Mon20Feb202312-13:30Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent
Pseudo-autobiography and sex negativity in Kathy AckerLunch seminar
Tessel Veneboer is a PhD student in English Literature at Ghent University. She specializes in queer theory and experimental literature and is a founding member of the Sex Negativity research collective at ASCA. She is currently working on a dissertation on Kathy Acker (supported by FWO).
Kathy Acker’s pseudo-autobiographical writing of sex work challenges the sex-positive politics of écriture féminine as well as a queer politics of embodied writing. Acker’s literary work is often read as sex-positive due to her experiments with masturbatory writing, depiction of graphic sex scenes and interest in s/m relations. My dissertation argues that the avant-garde convictions of Acker’s formal innovation are closer to “sex negativity” as they reveal the structural negativity and the nonsovereignty of the subject, “exemplified in the sexual encounter” (Edelman and Berlant 2013). If sex-positive feminism asks how sexuality can be expressed and affirmed, Kathy Acker’s sex negativity lies in a distrust of knowledge of the self. The radical pessimism of Acker’s work is not directed against sex itself, but refuses to treat sex as a moral issue and instead questions the conditions and implications of self-knowledge and the autobiographical subject.
This lunch seminar will be on-campus only and it will take place at the faculty room of Blandijn (Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent). You can register sending an email at email@example.com
Thu26Jan202312- 13:30Hybrid. On campus: Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2 9000 Ghent
The Anger Turn: Towards a New Perspective on Feminist RageLunch seminar
During this lunch seminar, Sigrid Wallaert will present her research on feminist anger. In the last few years, after the peak of the #MeToo movement especially, angry women are everywhere. From women’s marches to women’s strikes, women are taking to the streets with their anger and refusing to quiet down. In my research, I take this trend as a starting point to develop the concept of an anger turn (in partial parallel with Sara Ahmed’s happiness turn). This anger turn is characterised by a sudden prominence of anger in the public eye on four main fronts: publishing, media, academia, and politics. However, there is something special about this anger. I outline the concept of feminist anger as a type of activist anger with feminist goals and purposes. This anger is forward-looking, collective, and potentially apt, and should therefore be seriously considered for its communicative value.
Sigrid Wallaert is a PhD researcher in philosophy at Ghent University and FWO Flanders. She holds a master’s and research master’s degree in philosophy. In her PhD project, she is delineating feminist anger as a potentially productive concept, and examining what its value can be through the framework of epistemic injustice. Get to know more about the speaker on her website: www.sigridwallaert.com
Follow the seminar:
On-campus: Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2
Online: interested participants can register and join on Microsoft Teams
Mon12Dec202212-13:30Hybrid. On campus: Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2 9000 Ghent
CANCELLED | Tit-for-Tat Media and the Hong Kong MeltdownLunch seminar
In this talk, Katrien Jacobs will discuss a polarization in social media discourses and sexual politics in the field of online activism. Political activists across the political spectrum are using online visual cultures as “extreme speech” to target each other and as a mechanism of emotional release and social cohesion. The talk will zoom in on the role of sex-focused visuals used during the Hong Kong Anti-Extradition movement of 2019 and coinciding with “a highly radicalized “laam chau” doctrine. (“If we burn, you will burn with us”). It will outline the wider techno-political contexts of these visuals and also make a plea for archiving and studying them despite their highly contentious and “rubbish-like” nature. It will discuss research methods of “historicizing” and “humanizing” this imagery by positioning them as catalysts for radicalized movements, geopolitical transformations and sexual well-being. At the same time, it will ponder a shift in a researcher’s methods of online ethnography from open and affective encounters or observations towards a cautious handling of highly polarized and politicized materials.
