GFGRG sponsored posts at the RGS-IBG 2019

The GFGRG is proud to be involved with the RGS-IBG annual conference 2019. https://www.rgs.org/research/annual-international-conference/ 

The conference will take place at the RGS-IBG in London from 28-30th August 2019.

The GFGRG are proudly sponsoring 12 sessions which cover a range of topics including family, race and nation, geographies of trouble and hope, hydrofeminism, migration, fertility, reproduction and family planning, and sexuality and gender identity. We will also be celebrating the contributions of renowned feminist geographers Linda McDowell and Ron Martin. for further information on the sessions being sponsored please visit http://conference.rgs.org/Conference/Sessions/SearchResults.aspx?conference=AC2019&rg=GFGRG

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GFGRG committee posts up for renewal

We have a number of Committee roles up for renewal (see terms of service below).

  1. Dissertation prize coordinator (2019 – 2022) (you would become part of a team of 3)

The dissertation coordinator is responsible for advertising the undergraduate dissertation competition in July each year. They will receive nominations directly and then liaise with other committee members to arrange for the reading, evaluation and ranking of dissertations before nominating a short list for the Chair to judge.

  • 2 postgrad members (2019 – 2020)

PG members will jointly organise the RGS sessions. PG members will encourage and support PG involvement with the group and perhaps identify / organise events and activities that would be useful to PGs.

  • 3 ordinary members (2019 – 2022)

Ordinary members will be expected to attend the AGM (in person if possible) and committee meetings (by skype), propose, attend and sometimes be involved in the organisation of GFGRG events, publicise the work of the group to others. 

  • Social media coordinator (2019-2022)

We are looking for a social media coordinator to support the role of the web office in promoting GFGRG news, related events, related research, and keep up to date with current affairs on the GFGRG’s social media pages.

If you are interested in taking on any of these roles please email expressions of interest to Rosie Cox and Jo Waters. Each post will be voted on by existing committee members at the GFGRG AGM at the RGS-IBG (details to follow). You do not necessarily need to attend the AGM in person to be considered for one of the roles.

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GFGRG 2017-2018 Dissertation prize

We are delighted to announce the winners of the GFGRG 2017-2018 dissertation prize

1st prize: Jessica Pandian (LSE) ‘Colombian Women in London: Shaping Collective Memory through Art in the Post-Conflict Era’. 

 joint 2nd prize: Isabelle Green (University of Oxford) ‘The Gendered Geographies of Rebuilding: Worlding Women’s Experiences of Post-Katrina New Orleans.’ 

Joint 2nd prize. Charlotte Lindley (University of Bangor). “How is the changing status of women altering the culture and heritage of brass bands?”. 

Here you will find summaries of all 3 fantastic projects.

Colombian Women in London. Shaping Collective Memory through Art in the Post-Conflict Era. By Jessica Pandian

How is the Changing Status of Women Altering the Culture and Heritage of Brass Bands. By Charlotte Lindley

The Gendered Geographies of Rebuilding. Worlding Women’s Experiences of Post-Katrina New Orleans. By Isabelle Green.

Congratulations to our winners and many thanks to all for submitting such interesting and varied dissertations for us all to read.

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Vacancies on the GFGRG committee

We currently have a number of opportunities to join the GFGRG committee.  Applications are open for Chair, Web Coordinator and a Postgraduate Representative. These vacancies will be filled via a vote at our forthcoming AGM, which will be held at the RGS-IBG event in Cardiff this year. See: https://www.rgs.org/research/annual-international-conference/
 
The AGM is on WEDNESDAY 29th August at 13.10 – 14.45 in the Main Building, Wallace Lecture Theatre.  
 
More details on the roles:
 
Chair (for 3 years): has oversight of everything!

Web-coordinator (1): This individual will have responsibility for: managing and moderating communications on behalf of the Research Group, across a variety of media (including, but not limited to, the group’s website, Twitter account, any manual mailing lists or automated list-servers and newsletters).
 
Postgraduate members (1): We are looking for one postgraduate to be on our committee to represent postgraduate needs and concerns, to initiate GFGRG events for postgraduates, be an active member of our committee (see above) and to also organise and lead the GFGRG postgraduate sessions at the annual RGS-IBG conference. Preference may be given to RGS-IBG members. This post is for one year.
  
