International Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality

Internationalization@Home Event

International Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality


22 November 2016

Ghent University, Department of Languages and Cultures

Centre for Research on Culture and Gender (CRCG)

Jozef plateaustraat 22, 9000 Gent
J. Plateauzaal



The Department of Languages and Cultures of Ghent University (Gent, Belgium) is holding the yearly Internationalization @Home Event on Tuesday, November 22nd 2016. This is a one-day event.
This event’s theme is International Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality, and it is organized by the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender (CRCG) in collaboration with other research centers. It is open to academic and public audience and is meant to bring in together different perspectives on gender and sexuality from different areas, disciplines and cultures.

The event is open to public and includes coffee breaks, lunch, evening reception and dance performance.

The event is free but registration is required. Please register at:

All lectures and session are in English.


09:00-09:30 (Location: Plateauzaal corridor)



09:30-09:45 (Location: Plateauzaal)

Opening by event coordinator Dr. Ladan Rahbari (CRCG)

Welcome speech by Prof. Dr. Andreas Niehaus (Head of Department of Languages and Cultures)


09:45-10:30 (Location: Plateauzaal)

Coordinator: Dr. Chia Longman (CRCG)

Keynote speech: Mapping the Global Movement to end FGM/C in Africa

Dr. Tamsin Bradley (University of Portsmouth, UK)

Abstract: This presentation will map out the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) global push to end the practice of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C). In particular it looks at how the various components aim to link together filling evidence gaps and seeking to identify what works to finally end this brutal practice. Throughout the article we voice an urgent caution that if the numerous programmes emerging are not shaped by grassroots experiences of FGM, and specifically by local change agents, there is real danger that this immense importunity will fail. In highlighting this danger we present the viewpoint of community groups and local activists in the UK and also Sudan. We then move to present the hugely complex web of interventions that comprise the Save Sudan from FGC programme. The sheer multi-stranded nature of the programme sets alarms going. If not sufficiently coordinated and responsive to communities it simply will not work. The article considers the challenges facing activists, not least how to mobilise agents of change from the grassroots. Women from within ‘cutting’ communities do not speak with one voice or even share a common experience of FGM this makes designing successful interventions a challenge. It will issue a warning that failure to bridge communication gaps between discourses and global/national/local levels there is significant risk of alienating potential and vital community change agents.


10:30-11:00 (Location: Vergaderzaal Magnel)

Coffee break


11:00-11:45 (Location: Plateauzaal)

Keynote speech: The Economy of Silence in the Era of Declaring Gender and Sexual Rights

Dr. Rachel Spronk (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Abstract: Silence is usually understood as a negative practice in human rights discourses on gender and sexuality: it mutes disadvantaged groups and can thus be a force of suppression. While I do not argue with this harmful potentiality of silence, I also want to point out the productive force of silence. As I will show from my research in Kenya and Ghana, discretion and modesty are sometimes creative and at other times strategic means to articulate non-normative forms of gender and sexuality. The juxtaposition of both qualities brings us to a dilemma that I believe is at the heart of current discourses on gender and sexuality: on the one hand, the verbal expression of gender and/or sexuality is needed to achieve social justice while, on the other hand, it backfires onto some groups that it intends to assist. At the heart of the dilemma is a misunderstanding that certain Euro-American cultural traits are universal. For instance, “sexuality” is nothing but the invention of 19th century modern European sexology, which constructed sexuality as constituting the essential core of one’s inner self. Moreover, the focus on what can be captured in language limits the production of knowledge about gender and sexuality, as many modalities (e.g. sensation, vision, smell, touch) can hardly be translated if at all. Therefore, the central question in this paper is an epistemological one: how to study gendered and sexual world-making (rather than being)?


11:45-13:00 (Location: Vergaderzaal Magnel)

Lunch reception


13:00-14:30 (Location: Auditorium M; Auditorium O)

Two parallel seminars


Seminar One (Aud. M): Coordinator: Dr. Katrien De Graeve (CRCG)

Gender and Sexual Violence during Ethnic Wars, by Dr. Rozita Dimova (UGent)

Abstract: This panel (or session) will deal with the the creation of “permissive environment” for policies of sexual violence during war, in which specific assumptions about ethnicity, biology/genetics and gender produce the conditions for such policies. The main cases will be from the Yugoslav wars in the 90s, especially the Serbian militia’s rape campaigns in Bosnia, but we will also address the mass rapes in Rwanda in and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Sexism and the Specter of the Arab/Muslim Man: The Case of the Law against Sexism in Belgium, by Dr.  Sarah Bracke (VUB)

