual, and that that was ok!

I mention this because gender and sexuality are so intimately linked. Having been through a questioning and discovering phase regarding my sexuality, I was somewhat caught off guard when I ended up doing the same for my gender! Thinking through some of the stories my participants shared with me, I began to see where my experiences lined up. Where my thoughts and feelings were so similar. Where I hadn’t realised there were more options, and that exploring those options wasn’t a bad thing.

Realising that I’m nonbinary took me longer. And it’s changed my outlook on sexuality, too. I would no longer say I’m bisexual because I don’t feel that fits me best anymore, but that’s the beauty of LGBT+ identity language – it’s super fluid and never static. Just because a particular label felt right at a particular time, doesn’t mean you have to stick with it permanently. Now, I feel more like a nonbinary lesbian than a bisexual cis woman. I’m part of the trans community because I choose to identify that way; not all enbies do. Trans is as diverse as the L, the G, the B, and any other queer, non-normative expression of self.

I’m sure I have more discovering to do as I progress through my research. Being able to openly say I am nonbinary is a huge privilege, and not one that is afforded to every trans person. I’m also privileged to be conducting PhD work in an area that is so personal to me, and I hope my journey will help others as much as they’ve helped me.

My PhD and my gender are queer, and my journey is not yet complete.

If you’re curious about gender diversity, or questioning your own gender identity, here’s some resources to help you explore: Everyday Feminism, The Trevor Project and Stonewall.

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

August Bulletin

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How is it August already? We hope that wherever you are – whether that’s enjoying some much needed annual leave, boosting up that word count, reading existing literature, or even just taking baby steps to put thoughts to paper – you’re doing okay and staying safe. 

Join Us! 

You might have heard that we are looking for extra muscle for the upcoming 2020-21 year! As we move into our 5th year we are looking for new Committee Members! If you think you’d be interested in gaining some leadership experience, organising a conference, and facilitating a platform for gender researchers to connect then drop us a line. There is more information on our blog here. The closing date for applications is 15th August 2020. 

Gendering 2020 Update

We are keeping track of guidelines and restrictions so we can make our postponed 4th annual conference Gendering 2020 as safe as possible. We were hoping to have more information regarding hosting conferences at The University of Glasgow and we are waiting to see if we can go ahead in Autumn 2020. Conferences occurring in-person provide long-lasting connections and supportive environments that we strive to support. We very much want to host an in-person conference opposed to a virtual event for participants to get a ‘true’ conference experience so we are still holding out for this option. 

We have been delighted with the interest we have received and have loved reading through the abstracts. We will do our best to update applicants at the beginning of September as soon as we know more. 

Until then, we continue to accept abstracts for the conference on a rolling basis.
Find our Call For Papers with more information on Gendering 2020 here 

What We’ve Been Up To Lately at PGRNS
Have you checked out our August Newsletter? Each month we give you a freshly squeezed rundown of upcoming gender-related events, jobs, workshops and more.

Ross Cameron shared a lovely blog with us, ‘Gendering Anglo-American Travel to the Balkans’ which discusses women’s travel writing in the Balkans at the turn of the twentieth century. 

Keep in touch with us! 

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Blog 

Take care, 

Emilia Belknap, Huzan Bharucha, Sophie Duncan-Shepherd, Anna McEwan, Laura Shaw and Anna-Viktoria Vittinghoff
PGRNS Organising Committee

August 2020 Newsletter

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Pexels.com

Hello everyone!

Happy (almost) August! As Scotland begins to open up more and more each day, we hope you all have the opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones and recharge your batteries as we continue to battle this pandemic. Universities are slowly starting to open their doors, allowing us access to our offices, study rooms, and libraries, which for many of us, is a matter of celebration. Despite this much-needed access to our academic resources that brings a sense of relief, it is also important to take time to look after our physical and mental health, go outside, see our friends and family, while being mindful of the restrictions still in place that are there for our own safety as well as the safety of others. Here at PGRNS, we have been doing our best to conduct virtual events and maintain a sense of community. If you have attended one of our digital events in the past, thank you! If you haven’t, we would love to see you in the future. If you like the idea of a virtual event but haven’t yet been tempted by ours, do drop us a line and we’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions.