Expressions of interest in the above posts can be given up until the start of the AGM either in person or by email to myself (johanna.waters@ucl.ac.uk) and/or to our Chair, Katherine Brickell (katherine.brickell@rhul.ac.uk). If you are not able to attend our AGM but you would like to stand for one of the above posts, please email us a short paragraph outlining which position you are interested in and what experience/skills you have that you think would be useful for the post. 

 

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Women and resistance in Kashmir. By Yogesh Mishra.

While looking for some material on women and resistance in the context of Kashmir conflict, I came across a ‘call for resistance poetry’ celebrating Kashmiri Women’s Resistance day. This blog on Kashmir Lit says “23rd February is observed as Kashmiri Women’s Resistance Day. The day commemorates the survivors of the mass rape and torture in the two villages of Kunan and Poshpora in Kashmir. The survivors from Kunan and Poshpora have become an iconic symbols of Kashmir’s struggle against the Indian rule”.

(Source: http://www.kashmirlit.org/2018-annual-kashmiri-womens-resistance-day/)

There is no other way of putting it, the Kashmir conflict is a lived reality, an everyday struggle embedded in the lives of those thousands of men, women, and children, who have been living in one of the most contested zones in the world. A constant struggle and resistance between the state and Kashmiris have marked this place with vagaries of human nature; a landscape dotted with army bunkers, barricades, security checkpoints and several other apparatuses of surveillance and control.

The armed insurgency in this region broke out in 1989. Although women were not a part of this armed insurgency, they were at the forefront supporting the militants. For example, writing about Kashmiri women’s expressions of resistance situated in the realm of the everyday, Rita Manchanda (2001) notes that women will sing songs of celebration, intertwining couplets in praise of local mujahideen (militants)….their voices excitedly shouting “oh, you holy fighters, rise and awake! The time of your martyrdom has come” (p. 50-51).

Kashmiri women were always a part of the movement even before 1989. Way back in 1947, when Kashmir was under attack by Pashtuns from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, women of the valley participated in the war against the tribesmen. During this time, under the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, Women’s Self-Defence Corps (WSDC), a women’s defense corps was formed. This volunteer force of women was planned to train women for self- defense and to resist invaders. Zooni Gujjri a milkmaid, became famous as a WSDC volunteer, dressed in traditional Kashmiri clothes and carrying a gun around her shoulders; she symbolized the WDSC (Khan, 2010).

(Source: http://www.andrewwhitehead.net/kashmir-47-images.html)

The above pamphlet portrays a picture where Zooni is carrying a rifle as a part of women’s militia. Although a lot has changed since then in the socio-cultural and political landscape of Kashmir, women are still an integral part of the resistance movement and have been participating in different ways. For example, Parveena Ahanger, founder of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP), have been holding the sit-in protests for the last 24 years. The Indian Armed forces picked up Parveena Ahanger’s son in 1990, never to be returned to his family. Fighting against such injustice, she has brought people together to seek justice – asking questions about the whereabouts of the victims of enforced disappearance.

In 2017, the protest movement witnessed a new turn where college girls were witnessed clashing with police and throwing stones at security personnel. The following picture captures one such moment of strength and resistance by the women in the valley. These young women were called as the new face of protests.

(Source: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/students-clash-with-security-forces-protests-rock-srinagar-again/story-ysHZjiNQvUySi9ZdOoMilL.html)

Commenting on the changing scenario, Toufiq Rashid, a journalist form Srinagar, writes: “Instead of running for cover, they picked up stones and targeted the police. Every shell was countered with a scream for azadi (freedom). This was unprecedented. Like their teenaged male counterparts, these girls too seemed to not fear death”.

In the changing landscape of the valley and in the wake of new intifada (some call it ‘radicalization of the populace’) in Kashmir, I see an emerging need to extend the analysis and diverting energies towards accounting for the perspectives of women who participate in anti-state armed movements for self-determination. Scholars like Parashar, Shekhawat, Kazi who focus upon the everyday realities, discuss the invisibility of women in Kashmir challenging the militarised masculinities and contesting the binaries like “agency/victimhood, speech/silence” (Parashar, 2014). Perhaps by focusing on the narratives of lived realities, we can go beyond the already fixed narratives, binaries and can innovate new methodological openings to challenge women’s role as survivors, marginalized, and relegated to spaces of victimhood.

