What It’s Like Being a RINGS Intern During Covid-19

Bethany Gum has finished a ten week online internship with RINGS under the supervision of co-chair, Deevia Bhana, and in close contact with Jeff Hearn and Tamara Shefer. She is completing a master’s degree in Gender Studies at Utrecht University with a focus on postcolonial theory and decolonial thought and will graduate in summer of 2021.

During Bethany’s time as an intern, she had four primary tasks including her own research project. The first was to continue updating RINGS’ contact form online and collecting member institution summaries. This task was a continuation of RINGS’ intern in 2020, Özden Öz, who spent considerable time setting up a shared Google Drive, organising the online archive and contacting member institutions for their summaries. A compiled list of member institution summaries can be found under ‘Members’ of the RINGS website. The second task was for Bethany to liaise with the RINGS working group focused on pooling together teaching resources in a shared initiative. The aim of this initiative is to enrich teaching content from international perspectives and to facilitate access to shared resources for teaching. This project remains ongoing. Third, Bethany began working on possible funding applications and spent time reading about Özden’s and previous workgroup activities that researched funding options for RINGS. A call for applications from the EU on ‘Feminisms and the New Age of Democracy’ was released in March 2021 and with it, the need for a team of more experienced researchers from one institution prevailed. Bethany did, however, spend time in the preliminary stages of the application call speaking with the EU Commission and their Research Enquiry Service to ascertain further details.

The fourth task was Bethany’s own short research project to be completed as a part of her internship requirements. Inspired by the call for papers for the proposed conference in Durban 2020 (postponed because of coronavirus), Bethany based her research on decolonising the university. She interviewed four academics in higher education institutions from varying geopolitical locations, each with a feminist lens that supported the decolonial call. The scholars had diverse fields of expertise and contextualised ‘decolonial’ within their own politics of location. What was most notable for Bethany after conducting the interviews was how the term ‘decolonial’ changed meaning depending on where it was being used. She asked: if decolonial is a term that needs to be situated and understood within it’s localised context, what does it mean for an international association like RINGS to work toward being decolonial? To read more about Bethany’s research project, her article is attached below. Thank you to all the interview participants for sharing their time and invaluable input.

As the internship progressed, other tasks became focal points for Bethany. The largest task in terms of time and research was writing the story of RINGS by collaborating with RINGS members. The story can be read on the website under the ‘About’ section. By communicating with RINGS members that were involved in the official founding of RINGS in 2011, reading conference agendas and collecting information from General Assembly Minutes, Bethany collated the first document outlining RINGS’ background.

For prospective interns, Bethany says:

“Completing an internship with RINGS has been a fantastic opportunity to network within gender studies and feminist reseach worldwide. I have loved being able to map the field, learn about the many research areas of academics globally and it has been an invaluable learning experience. The individuals working at RINGS are extremely dedicated, endlessly supportive and highly knowledgeable, I would absolutely recommend an internship at RINGS to anyone interested in feminist and gender studies research.”