In other big news, we are looking for new members to join our committee! As PGRNS has grown, we are attempting greater levels of engagement within the academic community without compromising on our research and other professional responsibilities. This is why we have decided to add a few new members to our committee, in order to maintain a better work-life balance, and give way to new ideas and welcome a new group of researchers into the fold. More information on the role of committee members can be found here. If you have any questions, please drop us a DM on Twitter or send us an email at pgrnscot@gmail.com.

 On to the main event…

   Upcoming Conferences

Gendering 2020: Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland (PGRNS) Conference

  • Date: TBD
  • Where: University of Glasgow
  • Abstracts due: On a rolling basis – These are very special circumstances and productivity is being redefined. If any of you are struggling to get down ideas for your research project, we hope you see this as an opportunity to facilitate progression in your research as opposed to a barrier. 
  • More information.

“At the Crossroads: Narratives of the Excluded” Conference

  • Date: September 24-25th, online only
  • Hosted by the Maria Curie-Sklodowska University
  • Deadline: 20th August, 2020
  • More information.

European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG)

  • Date: 7-9 July, 2021
  • Where: The University of Ljubljana
  •  Deadline: 2nd September, 2020
  •  More information

“Being Hospitable: Languages and Cultures Across Borders” 2021 MLA International Symposium

  • Date: 17-19th June 2021
  • Where: The University of Glasgow
  • Deadline: 30th September 2020
  • More Information

GENDER ONLINE

** Online Resources, Seminars, Materials and Events **

 Exploring COVID-19’s Intersectional Impact on Women and Girls Worldwide

  • Webinar Series organised by the Girl Up UN Campaign
  • Date: 26th July – 29th August 2020
  • More information

Feminist Reading Group

  • The Feminist Reading Group meets monthly online and is open to anyone engaged in feminist study or research at any level. If you’re interested in discovering, sharing and discussing feminist writing on a whole range of topics and from across genres and disciplines, we’re the perfect reading group for you! To find out more email rebecca.jones@strath.ac.uk. You can also find us on Twitter @FemReads.

 Glasgow Women’s Library Summer Programme

 Preparing for Research Fieldwork

  • Online course covering risk assessment, physical and mental wellbeing when conducting fieldwork.
  • More information

 Radical and Critical Social Work

  • Open-access reading list for social workers and researchers in the field
  • More information

 The International Encyclopaedia of Gender, Media, and Communication

  • Online resource with over 250 articles on a wide range of gender-focused topics
  • More information

  Hear Black Women’s Voices

  • Curated audio and video clips showcasing African-American women leaders
  • More information

Call for Contributions/Papers/More

Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland (Call for Papers and Blogs)

  • Deadline: rolling basis
  • Any topic related to gender-research
  • Email us at PGRNScot@gmail.com

PhD Women Scotland (Call for Blogs)

  • Deadline: rolling basis
  • Any topic on your experience of being a PhD researcher in Scotland.
  • Email: phdwomenscot@gmail.com
MeCCSA Networking Knowledge Special Issue
  • Climate, Creatures and COVID-19: Environment and Animals in 21st Century Media Discourse
  • Deadline: 1st September 2020
  • Abstracts are invited from postgraduate and ECRs for this special issue journal. Contributions which make use of feminist theory and methodologies are encouraged.
  • More information.