References:

Kazi, S. (2009). Between democracy & nation: gender and militarisation in Kashmir. Women Unlimited.

Khan, N. A. (2010). Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Manchanda, R. (Ed.). (2001). Women, war and peace in South Asia: Beyond victimhood to agency. New Delhi: Sage.

Parashar, S. (2014). Women and militant wars: The politics of injury. Routledge.

Rashid, T. (2016). Then and now: When girls in Kashmir took to Srinagar’s Lal Chowk to protest. Retrieved from http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/then-and-now-when-girls-in-kashmir-took-to-srinagar-s-lal-chowk-to-protest/story-rFDG5Pj00XJpDbxOi8XtPM.html

Shekhawat, S. (2014). Gender, Conflict and Peace in Kashmir. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Yogesh Mishra is a Post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Delhi (India). His doctoral research entitled ‘Beautiful Prison: Geopolitics of everyday life in Kashmir’ focused on the mundane, prosaic, and ordinary aspects of daily life to highlight the constant struggle and negotiation hidden beneath the apparent routine in a conflict zone. His research interests include feminist political geography, sociology of everyday life, and feminist research methods. Yogesh’s postdoctoral research focuses on the representation of marginal groups in a wider context of Indian civil society organizations around women’s rights.

Contact: anhalak@gmail.com

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GFGRG Undergraduate Dissertation Prize – Entries now open

The competition is now open and accepting entries for the best dissertation on any issue relating to geographies and gender. The dissertations should usually be 10,000 words or more and should be submitted as a PDF file, along with a copy of the appropriate departmental dissertation regulations and a (post-September) contact address for the student to: elg26@aber.ac.uk.

For any further details or questions please contact Dr Elizabeth Gagen, Aberystwyth University, elg26@aber.ac.uk

Please note that departments may not submit more than one entry.

PRIZES: 1st prize – £60; 2nd prize – £30; 3rd prize – £20.

Deadline: Friday July 6th 2018 

For last year’s winners:

The gendered working culture of Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry: A study of women’s experiences of the ‘downturn’. By Georgia Smith

A Bosnian girl: Understanding the female gender and nationality, in post-conflict, post-socialist Sarajevo. By Rebecca Collinson

Women’s empowerment, development discourse and shifting subjectivities: Everyday performances of gender in rural Uganda. By Caragh Bennet.

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Women’s empowerment, development discourse and shifting subjectivities: Everyday performances of gender in rural Uganda. By Caragh Bennet.

Caragh Bennet is the third-prize winner of the GFGRG 2016-17 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize.

At the first world conference on “Women in Development” in Mexico, 1975, the UN declared women to be the ‘so-far unexploited resource for greater efficiency in development’ (Jackson 1992:89 in Aguinaga et al 2013). Women have increasingly been conceptualised as agents of transformation in development for example, Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ (UN 2015). Women’s empowerment has become a widely used concept and has thus been interrogated for the ways it positions women as subjects of a wider discourse. We therefore can utilise such women’s empowerment programmes as a focal point through which to view an Intersection in literature of women’s empowerment, post-colonial feminism and rural economic development. According to many prominent post-colonial scholars, women’s empowerment projects enforce problematic gender production or lead women to bear a burden of development, thus reducing the agency of identity performance in such settings. Women’s empowerment programmes may unhelpfully reinforce gender inequalities and power hierarchies through the way women are depicted both on the one hand as agents of change, or on the other, as vulnerable objects of aid.

In spite of this critique, it is still possible to distinguish the forms of programmes having this impact in order to avoid sweeping generalisations. Through the analysis of a specific women’s empowerment programme working in rural Uganda, my dissertation studied how it was possible for these problematic implications to be avoided and taken into consideration, and for the agency of women to be increased and prioritised in the model of such programmes.

