Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
School of Sociology and Social Policy
Social Sciences Building
Leeds, LS2 9JT

Tel: +44 (0) 113 343 3770
Fax: +44 (0) 113 343 4415

CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13

Sofia Santos (Universidade de Porto): Conducting Research on Sex Education within Portuguese and British Schools: Challenges and Dilemmas

Date: 20 February 2013, 1.30pm
Location: Parkinson Building, Room B11

Sofia Santos, Universidade de Porto

During the last decades debates around sexuality, sexual rights and sexual education have brought new legitimacy to research on sexuality. But despite this increasing visibility and the changes it has enabled, social scientists are still facing great difficulties and obstacles in furthering this research. Currently, these topics are still seen as polemical, deviant and restricted to some academic groups. Thus, as researchers in this field, we have to ask ourselves “is it possible to conduct valid research on sexuality?” and “what kinds of problems will we face during the fieldwork because of the nature of our topics?”.

In this session, I propose a discussion about the difficulties of researching young people’s sexuality in the context of schooling, drawing on experiences from my PhD project on sex education.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, Events.

Dr Marcella Koscianczuk: Between home and homeland, reconstruction of Palestinian women understanding of safety

Date: 21 November 2012, 2.00pm
Location: Blenheim Terrace SR (G.15) House No. 11-14

I would like to discuss some ideas connected with my work on Palestinian women understanding of safety and unsafety according to their political, social and economical situation. The presentation will show some results of my field work which I have been doing during the summer 2012.

I will show the strong connections and intersectional implication between national, local, and gender issues. The speech will answer such questions as:

  • How national ideology is connected to understanding of private/public sphere, what does it mean nation for men and women?
  • How the idea of the homeland is connected to the idea of home?
  • If the body plays an important role in understanding idea of safety?

My research was based on photo-interviews so we may also discuss such issues as: the limits of visual anthropology and its role in non-European surroundings. What is interesting, I will show how visual methodology shows the contradictions in understanding national and personal identity…

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, Events.

Dr Maud Perrier – Professional Migrant Women and the Contradictions of Contemporary Femininities

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.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, Events.

Dr Camilla Bassi – What’s Radical about Reality TV? An Unexpected Tale of a Chinese Antihero and Space for Lesbian Identity

Date: 06 March 2013, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series

Dr Camilla Bassi: Cultural, Communication and Computing Research Institute, Sheffield Hallam University

Building upon previous research on Shanghai’s gay political economy, this presentation will explore the remarkable phenomenon of the reality television show, “Mongolian Cow Sour Yogurt Super Girl Contest”. Both the popularity and consequences of Super Girl will be discussed, through the analysis of interview material and secondary documentation. Moreover, connections will be made between the socio-cultural and the politico-economic aspects of the Super Girl phenomenon, in order to fully illustrate the radical space that was created in China for an antihero and lesbian identity; so radical it seems, that the Super Girl show was axed.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, Events.

Dr Maria Do Mar Pereira: Pushing, Pulling and Splitting Feminisms: The status of Feminist Scholarship in Contemporary Academia

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.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, Events.

Dr Jamie Heckert: Loving Politics: On the Art of Living Together

Date: 06 February 2013,
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series

Dr Jamie Heckert: Anarchist Studies Network


This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, Events.

Dr Robert Howes: Problematising Sexuality in 19th Century Portugal: The Brazilian Connection

Date: 23 January 2013, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series

Dr Robert Howes: Dept. of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, King’s College London


The paper will show how new ideas about gender and sexuality were popularised in late 19th and early 20th century Portugal, with a particular emphasis on the country’s close economic and cultural relations with its former colony, Brazil. It will analyse examples taken from literary discourse, press reports of sensational criminal trials and scientific publications aimed at the general public.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, Events.

Dr João Manuel de Oliveira: Gender and its Ghosts: Feminism and the Construction of Gender Theory

Date: 14 November 2012, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series

Dr João Manuel de Oliveira: Birkbeck Institute for Social Research and University of Porto


In the past two years, I have been working on a book on gender historiography trying to make sense of the multiple entanglements between feminism and gender theory. I have used the work of Benjamin, Derrida, Foucault and lately Deleuze and Guattari to understand how to tell a story of gender that : (a) is not based on an epistemology of history that only celebrates the winners, (b) takes gender as a pharmakon, ie, simultaneously medicine and poison for feminism; (c) uses the genealogy of gender as way to understand relations of power embedded in discourses; (d) allows an understanding of the mutations of the concept, its de-territorializations and re-territorializations, ultimately treating gender not as a concept, but as a rhizome.

Taking into account parts of the works of these philosophers I will present the cartography of three different accounts of this de-territorialized gender coming from a Western tradition of accounting for the ontology of masculinity and femininity. Using Avery Gordon’s (2008) proposal of a sociology of ghosts and haunting and Freud’s account of the uncanny, I will summon some ghosts of gender theory – the invert, the hermaphrodite, the transsexual and the feminist – to ground my several possible narratives using figurations and their material-semiotic contexts (Haraway, 2008).

The last part of the talk will show how these ghosts are present in the work of Judith Butler, who has actively summoned these ghosts and figures, creating a unique body of work on gender studies and feminist epistemology. This work of reframing the history of gender refusing to tell it as history, but rather as a cartography of several genealogies, provides a possibility of training the imagination for epistemological performance (Spivak, 2011), a basic condition to understand the promiscuity of the concept of gender and its multiple effects on feminist theory.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, News.