Abstract: This paper is part of a larger project that investigates the ways in which questions of gender, sexual difference, and sexuality in Western Europe are impacted and (re)shaped by Europe’s “Muslim question”. In the presentation I explore this question through a particular case-study: the video Femme de la Rue (2012), which documents catcalling in a migrant neighborhood in Brussels, and the ensuing public debate on sexual harassment in Belgium. This debate was haunted by the figure of the Arab/Muslim man and resulted in a new law criminalizing sexism (2014). The paper explores the redefinition of sexism as it occurs within this law and connects this shifting meaning of sexism to the “gendered governmentalization” of Islam (Amir-Moazami 2011) in Belgium.


Seminar Two (Aud. O): Coordinator: Dr. Joz Motmans (UGent)

‘Cinemancipation’: the Role of Cinema in the Empowerment of Indian Women, by Dr. Iris Vandevelde (UGent)

Abstract: This seminar will present a new project on the (potential) role of cinema in the emancipation and empowerment of women in India. A recent movement has risen amongst ‘alternative’ filmmakers to come to terms with social issues that have long been unaccepted in Indian cinema, including sexuality and abuses against women. Recent films such as Gulabi Gang (2012), Queen (2013), Angry Indian Goddesses (2015), and Parched (2015), have all come to grips with gender-related themes. These productions have found a new platform in multiplex theatres, which started to emerge in urban areas since the beginning of the 21st century. The project wants to explore the reception of these films amongst female audiences, and their potential role in the empowerment of women. It will also describe which social levels of Indian women have access to these films, especially since the films are mostly screened in multiplex theatres with ticket prices that can only be afforded by middle and upper classes. Moreover, as public spaces, Indian cinema theaters are notorious for eve teasing and women have adopted a range of strategies to react to such unwelcome behavior. However, since its advent, the multiplex (although rightly criticized for its undemocratic prices) provides a new safe environment for women to watch films in public, without the obliged company of male chaperons. In this context of changing leisure economy, now is an outstanding moment to look into female audiences in India. The research project will employ both a media ethnography approach (studying cinema-going practices) and a reception analysis (studying the reception of critical female-centered multiplex films). To get an overall picture, women of different social levels will be taken into account, as well as different cinema theatres (both multiplex cinemas and single-screen theaters). Combining these approaches, we will gain a thorough insight into female Indian audiences and the role of cinema in their emancipation.


From Deprived Street Performers to Emancipated International Artists? Changing Livelihoods of Kālbeliyā Women from Rajasthan, India, by Dr. Ayla Joncheere (UGent)

Abstract: Since the 1980s, a growing number of women of the Kālbeliyā community from Rajasthan have taken up the profession of stage dancers. In these last few decades, Kālbeliyā dance performances have gained a increasing, and by now considerable, national and international popularity. Along with this evolution, female Kālbeliyā dancers, typically young women and even unmarried girls, have rather abruptly become the main breadwinners of their extended families, and often even the financial supporters of entire, regional Kālbeliyā communities. At first sight, the emergence and viability of these new livelihoods sounds like a success story, entailing economic and social emancipation for these women. This paper, however, critically illuminates the circumstances of these sudden, unanticipated changes. Based on ethnographic research with Kālbeliyā dancers and their families, I present a more nuanced story of female public performers in India, and their bumpy road to real, socio-economic change. I illuminate the struggles and untold stories of women working outdoors – and onstage – in a typically patriarchal Indian society, and the latent dissatisfaction of their unemployed husbands and male relatives at home. As such, this paper situates itself within debates on changing livelihoods, emancipation, cultural discourses, and social transformations in a contemporary, Indian and global context.


14-30-15:00 (Location: Vergaderzaal Magnel)

Coffee break


15:00-16:15 (Location: Plateauzaal)

Panel Discussion: Challenges of Doing Research on Gender in the International Context

Coordinator: Dr. Inge Brinknam (UGent)

Participants: Dr. Carine Plancke (UGent), Drs. Susan Dierickx (VUB), Drs. Amal Miri (UGent), Drs. Lydia Namatende (UGent), Drs. Fadi Saleh (University of Gottingen)


16:15-17:30 (Location: Vergaderzaal Magnel Corridor)

Closing Reception


Indian Dance Performance by Bollylicious   (Coordinated by Dr. Ayla Joncheere)


 Event organizer and contact person:

Dr. Ladan Rahbari,