 En-gender (Call for Papers)

 Feminist Legal Studies 

  • Deadline: not specified
  • Reflections on COVID-19 in short, creative content pieces encompassing feminism, law and legal theory
  • More information

 International Feminist Journal of Politics

  • Deadline: September 14th, 2020
  • Call for Submissions to a themed Conversations Section on “Gendered Global Health in Times of COVID-19: questioning global hierarchies and inequalities”
  • More information

Alastair J. Durie Essay Prize

  •  Deadline: 30th January 2021
  • Postgraduate and early career researchers are encouraged to submit essays on any aspect of the economic, cultural, or social history of Scotland and the Scottish people.
  • More information

 

Job and PhD Opportunities

 Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Society of Authors)

  • Where: The University of Leeds, School of English
  • Full-time, fixed-term contract (48 months) from October 2020
  • Closing date: 16th August 2020 
  • More information

Funding Opportunities

Citizen Science Collaboration Grant

  •  UKRI Grant to support multidisciplinary research collaborations that spread citizen science methods into new fields of research and involve citizens to address societally-relevant challenges.
  • Deadline: 9th September, 2020
  •  More information

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!

 

Best Wishes,

Emilia Belknap, Huzan Bharucha, Sophie Duncan-Shepherd, Anna McEwan, Laura Shaw and Anna-Viktoria Vittinghoff

PGRNS Organising Committee

 

Call for New Committee Members 2020-21

PGRNS Committee Member

CALL FOR NEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS

The Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland 2020

As the PGRNS is moving into its 5th year we would like to invite new members to join the committee. We have been overwhelmed by the fascinating work being done by postgraduates in gender across Scotland and we continue to facilitate a platform for gender researchers to connect and exchange ideas across disciplines and institutions.

That’s why we need YOU to join the committee! We need some extra muscle to help move the network forward by helping us see our 4th annual conference, Gendering 2020 come to fruition. While we have received funding from various sponsors, we had to postpone Gendering 2020 to this upcoming fall due to COVID-19. Not only would new committee members gain conference organising experience but they would be able to help lead the network and develop new ideas and events.

Committee Member Responsibilities: 

  • Running the email on a weekly rotation
  • Running the social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) on a weekly rotation by posting relevant news, funding and job opportunities, CfPs and events to our followers
  • Organising relevant blog posts on a monthly rotation. This can also mean delegating the blog post to a friend or fellow academic who is interested in writing about gender
  • Writing the newsletter and bulletin on a monthly rotation
  • Organising a workshop and/or a conference

Being a committee member will provide you with crucial experience for your academic CV:

  • Running a research network, organising a workshop and/or a conference, managing social media accounts and running a blog

And just as important; it gives you a unique opportunity to meet some extraordinary PGR students across Scotland to network and to form research collaborations and friendships.

If you are interested please apply by emailing us at pgrnscot@gmail.com with: 

  • Your Name
  • Institution
  • Discipline/Area of study
  • A few lines about why you would like to join the committee

 

We are expecting new members to join the committee on the 1st of September with an introduction meeting in late August. We will be updating applicants on the outcome of their application late August.

Deadline for applications: 15th August 2020 

Gendering Anglo-American Travel to the Balkans

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When I began my PhD project last October I was intending on studying the representations of Islam found in British travel writing on the Balkans across a broad swathe of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Studies of the discourse of ‘balkanism’, building on the Balkan Peninsula’s post-Ottoman nationalist historiographies that erase Muslim histories, typically present the region as ‘on [the European] side of the fundamental division: white versus colored, Indo-European versus the rest’, ignoring the perceived contingency of the whiteness of Balkan Muslim communities.[1] Taking a diachronic approach, my project aimed to destabilise the concept of balkanism by examining how literary representations of Muslim communities in the Balkans challenge this hegemonic representational paradigm.