Dr Jane Chi Hyun Park – South Korean Beauty as Transnational Pan-Asian Aesthetic: Reading Around and Beyond 200 Pounds Beauty

Date: 30 October 2012, 5.00pm
Location: Seminar Room, Beech Grove House

Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies Seminar Series


This paper focuses on 200 Pounds Beauty, a contemporary South Korean film that uses humor to delineate the experiences of women who fail to meet dominant codes of beauty and femininity. Directed by Kim Young-hwa and released in 2006, the film follows the plight of Hanna, an obese twenty-something woman who has extreme plastic surgery to find love and become a famous singer.

Adapted from the manga, Kanna-San, Daiseikou Desu (Kanna’s Big Success) by Suzuki Yumiko this updated Ugly Duckling meets Little Mermaid story proved to be a surprising hit, selling 6.5 million tickets and earning $45 million at the domestic box office. It went on to win the Grand Bell Award for best actress and best cinematography in 2007, was adapted into a successful stage musical in 2008, and spawned a less successful sequel in 2010. The film also performed well in the region (grossing $550K in Singapore in a month and $190K in Hong Kong in 3 days). Finally, it catapulted Kim Ah-Jung, the actress who plays Hanna, to hallyu fame, eclipsing Jun Ji-hyun’s popularity from My Sassy Girl five years earlier.

Elsewhere I have argued that the commercial narratives, which we consume the most uncritically and which seem to have no overt ideological function often provide the richest examples of how dominant cultural values are being shaped and negotiated. As a way of exploring these values, I examine how the film’s melodramatic slapstick humor frames the protagonist’s journey and encourages the audience to sympathize with her. In particular, I want to consider how this sympathy, and in some cases, empathy might be read beyond a simple acceptance or celebration of normative femininity.

I attempt to do this with a close reading of how such femininity is depicted and complicated in the film through Hana’s physical transformation and its emotional, social and moral consequences. I then contextualize this reading in the film’s critical reception within Asia as well as through popular and medical discourses around beauty in Korea during and after its release. In so doing, I raise and attempt to respond, in preliminary ways, to the following questions. First, what new virtual model of hybrid and transcultural pan-Asian beauty is celebrated in this film and countless other hallyu media. Second, how can we understand its development and appeal for women and increasingly men, beyond reductive Westernization and globalization models? Finally, what kinds of social and cultural implications does this trend toward surgically modified beauty have, not only on members of South Korean society but also increasingly, those of other East and Southeast Asian countries as Korean cosmetic surgery tourism becomes ever more popular in the region?


Dr. Jane Chi Hyun Park is a senior lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies and the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Her research and teaching are concerned with the social uses of media technologies, the cultural impact of minority representations, and transnational flows of popular film, music, and television.

Her first book, Yellow Future: Oriental Style in Hollywood Cinema (University of Minnesota, 2010), examines the ideological role of East Asian imagery in Hollywood films. She has also published articles in a number of international journals such as Global Media Journal, World Literature Today, Asian Studies Review, Screening the Past, and Gender, Place and Culture and book chapters in East Main Street: Asian American Popular Culture (NYU Press, 2004), Mixed Race in Film and Television (NYU Press, 2008), Complicated Currents: Media Flows and Soft Power in East Asia (Monash University Press, 2009), and The Blackwell Companion to Film Comedy (Blackwell, forthcoming 2012).

Jane is currently working on two research projects. The first looks at diasporic and transnational movements in contemporary Asia Pacific film, focusing on aesthetics, performance, and genre. The second looks at the consumption of Korean cosmetic surgeries, products, and regimes through tourism and popular media. Linking both projects is her interest in the ongoing development of Asian modernities through the circulation of cross-cultural styles, objects, and narratives.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, News.

Bird la Bird – Holding Court on Class and Queer Femininity

Date: 25 October 2012, 5.00pm
Location: Western Lecture Theatre – Leeds University Business School

Bird la Bird is an artist who straddles comedy and performance art, she has been described as a “Queer Pearly Queen” and a “Haute Couture Fishwife”. Bird favours collaboration and works with a host of artists and designers to create surreal and satirical performances. Bird’s performances explore couple culture, austerity, adoption, terrorism, catholicism, class, feminism, and queer femininity.

Bird was a collaborator on The FeMuseum project, a performative archive exploring Femme legacy and lineage led by Lois Weaver. She often works with the Duckie collective and appeared in their anti-capitalist neo-panto “Copyright Christmas” at the Barbican Theatre in 2011.

Bird graces the cover of Femmes of Power by Ulrika Dahl and Del LaGrace Volcano (2009). She founded Bird Club in 2006 with Maria Rosa Young, and went on to organize Bird Pride, the UK’s first-ever Femme presence at the annual Pride march.

Bird Club was a shell breaking queer femme cabaret night which blurred the boundaries between art, politics and partying. Bird will discuss why she prefers clubs to gallery spaces.

In this “eggciting” lecture, Bird will hold forth on her favorite subject—herself—in a witty and amusing manner. She will also show documentation of recent shows—in other words, lots of images and video of herself.

You are invited to join in and ask questions, if you can get a word in edgeways.

This entry was posted in CIGS Seminar Series 2012-13, News.

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