Tribe + Glory is a women’s empowerment initiative currently working in the village of Kamuli, Eastern Uganda. Tribe + Glory represents a form of women’s empowerment model whereby entrepreneurship is facilitated without the more common use of loans or handouts or other financial infrastructure. Instead, Tribe + Glory chooses to use employment as capital accumulation. Female entrepreneurs are interviewed and accepted onto the programme on the basis of having a viable business idea and once admitted onto the programme, a market based approach is utilised, providing members with a full-time job in an artisan workshop. Salaries are then paid to the women on a monthly basis, where 60% of the salary is put straight into savings and 40% of the salary allows the individual to live above the poverty line. Each programme member stays in full time employment until the capital built up in savings is sufficient in order to start their business. Alongside employment, entrepreneurship skills are taught and business mentorship is provided.

Through this medium, the Tribe + Glory model aims to provide a unique access to capital for some of the poorest yet most innovative women in rural communities. Even when financial services are present, female uneducated entrepreneurs face a particularly strong barrier to accessing these services due to lack of knowledge and lack of accessibility from the service provider. Even microloans have been known to be too complicated for the rural poor to usefully access. Furthermore, the problems associated with loans causing risk to women through being in debt have been well documented in the work of Karim (2011). Women may be rendered vulnerable in carrying debt, and even without the risk of loan sharks, insufficient knowledge on how to save to pay back the debt may be an issue.

Employment and savings based capital accumulation therefore can provide an interesting alternative for entrepreneurial individuals. Employment provided by Tribe + Glory is within a safe working environment, and with mentorship and personal financial advice, monthly salaries are managed efficiently and productively. Moreover, the post-colonially problematic implications of hand-outs are avoided through the opportunity for women to work for their wage. Tribe + Glory looks to increase the agency of programme members by requiring them to work to high standards of employment and to become familiar with workplace disciplines and protocols. Employment reduces the sense of dependency that women may experience from grant giving organisations as they are offering a valuable skill to the organisation. This promotes self esteem and the ability to contribute or even lead household finance discussions.

Employment over a longer time frame is also effective due to the education levels many of the programme members. Many may have experienced little to no formal education and the period of time spent on the programme enables an opportunity for literacy training, as well as learning commitment and leadership abilities. According to Guma (2015), many women suffer from the primary barrier of self-confidence and a fear of ‘overstepping the mark’ in Uganda, due to existing cultural social expectations of gender performances. Tribe + Glory is geared towards encouraging women to take ownership and leadership over their personal finances, and eventual enterprise.

Through a post-colonial awareness of the problems of female empowerment programmes, Tribe + Glory has sought to create an alternative solution and answer to many of the well documented issues. Tribe + Glory seeks to actively increase the agency of the women they work with through employment rather than loans or handouts. Arguably, this form of programme, if replicated, could lead to an increase in successful female entrepreneurship in rural markets as well as reducing rural poverty.

References:

Aguinaga, M. et al 2013. Beyond Development. Alternative Visions from Latin America. Quito: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.

Guma, K. 2015. Business in the urban informal economy: barriers to women’s entrepreneurship in Uganda. Journal of African Business, 16 (3), p. 305-321.

Mohanty, C. 1988. ‘Under western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses’, Boundary 2, 2(3) p. 333–358.

U.N. 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Walby, S. 2005. Gender mainstreaming: Productive tensions in theory and practice. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 12(3) p. 321–343.

Contact: caraghbennet@gmail.com

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Working 9 to 5: Challenging the neoliberal (academic) self. By Eleanor Wilkinson

I walk down the corridor of my department and find that our recently repainted office doors have each been adorned with a pin-board. As I continue, I observe how these new boards are being used. One door is taken up by the cover of someone’s recent monograph, another is crammed with countless overlapping front pages of journal articles, making them impossible to read, but we get the picture, this person is productive. Some others contain the front pages of the occupant’s latest publications, whilst a handful display teaching awards. I get back to my office and think about what I can put on my door. I don’t have a new publication; my last one was years ago. I don’t even have anything in the pipeline, nothing under review. In fact it’s been well over a year since I’ve written anything at all. There are a couple of revise and resubmits that I’ve left for months and months, unable to respond, tucked away in a ‘publications’ folder that I don’t want to open, that I can’t open. Writing seems like an insurmountable task, so I’ve done nothing. Nothing is all I can seem to do. The times when I’ve tried to sit down and write I just stare at the screen, the process has felt just too overwhelming. No new publications, nothing to see. What can I put on my office door then? Leaving it empty will surely just highlight what I don’t want other people to know: that I’m an academic failure in comparison to my colleagues.