However, as I began to narrow down my base of primary sources I encountered a variety of travel books that have largely been ignored in studies of travel writing on the Balkans, namely those produced by Anglo-American women between the turn of the twentieth century and World War Two. These texts are a rich and diverse corpus of images of the Balkans and were written by women who travelled to the region in a variety of different capacities. Some, like Frances Hutchinson and Emilie Barrington, visited the Balkans primarily as wealthy tourists seeking to distance themselves from the democratised tourism of the Franco-Italian Riveria. Others, including Mabel St Clair Stobart, Olive Aldridge and Monica Stanley, went under the aegis of the Serbian Relief Fund during World War One using their activities to further the campaign for women’s suffrage in Britain. Maude Holbach spent her time touring the region writing works effusively praising the benevolence of Habsburg administration (allegedly her paymasters) while the better-known Edith Durham used the Balkans to cultivate her position as an ethnographer, political campaigner and explorer. In the interwar Rose Wilder Lane, supporter of the American libertarian movement, travelled to the Balkans to escape the worldwide ideological turmoil that ‘smothers the struggling individual’ while many others in this period simply sought a sojourn from the rush of modernity.[2]

Previous scholarship has either excluded works by these authors or has simply included them as second-tier texts in broader discourse analyses of balkanism. One of the reasons for this elision is that much like Edward Said’s ‘unified, intentional and irredeemably male’ orientalism,[3] balkanism has been presented as ‘singularly male’, both in the images of the region it constitutes and the (lack of) gender balance in balkanist writers.[4] This androcentric scholarship has focused primarily on adventurous men travelling to the ‘savage’ Balkans in order to prove their masculinity through daring exploits that reaffirm the superiority of their home culture and the need for Western European powers to maintain close supervision of the ‘chaotic’ and ‘backwards’ region.

Women’s travel texts have also been under examined because studies of balkanism examine representations of the region within the framing of colonial discourse. In effect, by foregrounding the colonial logic of balkanism, women travellers have been treated as of marginal importance for they have historically been viewed as marginal to conventionally masculine colonialism. Indeed, although coming under increased scrutiny, the typical view of colonial discourse sees Western women as objects of male protection (think of the stereotype of the sexually threatened memsahib) rather than as active agents of colonialism themselves. The parcelling off of women travel writers from colonial discourse was also furthered by the first-wave of feminist scholarship on women’s travel writing, popularised by the Virago Travellers series, that divorces their journeys abroad from the colonial context in which they took place.

A second-wave of feminist scholarship on travel writing has shown that women occupied a more complex position vis-à-vis colonialism. Most notably, Sara Mills illustrates that due to the countervailing influence exerted upon women’s texts by discourses of femininity, which designated certain kinds of behaviours and experiences as ‘feminine’, women were less able to adopt normatively masculine discourses of colonialism, such as orientalism or balkanism. For example, the discourse of philanthropy that developed in the mid-Victorian period foregrounds the essentialised ‘feminine’ virtues of care and nurture, which led some women travellers to express greater ‘concern’ towards colonised peoples. [5] This is not to say that women’s travel texts escaped the influence of colonialism or that philanthropy abroad was not intimately tied to imperial expansion and white supremacist ideology but, instead, it is to show that the countervailing influence of discourses of femininity sees women travellers negotiate colonial discourses in different ways to their male counterparts.

In this way, women’s travel texts on the Balkans appear less obviously balkanist and have been treated as marginal to studies of travel writing on the region. This is especially so as typically balkanist writers embody the stiff upper lipped adventuring hero in their narrative personas, which Mills finds ‘so immediately ‘masculine’ that women writers have difficulty adopting this role with ease’.[6] As a result, even better known women travellers to the Balkans such as Edith Durham have been treated as anomalies due to their apparently more sympathetic accounts of the region’s cultures. It should also be added that women travellers to the Balkans have been equally marginalised in studies on women’s travel writing in the colonial context as a result of the absence of a clear-cut colonial history in the peninsula.

