Date: 15 May 2013, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House
Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series
Dr Maud Perrier: School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, University of Bristol
According to McRobbie (2008), under neo-liberalism female subjectivity has become reconstituted through economic participation, consumer citizenship and self-regulation. Marnina Gonick writes that ‘Girls are simultaneously recognized as the potential idealized autonomous neoliberal subject even as they are also always already at risk of failing to secure the position.’ Thus femininity in late modernity is troublesome in that it provides both opportunities and constraints for young women. This paper extends feminist scholarship on the contradictions of contemporary femininities by looking at how the experience of professional women’s migration produces particular gendered subjectivities and new kinds of psychical conflict. How do highly educated women without children who live far away from their families negotiate their simultaneous desire to be an autonomous achieving individual and a relational family member?
I argue that there is an affinity between post-femininity and geographical mobility: the migrant professional single woman encapsulates in new ways the contradictions of neo-liberal femininity. The geographically mobile career woman represents one of the most docile neo-liberal subject: global, self-made, professionally successful and independent from home and family responsibilities. The narratives of women who have ‘put work first’ are particularly salient given that contemporary normative ideals of femininity privilege educational and career success and increasingly centre on being economically independent, autonomous and self-responsible (Allen and Osgood, 2009). I also suggest that collective biography is a methodology that enables an enquiry into the relationship between feminine subjectivity, neoliberalism and place which encompasses an affective mapping out of the unconscious feelings, fantasies and desires that are entangled in the home/abroad and work/family nexus.