FRN Work-in-Progress and Writing Retreat Days

In February, FRN held its Work-in-Progress Day, followed by a two day Writing Retreat at the Innovation Campus. The three day event was organised by Vicki Crinis, assisted by FRN Convenors, Sharon Crozier-De Rosa and Di Kelly. Invited respondent and mentor, Prof. Louise D’Arcens (Macquarie University) demonstrated her intellectual versatility as she offered superb individual advice on the nine presentations on topics as varied as ‘Global IVF’, ‘Shame and Divorce’, ‘Queer Family’, ‘Bisexual Invisibility’, ‘Selling Hatred and Happiness’, ‘Asia Australia Television Viewership’, ‘Sexual Violence’, and ‘Trafficking and the Age of Consent’. Prof D’Arcens stayed on to offer writing advice at FRN’s annual Writing Retreat beginning the following day. Perhaps twenty of us kick-started or continued our 2018 writing plans in the quiet, scholarly, collegial and uninterrupted environment that the the FRN Retreat provided. Thank you to Vicki for organising, Louise for mentoring, and all others for presenting, participating as audience members, and for contributing to a rich, feminist-inspired intellectual environment.

 

 

Report – FRN Mini-Writing Retreat for HDR Students

Report by Kai Ruo Soh
PhD Candidate, FRN HDR Steering Group Member

FRN ran a mini writing retreat for LHA HDR students, which also included a working lunch and informal discussion with academic mentors. Participants were provided time for unstructured writing and were then invited to have lunch and discuss any questions they had in regards to academic writing with academic mentors Dr Lisa Slater and Dr Sukhmani Khorana.

 

Report: 2017 FRN Symposium

First Nations Feminism
Report by Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate and FRN HDR Steering Group member
The symposium started off with two very insightful talks by Marlene Longbottom from UOW and Evelyn Aralueun Corr from USYD. Marlene spoke about feminism in aboriginal culture through sharing her experiences as an indigenous feminist within her own community. Next, Evelyn discussed how although we are currently at the historical peak of feminist visibility, aboriginal women are being largely ignored when they speak out or take action against the impacts of colonialism in their communities. With her research, she aims to provide discussion in the academy and the broader national discourse on the efforts by aboriginal women.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh

Talk and Photo Exhibition
Report by Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate and FRN HDR Steering Group member
Julia Martinez and Kate Bagnall presented an intriguing photo exhibition drawn from their forthcoming edited collection on Chinese women, gendered migration and their mobile lives between China and Australia. The exhibition included images of the Chinese Australian women, which was accompanied by their short biographical sketches.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh

HDRs Doing Feminist-Inspired Research
Report by Dylan Davis, PhD Candidate and FRN HDR Steering Group member/
As part of the Symposium, the FRN’s Higher Degree Research (HDR) Steering Group coordinated a panel session on ‘HDRs Doing Feminist-Inspired Research’. The event was designed to facilitate conversation among researchers at different stages of their research trajectories by allowing HDRs to do short presentations on how feminism has influenced their research and receive feedback and comments from invited respondents. Six HDRs – Samson Soulsby, Emma Bellino, Susannah Clement, Rachael Bolton, Nadia Al Esi and Dipali Mathur – presented from across a wide range of disciplines and topics including monster theory, nationality laws and interracial marriage, feminist geography, Australian masculinities, Arab women writers, and post-humanism. Each of the presenters then received feedback and suggestions from our invited respondents, Tanja Dreher (Associate Professor in Media at UNSW) and Linda Steele (Senior Lecturer in Law at UTS). Many thanks for our presenters who were able to raise some thought-provoking issues for feminist research in a very short space of time and to our respondents for their insights and generosity. Thanks also to Fabienne Else for facilitating the session.
Photo by: Ayesha Hasan, PhD Candidate

Public Event with Ellen van Neerven and Clementine Ford
Report by Samson Soulsby, PhD Candidate, LHA Postgraduate Representative
Following on from UOW’s “Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts” symposium, Ellen van Neerven and Clementine Ford, along with their host for the evening, Hayley Scrivener, spoke powerfully about their experiences as women/creators, sharing insights into their creative processes, their achievements and struggles, and their stories—particularly Heat and Light (Van Neerven, 2014) and Fight Like A Girl (Ford, 2016). Drawing on these personal experiences, Van Neerven and Ford discussed feminisms: the existence of, and the need for, a plurality of feminist perspectives, a kind of solidarity built on acknowledging the differences in women’s lives and the disparity in privileges awarded to them, and respecting the differing needs, goals, perspectives, knowledges, and conceptualisations of feminism that come from these different experiences.