The new focus of my project, then, examines how women travel writers negotiated and destabilised the colonial discourse of balkanism; how the texts they produced were central to recasting images of the Balkans in the Western imagination; the reasons they were attracted to the region; and the cultural and political factors at home and abroad that engendered changes in their representations of Balkan peoples and places. Methodologically it also breaks from past scholarship on travel writing on the Balkans and women’s travel writing in general. Both have tended to take a quantitative approach by examining as many texts as possible for fear that focusing on individual authors lacks theoretical sophistication and, particularly with studies of women’s travel writing, to signal a shift away from earlier scholarship that often focuses on the biographies of ‘exceptional women’. Instead, my project takes a qualitative approach by offering an in-depth analysis of individual authors and their texts in order to show the true heterogeneity of women’s travel writing on the Balkans. 

Ultimately, the main reason behind the reorientation of my research is that I hope it will go some way towards rectifying the neglected status of women travellers to the Balkans in the early twentieth century by recovering their texts and histories. At the moment, I am researching Frances Hutchinson, a wealthy Chicagoan who motor-toured the peninsula shortly before the Dual Monarchy’s 1908 annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Edith Durham, who is the subject of my recent article published in En-Gender! that discusses the problems of biographical scholarship on travel writing.

This blog was originally posted on En-Gender, written by Ross Cameron, an AHRC sponsored PhD researching Anglo-American women’s travel to the Balkans based at the University of Glasgow and the University of Strathclyde.

[1] Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 19.

[2] Rose Wilder Lane, The Peaks of Shala: being a record of certain wanderings among the hill tribes of Albania  (London: Chapman and Hall, 1922), 224.

[3] Reina Lewis, Gendering Orientalism: Race, Femininity and Representation (London: Routledge, 1996), 17.

[4] Todorova, 17.

[5] Sara Mills, Discourses of Difference: An Analysis of Women’s Travel Writing and Colonialism (London: Routledge, 1991), 96-97.

[6] Ibid, 78.

July Bulletin

wood light vacation picnic
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hello everyone and happy July! It seems very strange that we are already halfway through the year given the chaos of the last few months. Nevertheless, as restrictions ease all over Scotland, I am sure we all take solace in knowing that our caution and patience has paid off. We hope you are enjoying getting out a bit more, seeing your friends and family from a respectable distance, and taking advantage of the sunshine while we have it!

Following last month’s Gendering 2020 Quiz Night, our winner Jessica Albrecht will be taking over the PGRNS Twitter account to give you some excellent gender related content. Jessica is a research and teaching fellow at the University of Heidelberg, whose research interests include the comic studies, gender and religious history, and Victorian esotericism, amongst other things. She is also the editor of the wonderful interdisciplinary journal En-Gender! Be sure to keep a close eye on @PGRNScotland so you don’t miss it!

We also have a new blog coming up this month by Ross Cameron from the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde. Ross shares his experiences as someone who stumbled across women writers over the course of their research, and how that has shaped the direction his PhD has taken. Keep an eye out for Ross’ blog, which we shall be posting on 13th July.

Finally, to our surprise here at PGRNS, you guys aren’t as Zoom’ed out as we thought! We are currently in the middle of planning a virtual catch-up for everyone, that will take place at the end of the month. We will be putting out another poll to find out what day and time suits everyone best. Please do answer as we want to include as many of you as possible.

The call for papers for our Gendering Conference is still open as well. We have scrapped all deadlines and always happy to receive your abstracts. We want this conference to highlight ‘new’ perspectives on gender, and the Covid crisis has certainly brought to the forefront many of societies existing shortcomings when it comes to parenting, division of labour, and bias in medicine. We are also seeing how additional factors like race, class, sexuality and gender identity can exacerbate these problems, as those previously ignorant of these inequalities are seeing their effects first hand. At the same time, ‘new’ perspectives on gender might also mean rediscovering or relearning our understanding of historical challenges related to gender. We welcome researchers working on, but not limited to, queer theory, LGBT+ studies, transgender theory, transgender studies, linguistics and translation studies, and disability studies. Any questions or abstracts can be submitted to our email (pgrnscot@gmail.com) or you can send us a DM on Twitter.

Finally, we are always looking for submissions for our blog. This does not have to relate to your research directly; we are happy to receive blogs about gender in academia and/or the wider society in general. We also welcome interdisciplinary perspectives on gender! Do get in touch if you would be interested in writing a blog for us.