In the end I opt to decorate my door with a single postcard: ‘Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens’ by the artist Nathan Coley. Well, if I’m going to be unproductive I might as well make a statement. Despite publishing since, the postcard remains the only thing on my office door. Nothing ever happens, and the more I think about it, the more heavenly this proposition becomes.

Photo: Coley, 2008

In this post, I want to reflect upon what these everyday practices of academic display might signify. What could something as seemingly trivial as a pin-board tell us about wider workplace cultures? Over the years, and most recently whilst working on our Athena SWAN[i] submission, I’ve been thinking a lot about workplace culture, especially the microclimates that we all create through our quotidian practices. In particular, I’m interested in the how our everyday acts may serve to uphold a culture of competition, shame and anxiety. Think, for example, of the ways in which over-work has become normalized, even upheld as the sign of a truly committed academic who ‘loves’ their work. And how these messages are then passed on to postgraduate students and early career researchers. In what ways then, have we internalized the logic of the marketized neoliberal university? At times, might we be our own worst enemies? At a conference a few years back I bumped into an acquaintance who I hadn’t seen for almost a year. We were on our way out of a busy session, and so I asked, “what are you doing now?” Without hesitation, they entered into a lengthy monologue about their grants and upcoming publications. By this point I felt unable to clarify that what I actually meant was “what are you doing now, as in right now, are you free, shall we go get coffee?” Though perhaps this was a welcome misunderstanding, as by this point I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drink coffee with this person at all.

What interests me then, is the issue of how we perform our academic selves, and how we might be able to perform them differently. An emerging body of work, particularly amongst feminist scholars, has begun to think about how we might be able to create more caring and nurturing workplaces, examining how a feminist ethics of care might disrupt the drives for ruthless self-sufficiency, competition, over-work and fatigue (Mountz et al, 2015; see also Harriet Hawkins’ blogpost on academic caring as a feminist practice). Such work has argued for the importance of ‘slow scholarship’, slowing down, taking time for thinking, finding connections, caring for ourselves and for each other. The issue of challenging and changing workplace cultures has been integral to many of the conversations we have had whilst taking part in the recent wave of strike action that took place across UK Universities. The strike has made many of us rethink what academia is for, and has reminded us of the importance of connection, of finding solidarity across institutions rather than competition. Currently those taking industrial action are working to contract as part of an action short of strike, this means our working day is 9-5, including taking time out for a lunch break. We are slowing down. For some though, this has been a difficult shift to make, there’s an anxious feeling of somehow missing out, falling behind, as one colleague half-jokingly commented, “while I’ve spent the past 4 weeks on the picket line, all those who aren’t striking have probably polished off another couple of 4 star REF[ii] publications”. The constant pressure to produce and perform can be difficult to escape, even for those in secure academic posts. For those on precarious short-term contracts, such a slowing down may even be an impossibility.  Yet it seems vital that we can begin to break this culture of over-work, of over-production, of competition, of self-promotion, and the shame and anxiety that such a culture creates. Not least, because this is a system where those who have other commitments, caring roles, disabilities, chronic illnesses, will never be able to compete on the terms of a masculinist, long-hours, ‘breadwinner’ model. Discussions that have taken place on the picket lines have led to important critical questioning around the toxic yardsticks by which our academic ‘success’ is continuously measured, via frameworks such as REF and TEF[iii]. To mock the absurdity of this all-encompassing audit culture we even developed our own SEF (Strike Excellence Framework) in order to compete for the title of most excellent picket line.

Photo: SEF Gold for the University of Newcastle

Yet to call out the these systems of measurement as arbitrary and destructive is just one step, a much harder part is working out how many of us have also become complicit, how we have internalized the logics of the neoliberal academy.  The desire for ‘excellence’ is rarely just driven by an external force. Management provide us with office pin-boards, a space on which we could display anything, poems, art-work, critical comments on the state of higher education, but instead, many of us decide to use this space for self-promotion.[iv] What then, might it mean to resist these everyday displays of complicity? This is not to say, of course, that academics shouldn’t share their work, or engage in conversations about research. What I’m arguing is in fact quite the opposite, a workplace culture where we talk about ideas, writing, projects— without the need to mention funding, places of publication, metrics. Conversations that foster connection rather than competition.