A running theme throughout the evening—throughout the conversations of Indigenous Australian activism, the challenges of working through anxiety as a creator, the marriage equality debate, and the importance of support networks—was the voice, a continuous reflection on how we can all embed a feminist ethos into our interactions, especially on online platforms and in public conversations. In this era of ubiquitous social media, feminists—and especially feminists of privilege—are called first to listen and carefully consider when to share one’s own voice, and when it is more important to raise up the voices of others.

I thank Ellen, Clementine, and Hayley for sharing with us such a thought-provoking and enjoyable event, and extend my thanks to the Wollongong Writers Festival and UOW’s FRN for making it possible.

Photo by: Susannah Clement, PhD Candidate

Violence against Women and Violent Women
Report by Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate, FRN HDR Steering Group Member
This panel session focuses on the discussion on violence against women through three different contexts: through law, the workplace and media representation. Julia Quilter’s paper examines a sexual assault trial to demonstrate the reasons behind why women do not report sexual assaults, and how the justice system could work against female victims. Di Kelly’s presentation illustrated the factors behind why organisations largely ignore cases on work place bullying.  Di’s paper concluded with possible remediation and prevention of such issues dire to women employees, and also encouraged feminist scholars to turn their research to this topic. Last but not least, Renee Middlemost and Charlotte Allen explore how television shows such as Orange is the New Black and Wentworth are depicting the idea of feminism. Renee and Charlotte argue that there are issues behind these depictions as the shows represent the violent woman to be “strong” and a “feminist”.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate

Contesting Gendered Emotions – Sponsored by Contemporary Emotions Research Network (CERN)
Report by Sukhmani Khorana, Senior Lecturer, Online Coordinator FRN
On the second day of the FRN symposium, proceedings commenced with a panel on ‘Contesting Gendered Emotions’, co-sponsored by the Contemporary Emotions Research Network (CERN). This includes two invited speakers who were external to UOW – Dr Melissa Bellanta (ACU), and Dr Rebecca Olson (UQ), as well as CERN co-founder, Dr Roger Patulny. While Bellanta’s paper politicised masculine sentimentality in accounts of ‘larrikins’ in Australian colonial history, Olson looked at contemporary online media which facilitates male expression of emotion, albeit using context-specific vocabulary and gendered rules. Patulny’s presentation highlighted quantitative evidence that challenges normative ideas of gender-specific emotions in surveyed populations. This was followed by a screening of short films on the theme of intersectionality.

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate

Intersectionality on Film
Report by Sukhmani Khorana, Senior Lecturer, Online Coordinator FRN

Two of the films were obtained with permission from the Singapore International Film Festival, and put a spotlight on the plight of Rohingya refugee children in the Asia-Pacific, and the coming of age of Thai school girls, respectively. The third film explored the issue of disability, especially as it intersects with women’s everyday lives. Karen Crowe, an HDR student at UOW, responded to the screening, and led a discussion with members of the audience on various aspects of intersectionality in practice. 

Photo by: Kai Ruo Soh, PhD Candidate

Milk Culture: Feminist Resonances across Lives in the Dairy Industry
This panel presentation was themed based on the dairy industry in Australia and was presented by Deirdre Wicks from University of Newcastle, along with Melissa Boyd and Alison Moore. Deirdre began the panel by introducing the dairy industry through a historical and theoretical engagement of the ‘animal question’ Deirdre explores this by using a feminist lens to examine the benefits and perceived dangers for women associating their interest with animals. Next, Melissa discussed the importance of animal ethics in the dairy industry through three short stories, based on Melissa’s personal experiences. Last but not least, Alison presented a text-analytic study of the dairy culture and its promotion in Australia. Alison’s paper also examines the gender representation of these promotional collaterals and argues that women are targeted as both gatekeepers to family consumption and as consumers with special nutritional needs in different reproductive lifestyle.

 

Roundtable: Feminist Interventions/Impacts: A Multidisciplinary Approach
The roundtable featured LHA’s feminist researcher, Esther Alloun, Vera Mcakie, Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, Lisa Slater and Ika Willis. The roundtable consisted of a discussion on how feminism has impacted their research area, along with the growth and support FRN has provided to various HDRs and Academics over the years.

2017 Feminist Research Network Symposium 25 to 26 September

2017 Feminist Research Network Symposium – ‘Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts

Sharing four years of feminist-inspired research at the University of Wollongong (UOW), The Feminist Research Network (FRN) is holding a symposium – ‘Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts’  to showcase feminist-inspired research of UOW scholars and those external to the university from 25th to 26th September 2017.

Panels include: ‘First Nations Feminism’, ‘Violence against Women and Violent Women’, ‘Contesting Gendered Emotions’, ‘Milk Culture: Feminist Resonances Across Lives in the Dairy Industry’, along with a HDR session on how feminism has inspired UOW HDR research.

In addition to panel discussions, the symposium features a photographic exhibition ‘Locating Chinese Women: Historical Mobility between China and Australia’, and a film screening on ‘Intersectionality on Film’.