About the speaker:
Katrien Jacobs is adjunct associate professor and research associate at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Ghent University. She is leading scholar of sexuality and gender studies alongside emerging digital cultures and social movements. Her book “Tit-for-Tat Media: The Contentious Bodies and Sex Imagery of Political Activism” was published by Routledge in June 2022. Her work can be found at www.katrienjacobs.com
Follow the seminar:
Online: interested participants can register and join on Microsoft Teams
On-campus: Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2
Thu08Dec20229 am - 6 pm Campus Boekentoren, Building Blandijn, Faculty Room, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent
Symposium "Decolonizing Contemporary Women’s Spirituality" (2022)
Invited speakers: Prof. Amanda Lucia (University of California-Riverside), Dr. Kavita Maya (University College London) and Dr. Cassandra Ellerbe (Bard College Berlin)
The Wisdom of the Universe by Christi Belcourt, 2014
Mon21Nov202212-13:30Hybrid. On campus: Faculteitszaal, Blandijnberg 2 9000 Ghent
Incomplete lives: Islamophobia in Belgium as the governance of Muslim subjectivities and restriction of life aspirationsLunch seminarIn this lunch seminar, An Van Raemdonck will present her research on experiences of racism and Islamophobia among Muslim minorities in Belgium. While phenomena of discrimination have been widely documented, in-depth qualitative research remains scarce. Findings are based on forty semi-structured interviews conducted between 2020-2021 with Belgian Muslims who are second and third-generation immigrants. Education appears as a prime domain where interviewees experience discrimination and racism, resulting in the restriction of life aspirations. The problematization of Muslim subjectivity is discussed through women’s understandings of job acceptance on the condition of hijab removal as a rejection of the (Muslim) self. Respondents’ prospects of the future are therefore afflicted and some express the desire to leave Belgium in search of better life conditions. This analysis refines our understanding of the two main rationales of Islamophobia as governmentality – assimilation and separation – with the intertwined dimensions of governance of Muslim subjectivity and restriction of life aspirations.An Van Raemdonck is postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender. Her current research project focuses on Islamic ethics, Islamic conviviality and the ethics of living together in diversity.The seminar is hybrid. You can follow on campus or online. Please register here.
Confronting the unspoken in black women’s sexuality in contemporary South Africa by Memory MphaphuliLunch seminar
Within the context of black families, candid talks about women’s sexuality continue to be restricted, with the exception of pithy exhortations that aim to scare young women from experimenting sexually. Many other aspects of sexuality are supressed through various discursive strategies. By drawing upon the narratives of the lived experiences of two generational cohorts of black women (between the ages of 20-30 and 40-62), this study identified some of the discourses that black mothers and their daughters use to shape their understanding of sexuality in contemporary South Africa. Findings show that silence and restrictions characterise the way knowledge about sexuality is communicated to women in different age groups. Importantly, insights from these black women show that female sexuality continues to be heavily influenced by traditional ideas about respect, marriage, safe sex and diseases. Collectively, the narratives revealed that mothers and their daughters simply do not have the words to encourage a positive expression of sexuality, that is, a language to talk affirmatively about sexuality. Young women especially end up holding evasive and ambivalent views about their sexuality, with a decreased sense of sexual self-awareness and agency.
Memory is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at Ghent University. She identifies herself as a feminist sociologist who is intrigued by different forms of social inequalities that are linked with gender and (hetero)sexuality specifically. She is most interested in studying how gender and sexuality intersect with other social phenomena such as race and class.
Family planning and the 'global political economy of fertility': The case of Italy (1945-1975); by Maud BrackeLunch seminar
he seminar investigates the Italian 'family planning' movement - its ideologies, programmes and impacts - as a case study illustrating the global interconnectedness of discourses of sexual modernisation in the early Cold War era. While the Italian FP movement was highly impactful in campaigning for the legalisation of birth control (1971), its ideology, strongly influenced by transnational networks advocating population control in the Global South, was marked by a consistent social hierarchisation of reproductive bodies. The case study forms part of a AHRC Leadership Fellowship project on the emergence of notions of reproductive rights in Europe in the global context (1945-1995).
Maud is a Reader in Modern European History at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and specialises in social, political and gender history of Europe after 1945. She holds a PhD from the EUI Florence and has published on European second-wave feminism, 1968, women and work, West European communism in the Cold War. She leads Glasgow's Centre for Gender History.
Gender, Sexuality and Young People’s Social Media Practices; by Burcu KorkmazerLunch seminar
Burcu is a doctoral scholar at the Centre for Cinema and Media Studies at Ghent University. Her research focuses on how social media such as Instagram and Snapchat are affecting the discourses, media practices and identity politics of young people. Powerful identity axes such as gender, ethnicity, sexuality and religiosity are discussed and studied in relation to sensitive topics as sexual morality, diversity and gendered visibility within digital youth cultures.
Mon12Apr202112:00 - 13:00Zoom
Gender, relationships and sexuality. An empirical study of the lived experiences of young catholic women; by Eline HuygensLunch seminarIn this brown bag seminar, Eline Huygens will present her current work in progress as part of her PhD project entitled ‘Gender, relationships, and sexuality. An empirical study on the lived experiences of young Catholic women’. In particular she will talk about the entanglement of relationships and religiosity in Catholic women’s lives.Eline is a doctoral researcher and teaching assistant at Ghent University, involved in the linking course and master programme Gender and Diversity, and member of the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender. In her doctoral research, she investigates how religion shapes the experiences and practices of Roman Catholic women pertaining to relationships and sexuality.