Some may argue however, that this is simply the way the system now is. Publish or perish, self-promote or remain invisible, sell yourself or be overlooked. This is certainly something we’re considering at the moment in regards to our Athena SWAN submission and the relatively low success rates of women going for promotion. To ‘fix’ this issue it appear that the answer is not that we need to change the system or the way the promotions process functions, instead we are told that it is the responsibility of female academics to change. Women are encouraged to attend training courses that will help them ‘succeed’. These courses tell us that we need to self-promote, be more assured and assertive, they tell us how to network, how to use social media to maximize our impact, how to work the room, how to practice our ‘elevator pitches’.  What this training boils down to then, is that to be successful you need to emulate the performance of ‘successful’ senior men. But surely we don’t need yet more of this in academia. Perhaps then, as feminist academics, our role is to call out individualized everyday acts of self-promotion and competition, which are so often (albeit not always) a masculine endeavour. Think, for example, of the colleague who feels compelled to tell you the worth of their latest grant to the nearest pound, the one who constantly name-drops his famous advisor, the combative or self-promotional seminar question (I found your talk really interesting, so here’s a ten-minute spiel about my own brilliance). These are displays of insecurity masked as masculine bravado. Call them out, roll your eyes, sigh loudly, do it differently.

Photo: An inspirational message displayed in my office.

 

[i] The Athena SWAN charter seeks to advance ‘gender equality in academia’. Members who sign up to the charter are required to apply for Athena SWAN awards which recognise good practice. https://www.ecu.ac.uk/equality-charters/athena-swan/

[ii] The Research Excellence Framework (REF), which assesses the research undertaken in UK Higher Education institutions: measuring the quality of publications and their impact beyond academia.

[iii] The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which attempts to assess the quality of teaching in English Higher Education institutions.

[iv] Though currently many of our office doors are adorned with “Lego VC” posters in support of the strike  https://www.flickr.com/photos/followthethings/sets/72157688065608790/

Eleanor Wilkinson is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Southampton.

Contact: e.k.wilkinson@soton.ac.uk

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A Bosnian girl: Understanding the female gender and nationality, in post-conflict, post-socialist Sarajevo. By Rebecca Collinson

Rebecca Collinson is the second-prize winner of the GFGRG 2016-17 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize.

A year and a half ago I began investigating the intersectionality of gendered, nationalist and religious identities for my undergraduate dissertation. Having been inspired by previous university work on the relationship of these identity categorisations within the context of divided cities, such as Belfast and Jerusalem; I sought to understand the construction of the female gender within another post-conflict context: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH). This city was chosen as a research site due to the significance of the ethnopolitical conflict that took place within it (1992-1995) and throughout the surrounding territory of BiH: this violent conflict exposed Europe to brutality unseen since World War Two. This conflict, driven by nationalism, saw the strategic use of gender-specific atrocities, such as the rape of women employed by all warring factions. Throughout the conflict’s history, gender identities have thus been tied up within national identities to serve territorial ideologies. Like studies conducted in Northern Ireland  (Walker, 1992) on the politicisation of Protestant religion, it became very apparent that national identities within the BiH context were strongly tied to religious identity: the battle over territory between the different national groups has meant religion has become integral to strengthening national identity. This was suggested when asking interviewees throughout this research what they consider their religion to be: a large proportion (of Bosnian-Serb or Bosnian-Croat) replied with “Croat/Serb”. Furthermore, when asking what nationality they consider themselves to be, a large proportion of Bosniaks (Muslim Bosnians) replied with Muslim. Thus, understanding the constructions of the various religious identities: Catholic Christianity; Orthodox Christianity; and Islam, and their strong ties to the constructed national identities, is integral to understanding how women experience their gender today.