You can also check out our July newsletter here.

That’s all from us folks!

Take care and stay safe.

July 2020 Newsletter

 

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Hello everyone,

Happy Pride Month! With lockdown restrictions easing, we hope life is becoming a bit more enjoyable and less isolated. This month is a celebration of love, diversity and inclusivity, and on this note we continue to express our solidarity with protestors around the world who are risking their lives to stand up against police violence. Additionally, we stand (sometimes, albeit, virtually) hand in hand with those tearing down archaic and racist relics from the past.  We may be easing out of COVID-19, but the fight against racism and inequality is ongoing. We ALL have a duty, as academics, intersectional feminists and human beings to educate ourselves about what is going on and take an active stance against injustices. Last month’s newsletter featured a list of anti-racist resources and fundraising sites and we would prompt you again to look at these. 

We are beginning to plan our next virtual event and we’d love to know  what would interest you most, let us know here.

Keep safe out there!

 Upcoming Conferences 

 

  • Gendering 2020: Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland (PGRNS) Conference
  • Date: TBD
  • Where: University of Glasgow
  • Abstracts due: On a rolling basis – These are very special circumstances and productivity is being redefined. If any of you are struggling to get down ideas for your research project, we hope you see this as an opportunity to facilitate progression in your research as opposed to a barrier. 
  • More information.

 

 

  • European Conference on Politics and Gender (ECPG)
  • Date: 7-9th July, 2021
  • Where: University of Ljubljana, Slovenia 
  • Abstracts due: 2nd September, 2020
  • More information.

 

GENDER ONLINE

** Online Resources, Seminars, Materials and Events **We are always tweeting new events at our Twitter @PGRNScotland so be sure to follow us there to stay the most up to date with gender-related events! 

 

  • Glasgow Human Rights Network
  • Online workshop for all University of Glasgow PGRs working in the broad field of human rights 
  • Date: 30th July
  • More information.

 

 

  • Wikimedia uk and Protests & Suffragettes
  • Online workshop on how to add Suffragettes and Women Activists to Wikipedia 
  • Date: 4th July, 12pm 
  • More information

 

 

  • The  Hidden Hurt: The Courier 
  • Digital Archive on domestic abuse 
  • More information

 

 

  • Pride Inside
  • Online events, workshops, and virtual meet ups to celebrate pride month
  • Date: 27th June-10th July
  • More information

 

Call for Contributions/Papers/More

 

  • Postgraduate Gender Research Network of Scotland (Call for Papers and Blogs)
  • Deadline: rolling basis
  • Any topic related to gender-research
  • Email us at PGRNScot@gmail.com

 

 

 

  • PhD Women Scotland (Call for Blogs)
  • Deadline: rolling basis
  • Any topic on your experience of being a PhD researcher in Scotland.
  • Email: phdwomenscot@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

  • Feminist Legal Studies 
  • Deadline: not specified
  • Reflections on COVID-19 in short, creative content pieces encompassing feminism, law and legal theory
  • More information

 

 

Job and PhD Opportunities

 

  • Scottish Women’s Rights Centre
  • Full-time Advocacy Worker
  • Closing date: 8th July 
  • More information

 

 

  • Research assistant
  • Remotely based research assistant on the ESRC funded project, ‘Gendering the UK’s Social Policy Response to the COVID-19 Crisis
  • Closing date: not specified
  • More information

 

  • Editorial Fellowship at History Workshop Online
  • Paid fellowship for early career researchers
  • Closing date: 27th July
  • More information

 

 

To Get Involved and Stay in Touch with PGRNS

 

  • 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!

 

Best Wishes,

Emilia Belknap, Huzan Bharucha, Sophie Duncan-Shepherd, Anna McEwan, Laura Shaw and Anna-Viktoria Vittinghoff

PGRNS Organising Committee