Instagrammable FemininitiesLunch seminar
Instagrammable Femininities: exploring the gender politics of self-representations on Instagram and women’s magazines
In this brown bag seminar, Sofia P. Caldeira will present her research. She recently successfully defended her PhD thesis in Communication Sciences (Ghent University) with the title ‘Instagrammable Femininities: exploring the gender politics of self-representations on Instagram and women’s magazines’.
Sofia is a member of the Centre for Cinema and Media Studies (CIMS) at Ghent University, Belgium. Her research focuses primarily on social media, self-representation practices, politics of gender representation, and feminist media studies.
Sun06Dec2020Universitair Ziekenhuis Gent
Thu26Nov20208:00 pmUniversitair Ziekenhuis Gent
Re-enchanting the world with Silvia Federici
Ghent University, Kunsthal Ghent and Kunstencentrum Vooruit join forces to host a multiple day event with feminist activist, writer and teacher Silvia Federici, renowned for her research and activism at the intersection of women’s, anti-capitalist, and anti-colonial struggles. Silvia Federici will join online while we will gather physically at Vooruit and Kunsthal Gent.
Monday 26 October: Film Screening (TBA) selected by Silvia Federici
Art Cinema OFFoff, 20:00
Introduction by Omar Jabary Salamanca (ULB)
Wednesday 28 October: Public lecture by Silvia Federici
Rethinking and restructuring social reproduction in times of racist violence and global epidemic
Lecture followed by conversation with Ida Dequeecker (BOEH, Furia) and Benedikte Zitouni (UCL, Saint-Louis Bruxelles). Chaired by Kopano Maroga, Vooruit
The current global crisis has shown that vast processes of change will be needed to repair the broken infrastructures and address the social inequalities that are at the origin of the pan- demic. Silvia Federici argues that the coming together of a broad range of struggles over healthcare, agriculture and food produc- tion, environmental justice and care work, as well as the rejec- tion of all forms of racism and xenophobia are the condition not just for a return to 'normality', but for the transformation of the crisis into an opportunity for change.
Silvia Federici will be present online, discussants and audience gather at Vooruit. The event will be streamed live.
Thursday 29 October: Workshop: Re-enchanting the world with Silvia Federici
Kunsthal Gent, 17:00 - midnight
Intimate workshop with activists, artists and academics.
As our homes are transforming into permanent zoom-offices and home-schooling units, there is a politics of labour emerging from the pandemic that deepens historic inequalities of class, race and gender. Starting from two cases in Belgium (e.g. on the in/ outsourcing of cleaners and on the enclosures of the beach), we aim to collectively create a pamphlet with Silvia that will record and respond to the urgent questions of this moment of global crisis and its opportunities for a new commons.
Silvia Federici will be present online, workshop participants gather in situ at Kunsthal Gent.
Jesse Jones, Kunsthal Gent, Ghent University (Omar Jabary Salamanca, Julie Carlier and Siggie Vertommen)
Online Symposium: “Gender & Diversity in Contemporary Yoga”
This one-day symposium brings together scholars investigating yoga and other body-mind-spirit practices from a critical gender and diversity perspective.
Research has shown how Yoga in the contemporary West often caters for members of the white, urban middle-class, among which a majority of women, who seek a healthy life-style, relief from a stressful professional environment and/or personal development. Critical scholarship has pointed out the compliance of this kind of healthist and individual-oriented practices with neoliberal culture and its demands for self-management and self-optimization. Yet, from an intersectional perspective, feminist and critical race scholars have denounced the restrictive and exclusivist health and beauty ideals yoga upholds with the typical yogi being young, white, slim, sexy and able-bodied.
Expanding on this research, this symposium presents empirical, qualitative studies that investigate these dynamics in contemporary Western yoga or other body-mind-spirit settings and/or explore diverse forms of practice and resistance. Indeed, phenomenological approaches have uncovered how yoga, by developing inner awareness and approaching the body as one’s sanctuary, can be a means for acting against consumerist and restrictive (female) body-objectification. Moreover, initiatives are investigated that diverge from neoliberal exclusivist yoga and other BMS practices such as activist yoga, donation-based yoga, yoga or mindfulness for specific groups (for instance, older women, disabled people, migrant or refugee communities, etc.).
The symposium deals with the European context, which, from a gender & diversity perspective, remains understudied compared to North-America. Attention is also given to religion/spirituality, an often forgotten dimension in intersectional research which is particularly useful for interrogating the liberatory potential of body-mind-spirit practices in contemporary Europe’s post-secular climate.
