RINGS CONFERENCE The geopolitics of gender studies

Call for papers:

The geopolitics of gender studies

RINGS small conference and General Assembly 2016

Cape Town, South Africa, 16-18 November 2016

This is a closed call for RINGS members only. However member organizations are encouraged to invite others to become a new RINGS member with particular emphasis on an attempt to strengthen the participation of those from global Southern countries.

RINGS, the International Research Association of Institutions of Advanced

Gender Studies is a global association of centres of advanced gender studies.

RINGS was inaugurated in October 2014 at Örebro University, Sweden with attendance by representatives of 21 centres from 14 countries, and apologies from 16 further institutions. The participating centres span Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, Europe and North America. In November 2015 the national assembly meeting and a conference focusing on gender studies in the neoliberal university was held in Prague. In 2016 RINGS annual meeting and a conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa. RINGS is keen to involve more research centres and units, especially those outside the global North.

Goals of the 2016 conference:

1) To share research that reflects on the geopolitical shape of feminist scholarship and pedagogical practices in academia across/between/trans national contexts;

2) To share research within RINGS through the framework of thinking about gender and gender scholarship in global geopolitical contexts towards generating constructive international/transnational links and facilitating possible scholarly collaboration.

3) To critically assess the limitations to global scholarly collaboration posed by geopolitical location and related inequalities

Feminist scholarship has never been a seamless unitary body of knowledge production, and has long approached gender through an intersectional lens, acknowledging that both discursive and material frameworks of patriarchal power and gender inequality cannot ever be viewed outside of multiple other differences and inequalities. Yet differences that also speak to historical and contemporary inequalities of material and knowledge resources shape the frameworks of our daily scholarship, including teaching and research, in our different centres of feminist scholarship located in hugely diverse political, socio-economic and material contexts within larger contexts of global Northern and Southern differences. The dominance and privileging of Northern and Western scholarship in globalized notions of legitimate and valued knowledge pervades feminist scholarship as well. The histories of knowledge have also seen large scale practices of

global Southern contexts serving as a ‘laboratory’ for the North, together with ‘academic tourism’ legitimated by narratives of beneficence, often serving primarily to bolster global Northern careers, while also rationalizing global ‘othering’ practices. In the 1990s, we witnessed the same approach of the countries of the “West” to the freshly post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Despite large geopolitical changes, such as the enlargement of the European Union, the inequalities survive although they too have undergone a “transformation”. Feminist scholarship or scholarship on gender has not been immune from reproducing certain patronizing and exploitative practices within these geopolitical relations of knowledge production. Increased globalization, global frameworks of collaborative research, and a rhetoric of acknowledgement of the marginality of global Southern challenges and knowledge, have seen an increase of research collaboration across global Northern and Southern national contexts, which raises further challenge in working for critical gender scholars in working together across differences. Similarly, there have recently been moves towards reconceptualising the “Cold War discourse” and its repercussions, frequently on the part of those, whose knowledge it marginalizes.

The second RINGS conference aims to provide the space to theorise and share research and practices that speak to these complex geopolitics of women’s and gender studies scholarship in the academy, and positively construct resistant international/transnational engagements and alternatives.

The following key themes are suggested, while we encourage you to present on any other area you deem relevant to the conference focus:

  • Southern theory/postcolonial feminist scholarship and implications for feminist studies and collaborative initiatives such as RINGS; the continued dominance and privileging of global northern and western thinking in gender studies and the academy more broadly and the impact of widening global inequalities on our scholarship and possibilities for collaboration and shifting margins to centre;
  • The meaning of limitations of working together across differences for gender studies as a discpline and potential of projects such transversal dialogues;
  • Global perspectives on critical and feminist pedagogies in Higher Education, including documenting and analysing our pedagogies in supervision and teaching in advanced gender studies;
  • The relationship between feminist scholarship and feminist politics, including the complexity of collaborative and intersectional work between feminist practices located in the differing terrains of academic/scholarly contexts, policy and organisational frameworks, and activist, community-based feminist spaces.
  • Impacts of new trends and emerging feminisms, including the affective turn, posthumanism and new feminist materialisms, in contemporary feminist scholarship and gender studies in the academy;
  • The usefulness of terminologies such as ‘intersectionality’ as a conceptual tool in international/transnational settings;
  • The meaning and creation of ‘resistance’: how can we engage in resistance without falling into negativity?
  • Feminist discourse in the reproduction of racist, classist practices: postcolonial feminist perspectives on northern and southern relations and discourses, including analyses of homonationalism, othering of southern and ‘ethnic’/migrant masculinities/gender inequalities, etc.
  • Repercussions of relying on the North/South divide for explaining geopolitical differences in feminist thinking as such;
  • Terminology matters: East/West, South/North, core/semi-periphery/periphery, Two Thirds/One Third Worlds, First World/Second World/Third World – what gets silenced/lost through the use of these terms? How does feminist scholarship navigate these divides?
  • What role does language play in the perpetuation of geopolitical difference?
  • Global publishing practices – a way to go public open to all?
  • Multiculturalism/diversity in/and gender studies within the context of postcolonial and transnational paradigms of thinking about society, politics and education.


Technical information:

Host organization: Women’s and Gender Studies, Faculty of Arts, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa will host the event in collaboration with other UWC units/colleagues, UNISA (Deirdre Byrne, Head of Institute for Gender Studies andKopano Ratele, Professor, UNISA/MRC), and in collaboration with feminist scholars at two other Western Cape Universities, SU (Stellenbosch University) and UCT (University of Cape Town).

Venue: To be confirmed

Fee: There is no registration fee; if you plan to attend the conference dinner, the cost will be R250.

Accommodation and travel costs: Accommodation and travel costs are to be covered by participants. The hosts may be able to assist with accommodation if requested and will try to arrange for reduced prices.

Deadline for abstract submission and registration: Abstracts of maximum 500 words may be submitted before or on 15 May 2016 at http://goo.gl/kdqioz.

Conference committee:

Chris Beasley; Deirdre Byrne; Kateřina Cidlinská; Lindsay Clowes; Jeff Hearn; Richard Howson; Kopano Ratele; Tammy Shefer; and Kathrin Thiele.

Contact for enquiries: Tammy Shefer, tshefer@uwc.ac.za; tshefer@icon.co.za or Kateřina Cidlinská, katerina.cidlinska@soc.cas.cz.