Date: 20 February 2013, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House
Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series
Dr Maria Do Mar Pereira – Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, University of Leeds
How do academics demarcate what constitutes ‘proper’ academic knowledge? And to what extent is feminist scholarship recognised as such? In this presentation, I examine these questions using material from an ethnographic study of academia in Portugal which draws on debates in feminist epistemology, science and technology studies, and Foucauldian analyses of the nature of knowledge production. I will show that in classrooms and conferences non-feminist scholars very commonly describe feminist scholarship as capable of generating credible and valuable knowledge, BUT only in some instances and in limited ways.
I will present examples of these adversative claims (i.e. propositions that express opposition or discrepancy through a ‘but’ or equivalent adversative conjunction) and analyse their structure, content and uses of caricature and humour, charting how epistemic boundaries are drawn in/through them and how feminist scholarship is positioned in relation to those boundaries. I argue that this boundary-work produces a representation of feminist scholarship as being located partly within, and partly outside, the realm of proper knowledge, a move which I designate as an epistemic splitting of that scholarship. I suggest that this splitting enables and legitimates a selective engagement with feminist work, because it provides non-feminist scholars with a recognised epistemological rationale for taking into account the feminist insights which broadly fit mainstream frameworks, while simultaneously rejecting as epistemologically unsound the feminist critiques of those frameworks.