The full program will be available on this FRN blog closer to the date.

Please RSVP by 22 September for catering.

If you have any questions or require more information please contact Kai Soh: krs354@uowmail.edu.au

Clementine Ford and Ellen van Neerven @ FRN!

Clementine Ford and Ellen van Neerven are coming to the University of Wollongong as part of the 2017 Feminist Research Network (FRN) Symposium – ‘Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts’!

These passionate activists will also be appearing at a public event for Wollongong Writers Festival as part of a residency series funded by UOW.

UOW Event: ‘Feminist Interventions, Feminist Impacts’, Monday 25th September, 5-7pm, UOW, Bld 20.4.              

 [UOW Staff & Students FREE but REGISTER for catering here by 22 Sept: RSVP]

 The Wollongong Writers Festival is also holding a Festival event featuring Celementine Ford and Ellen van Neerven on Tuesday 26th September, from 6-7.30pm

Festival Event: ‘Writing and Living as a Political Act’, Featuring: Winnie Dunn with Clementine Ford & Ellen van Neerven, Tuesday 26th September, 6-7.30pm, Wollongong Art Gallery, 46 Burelli St.           

 [COST $25: Bookings: http://www.wollongongwritersfestival.com/events-2/]

Report – CASS & FRN Post-Grad and Research Seminar Event

Three Things I’ve Learnt as a Feminist Researcher

As part of the CASS & FRN Post-Grad and Research Seminar Event, the FRN’s Higher Degree Research (HDR) Steering Group coordinated the morning session, ‘Three things I’ve learnt as a feminist researcher’. The Steering Group invited three academics to reflect on their experiences as feminists undertaking research and navigating the academic environment to gain insight into how feminist knowledge can be creatively articulated and re-imagined through a variety of feminist strategies and praxis in today’s university. The session was aimed at post-graduate and early career researchers. It attracted attendees from across the University who braved the miserable weather and were rewarded with some fascinating and diverse discussion on the building of successful academic careers as feminists.

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey kicked off the session and welcomed all the ‘nasty women’ and ‘feral feminists’ in the room; she went on to share her ‘feminist triplets’ with the audience. She started by stressing that feminism teaches us that we are perpetual learners and students. Because we are often blind to the simultaneity of different forms of oppression, as intersectional feminism highlights, being ‘caught out’ or ‘caught unaware’ should be welcomed as a learning experience. She also warned against making political grounds for one movement at the expense of others. Indeed, as a feminist researcher, Fiona has explored the intersection of whiteness and gender and the uncomfortable position of complicity (rather than innocence) of white women to racial and colonial oppressions. She concluded by acknowledging the difficulty involved in challenging the ways in which feminists are defined as the problem when they point out the problems of (hetero)patriarchy and the associated violence hidden in plain sight.

Sharon Quah spoke next and outlined how, as a feminist researcher, she has become attuned to the dynamics of power and marginality that exist in academic life. Further, she eloquently raised the need to decolonise the curriculum and include a greater diversity of scholars in subjects’ reading lists. Practicing an ethics of care and reciprocity in all aspects of teaching, research and service was also mentioned as an extension of feminist consciousness and praxis. Nicole Cook echoed ideas from the other panel members, highlighting the need for feminist collegiality, self-care and support networks, while also bearing in mind that not all women are feminists.

A big thank you to our three speakers, Nicole Cook (Lecturer in Human Geography), Sharon Quah (Lecturer in Sociology), and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey (Head of School, HSI) for sharing their experiences, critical understandings of feminism, and some thought-provoking take-homes, as well as for their general support of the event. Thanks also to the FRN for supporting the Steering Group, this event and for the delicious vegetarian/vegan lunch catering. Big thanks also to the wonderful CASS team, especially Claire Lowrie for her direct support, and overall coordination of an excellent event.

Lastly, for examples of feminist-inspired writing, we recommend the excellent scholarship from our three speakers, in particular:

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey, ‘Playing Chicken at the Intersection: The White Critic of Whiteness’, Borderlands 3, no. 2 (2004) Available from: http://www.borderlands.net.au/vol3no2_2004/probyn_playing.htm

Sharon Quah Perspectives on Marital Dissolution: Divorce Biographies in Singapore. (Singapore, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London: Springer, 2015).

Nicole Cook recommends Woolf, V. 2004 A Room of One’s Own. London: Penguin.

Report by Esther Alloun @EstherAlloun
UoW PhD Candidate, FRN Reading Group Facilitator and FRN HDR Steering Group member

Report – ‘Beyond the Human: Feminism and the Animal Turn’ Symposium

Sponsored by the Feminist Research Network (FRN) and the Material Ecologies Research Network (MeCo), Beyond The Human began with an acknowledgement of the Dharawal, Wadi Wadi and Yuin nations by the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law Humanities and the Arts, Professor Amanda Lawson.