Studying the intersectionality of female, religious and national identities highlighted the hidden acts of multiple discriminations women in Sarajevo experience, revealing in my opinion, the most interesting part of the research: the evident ‘othering’ performed against Bosniak (Muslim) women, not only by Bosnian-Serb/-Croat women but also by Bosniaks themselves. The interviews highlighted that multiple constructions of Muslim-female identity are being created, through what individuals dis-identify with. For example, one female Bosniak interviewee stated: “You see a Muslim woman now, and would swear she’s Turkish from how she’s covered up, this is not typical for Muslim women from Bosnia!”. This identifies how respondents had differentiated themselves from ‘other’ Muslim identities; the majority of Bosniak women interviewed actively rejected the practice of wearing religious headdress from their understanding of their Muslim identity. Interviewees (including female Bosniaks) made clear connections between this practice of religion and women’s subservience to men: it was thought by most interviewees that this expression of religion symbolised increasing male control over Muslim women to retain their ‘traditional’ religious identity. This finding identified that, despite belonging to the same religion and national identity, women are experiencing different forms of discriminations due to the ‘othering’ that is taking place against constructions of Muslim identity that are not deemed to be Bosnian-Muslim identity. Interestingly, the Bosnian cultural construction of how Islam should be practiced within society, which is ultimately rooted within the Yugoslav past of cultural homogenisation (Walsh, 2000), has produced an overall Bosnian nationality that transcends religious/ethno-nationalist boundaries: “it is not our Muslim society”. Thus, Bosniak women become the subjects of prejudice based upon cultural constructions of national identity even from those who share the same religion. However, when interviewing one Bosniak woman who had decided to wear a hijab, the identity construction of Muslim women that wear headdress as ‘traditional’ and subservient to men was completely contradicted: “What happened in the past with the war, my whole life has been thinking about religion… By wearing a hijab, I had relief of my soul and I feel so comfortable with myself… But I’m still aware of the fact that if I do I will have some disadvantage in society”. Not only does she identify that she is wears her hijab for her own empowerment, additionally she is university-educated, has full-time employment, and is unmarried: denouncing the prejudice placed on her practices of her religious identity. Furthermore, this woman feels that the identity constructions of Muslim women practicing their identity in this form are so strong that it can put her at a disadvantage: despite being a Bosnian woman, she feels she will be categorised as an ‘other’ that is defined by oppression and ‘traditional’ roles, in society’s construction of her identity. Thus, identity can be understood as implicitly bound within power relations, as identified by Penrose (2008): there are conflicts between Muslim identities over which is the dominant group that represents Bosnian nationality, and women’s identities are shaped through these complex interactions, forming multiple and simultaneous representations of self and other (McCall, 2005).

References:

McCall, L. (2005). The complexity of intersectionality. Signs: Journal of women in culture and society. 30 (1), p1771-1802.

Penrose, J. and Mole, R. (2008). Nation-States and National Identity. In: Cox, K. Low, M. and Robinson, J. The Sage Handbook of Political Geography. London: Sage. pp271-285.

Walker, B. (1992). 1641, 1689, 1690 and all that: The Unionist sense of history. Irish Review. 12 (1), p56-64.

Walsh, M. (2000). Aftermath: the impact of conflict on women in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Centre for development information and evaluation. Working Paper No. 302, p1-13.

Contact: rebeccacollinson@hotmail.co.uk

 

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Call for expressions of interest: Geography’s Glass Ceilings? Professional Mentoring Event

“Glass ceilings” and “stone floors” have become common descriptors in discussions of women’s career trajectories. Writing in 2016, Maddrell et al. note that while there has been positive action in gender equality in the academic workplace geography should not assume it has ‘tackled the “gender problem”’. While the number of women in professorial roles has increased from 4% in 1978 to 21% in 2012/13, as they note ‘respondents were acutely aware of key career transition points, and both enablers and barriers to their progression.’

Accompanying the growing number of events to support early career researchers the Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group (GFGRG) and the Social and Cultural Geography Research Group (SCGRG) are organising an event targeted at geographers at professorial-level who are facing a series of issues and questions around the next steps in their career, perhaps including but not limited to:

  • Reflecting on the different understandings of leadership
  • How to manage and negotiate new research directions/ changes in research direction
  • Decisions around the scale of research: to develop and manage a large research team or not?
  • ‘Real-life’ accounts of university level administrative roles
  • Evolving seniority in teaching roles

We are planning to hold the day long event at the RGS (Lowther Room) on June 8th, 2018 in London to discuss these and other issues. At this stage we invite expressions of interest that note up to five issues that potential attendees might find it valuable to address.

Please direct expressions of interest to Katherine Brickell (GFGRG Chair) katherine.brickell@rhul.ac.uk and Harriet Hawkins harriet.hawkins@rhul.ac.uk (SCGRG Chair) by 26th March 2018.

 

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