An international conference at the Australian National University
Signature Event, 2020, ANU Gender Institute. Also supported by: Development Policy Centre, ANU
3-4 November 2020
Molonglo Theatre, J.G. Crawford Building, Liversidge Road, ACTON 2601, Canberra, Australia
Call for Papers
Liberal feminists imagined a universal category of ‘women’ as a basis for solidarity, but also believed it as homogeneous. Today, feminist politics recognises multiple forms of social stratification, such as class, race, indigneity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion and disability as well as gender. ‘Intersectionality’ was introduced as a name for the ways they combine to create intensified disadvantages and exclusions. As gender mainstreaming has gained momentum, the idea that identities are heterogeneous has also evolved and spread into multiple arenas. Yet, in institutional settings, the term is often watered down: difference is equated with diversity, and ‘intersectionality’ is utilised as a shorthand for a bland concept of diversity.
The growing use of the term ‘intersectionality’ in contemporary research, policy-making and practice creates challenges in a wide range of contexts – from the careers of women in universities and other institutions in the Global North to development research, policies and practices in the Global South. While putting intersectionality at the centre of gender debates enriches awareness of marginality, the diffusion of the term risks emptying its powerful and specific meaning, and diminishing or instrumentalising feminist politics.
This conference will discuss the meanings of intersectionality in feminist analysis and emerging gender politics. It will consider the power of the concept to advance and deepen feminist thought, and the theoretical and methodological challenges as well as practical implications translating a sophisticated feminist theory into research, policy-making and practice in all parts of life. We invite everyone interested in intersectionality to participate in discussions with a wide range of actors who are affected by the circulation of the concept, including civil society activists, union-workers, academics, researchers, policy-makers as well as professionals who apply these policies, and development institutions.
We encourage the presenters to address the issues that arise across this spectrum:
- Experiential – Who is ‘intersectional’? We all have multiple characteristics that make up our identities but the intersections are more likely to be obscured for characteristics that are normative, such as whiteness, maleness and so on. How are intersectional inequalities experienced in different locations and contexts? Does this approach change our understandings of the politics of power??
- Theoretical – The term ‘intersectionality’ came from practical attempts to show the cumulating impact of gender and race. How does the term work for other structures of inequality such as class and disability? How do subaltern, decolonised or postcolonial perspectives converse with intersectionality? Does intersectionality change our understanding of gender, power and feminism? What further potential does the concept have to advance feminist thought and social change?
- Political – How does intersectionality strengthen the mainstreaming of gender in institutions and in policies (such as those about VAW)? (such as those about VAW)? How does an understanding of intersectionality allow us to imagine feminist solidarities in a globalised world? How do we now understand the ground of feminist solidarity and cooperative action?
- Methodological – In today’s audit culture there is pressure to turn any policy-relevant concept into a measurable and replicable tool. What has happened to the idea of intersectionality in the world of indicators, and does quantification help or hinder feminist work? What use is currently being made of the term in research and practice? What prospects are there now for combining feminist theories with applied practices without diluting either?
We invite participants to reflect on these and related questions they have confronted in their areas of work.
Organising Committee, ANU:
- Chair: Associate Professor Fiona Jenkins, Convenor of ANU Gender Institute, and Centre for Moral, Social and Political Theory, College of Arts and Social Sciences
- Primary Organiser: Professor Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, Crawford School of Public Policy, College of Asia and the Pacific
- Ms Sally Moyle, Honorary Associate Professor, Gender Institute
- Professor Bina D’Costa, Coral Bell School of Asias-Pacific Affairs, College of Asia and the Pacific
- Professor Margaret Jolly, School of Culture, History and Languages, College of Asia and the Pacific
Confirmed Keynote addresses:
- Professor Raewyn Connel, University of Sydney, Australia
- Professor Sirma Bilge, Faculté des arts et des sciences, Département de sociologie, Université de Montréal, Canada
- Professor Nikita Dhawan, Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Gießen, Germany
Please pre-register for the conference on ANU’s Gender Institute website.
Participants from outside of ANU – AUD 100 for two days (no single-day registration is available)
Participants from ANU: Staff – AUD 75; Masters & PhD students free.
The conference organizers regret that we do not have funds to offer travel or accommodation assistance.
Information for intending presenters
People who would like to give papers or lead discussions, please send to Kuntala.Lahiri-Dutt@anu.edu.au a short (not more than 300 words) abstract, along with a proposed title, as Word documents, by 30 May, 2020. Please also send us a short (not more than 150 words) bio at the same time.
Information on ANU/Canberra, and some logistics
The Australian National University is one of the largest universities in Australia.
In 2011, it established the ANU Gender Institute, which acts as the nodal point that connects all ongoing work on gender and sexuality in research, education and outreach in the university and beyond. It also promotes innovative research and programs to help redress gendered inequalities within the ANU.
Canberra is Australia’s capital city, located about 290 km from Sydney, the nearest large metropolis. The best way to travel is to fly to Sydney and then catch a Murrays or Greyhound bus from Sydney Airport. The three and half hour bus ride is pleasant, and brings you to the heart of Canberra (Jolimont Centre bus station) from where the ANU Campus is less than 2 kilometres away. With its many nature reserves and the nearby ranges, the planned ‘bush capital’ city offers excellent exposure to the compelling beauties of Australian nature. Weather in November is generally pleasant, but please look up the BOM site for latest updates.
There are many hotels, and quite a few AirBNBs and self-serviced apartments available nearby. If you choose to stay within the ANU campus, accommodation is available in the commercially run hotel, the University House. Short-stay accommodation is also available in the self-serviced Liversidge Apartments.