Day 1

Longhorn sheep in north America are often depicted as hyperaggressive and compulsorily heterosexual in documentary media. So Philip Armstrong –a distinguished animal studies scholar from the University of Canterbury, sought to queer the Darwinian genealogy of this heteronormative, patriarchal orthodoxy. Philip’s forthcoming book Sheep (Reaktion 2016) develops the ethological, cultural and historical resonances of the sheep.

With Annie Potts, Philip is co-Director of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies based at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch. Annie explored the rich trajectory of the gendering of chickens and productively unsettled this genealogy by calling on Baba Yaga, the Eastern European grandmother figure, whose ambivalence gives agency back to the chicken. Among many revelations, we learned how re-wilded cocks will companionably ‘dance’ with one another and only fight to the death when forced by humans.

LHA’s Animal Studies Journal is pleased to announce that Annie Potts and Philip Armstrong will join ASJ as Associate Editors, alongside Michael Griffiths and under the Editorship of Melissa Boyde.

An exciting panel of emerging animal studies voices took place between Annie and Philips’ respective talks. Donelle Gadenne presented an evocative narration of the production of patriarch masculinity through two recent fishing narratives, while Roslyn Appleby drew a trajectory through shark representations and the distractions they provide from masculinist geopolitical agendas, from World War II through the Vietnam War—a timely lesson for the politics of the sharks at risk of being made killable by calls for culling in Northern NSW.

Fiona Probyn-Rapsey followed Annie’s talk on chickens with five propositions on the gendering and marginalisation of animal studies within feminist studies. Her propositions culminated in the idea that feminism can only ambivalently reclaim the crazy cat lady – a figure circulating from popular culture to urban legend – to deauthorise feminist-animal studies intersectionality.

Rosemary Clareehan brought discourse analysis to the phenomena of Vegan v-blogs on youtube. Muhammad Kavesh integrated masculinity and animality into a cultural anthropological account of the gendering of dogfighting and cockfighting in Pakistan. And, on the same panel, Hayley Singer – a powerful emerging voice in the field – introduced questions of writing as animal through subversion of carnophallogocentric discourse with her reading of Deborah Levy’s 1997 novel Diary of a Steak.

2016-02-08 10.54.20The first day of the conference was rounded out by a magnificent panel spanning performance, photographic practice and curatorial attention to urgent ecologies. Peta Tait, the author of numerous works on performance and empire, but, most recently, the animal oriented Fighting Nature: Travelling menageries, animal acts and war shows” (Sydney U. P. 2015) gave a talk which surveyed three works at the intersection of settler colonialism and animality, and culminated most evocatively in a close visual reading of Gamilaroi artist r e a’s most recent work, which plays with the trope of the hunted Indigenous women through paint – red, white and blue on Victorian garb. Fiona Edmonds Dobrijevich theorised her practice of ocean swimming with whale sharks, often at night, through Nietzschean vitality. Finally, MeCo collective member Su Ballard drew on her ongoing work on urgent ecologies to think naturecultures, extinction and scale through Diana Thaters work on dung beetles that navigate by the milky way, and Shannon Te Ao’s installation work.

Day Two

Day two began with the MeCo Lecture by Activist/Artist/Academic Yvette Watt. Yvette showed that the personal remains the political even as it works from micro to macro scales and in reverse. She did so by contrasting her trajectory in her art practice as she moved over thirty years from activism to academia. Yvette’s activism crystallised into a profound series of artworks, her photographic Factory Farm series, which reveals the exterior of sites of intensive factory farms. The boundaries of her practice tessellate anew in the work Duck Lake – a collaboration of artists, choreographers, dancers and activists. The project includes a performance of Swan Lake which will be staged at the opening of the (legal) duck shooting season at World Heritage listed Moulting lagoon in Tasmania, an important bird area.

The afternoon of the conference’s second day then broke out into a pedagogically informed sharing environment as Philip and Annie chaired respective sessions. Philip’s session focused on key issues in teaching animal studies and culminated in a group reading of Angela Singer’s work Chilled Lamb (2003) and the politics of animal trophies and art collecting.

Annie’s session focalized an account of teaching Human-Animal Studies through a retrospective consideration of the work of Carol Adams. Fay Wray, the “animalized woman” and King Kong the “humanized animal,” opened participants to the complexity of Adams’s open taxonomy of animals and gender.

Attendance at the symposium peaked at over 50 for a number of the papers and overall we were encouraged by the representation of UOW staff and students, especially from TAEM, and the number of people who travelled to attend. It was rewarding to hear from so many attendees that the symposium and masterclass had provided a much needed context and support for their developing interest in animal studies, both in their research and curriculum development.

Report by the Organising Collective:

Melissa Boyde, Rachel Carr, Nicky Evans, Mike Griffiths, Alison Moore and Colin Salter

MECO and FRN