Please register if you wish to attend by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Carine Plancke and Prof. Dr. Chia Longman
09:00-09:10: Opening words by Prof. Dr. Chia Longman (University of Ghent)
09:15: 10:15: Asanas, aspirations and agency. attracting women to yoga — Vignettes from Post-War Germany and their impact for critical yoga studies
Lecture by Prof. Dr. Beatrix Hauser (University of Bremen)
10:20-11:20: Is yoga a middle-class girl thing? Questioning hegemonic portraits of yoga practitioners
Lecture by Prof. Dr. Maria del Mar Griera (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona)
11:25-12:25: ”I’m going to be honest and … tell you that I feel like my emotions are all over the place right now”: the work of doing aesthetic and emotional labour in contemporary yoga teaching
Lecture by Dr. Jennifer Lea (University of Exeter)
14:00-15:30: Panel 1: Activism, feminism and inclusion in/through yoga
Moderator: Prof. Dr. Ladan Rahbari (University of Amsterdam)
Ella Poutiainen (University of Turku): Feminism, women's spirituality and social change
Dr. Cassandra Ellerbe (Bard College Berlin): Kemetic Yoga and healing circles as a form of resistance for BIPOC women in Germany
Prof. Dr. Esther Sanchez-Pardo (University of Madrid): Yoga for educators: Affect and accountability in a culturally diverse environment
Dr. Caroline Nizard (University of Lausanne): Representations and paradoxes of modern yoga (well-being, sport and spirituality)
15:45-17:15: Panel 2: The politics and spirituality of self-care practices
Moderator: Eline Huygens (University of Ghent)
Gemma Lucas (University of Exeter): The enactment of ‘the (gendered) natural’ within spiritual assemblages
Dr. Aliette Lambert (University of Exeter) The liberatory potential of Tantra yoga
Prof. Dr. Sarah De Mul (Open University Netherlands): Tango as a Matter of Care in Neoliberal Brussels
Emanuela Mangiarotti (University of Genoa): Embodying self-care: Women in yoga
Prof. Dr. Beatrix Hauser (University of Bremen): Attracting Women to Yoga — Vignettes from Post-War Germany and their Impact for Critical Yoga Studies
Today yoga is one of the major physical regimes practiced by women. This popularity is usually linked to recent concerns about self-identity, holistic health and spiritual growth. However, from a critical point of view it is not clear whether and how the declared power of yoga indeed is empowering, particularly in a wider social sense — for women, and other groups of yoga practitioners.
Following the scholarship on the history of modern postural yoga, today’s bodily practice resulted from a transcultural multidirectional process of adopting, reframing and modifying ideas and body techniques, beginning in the late 19th century (see De Michelis, Alter, Singleton). In the course of this, a male-oriented revival of pre-modern posture (āsana) practice turned into a highly commoditized discipline, largely associated with softness and femininity. The term yoga became a floating signifier used in several interconnected discourses for a variety of ideas and practices.
In this key note I focus on a period that is, I argue, crucial for understanding present-day narratives on yoga and its potentially liberating effects for women: the 1950s. Focussing on early yoga manuals in German language that address female practitioners in particular, I explore how yoga was introduced to women: Why should women engage with yoga? What did it offer in this post-war environment? What did yoga entail? What were the rationales, ethics and promises involved? What did yoga possibly replace?
Based on the analysis of primary sources and ethnohistorical contextualization I will identify three intermingled discursive strands:
- an emphasis on female grace and beauty, shared with (free-standing, rhythmic) gymnastics;
- New Thought arguments, re-connecting to earlier discourses on body culture (Körperkultur) and Couéism;
- a dismissal of the earlier (German) occultist view on hatha yoga and its reframing as nondenominational system of physical exercises.
I show that these discursive strands opened up an ambigious cultural space of selftransformation, and encountered women (resp. Trümmerfrauen) facing both the limitations and renewed restrictions of the post-war era. In conclusion I shall offer some thoughts on the ways in that this discursive space of self-transformation has changed in the present, and what we can learn for understanding and exploring recent attempts to spread yoga.
Prof. dr. Maria del Mar Griera (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona): Is yoga a middle-class girl thing? Questioning hegemonic portraits of yoga practitioners
Most of the empirical research on yoga has focused on white middle-class, middle-aged women living in Europe and the US. In most of these accounts, the practice of yoga has been portrayed as embedded in a wellness regime promoting a soft spirituality and a healthy life-style aimed at permanent self-optimization. Yoga, thus, has been read as a neoliberal technique used in an instrumental fashion. However, this portrait only tells one side of the story. Contemporary yoga scenarios are far more complex. Drawing on an intensive fieldwork among kundalini yoga students in two male prison in the outskirts of Barcelona, this presentation has a two-fold aim: first, to explore the ways in which yoga find its place in an environment dominated by working-class men (prisons) and contribute to transforming hegemonic conceptions of masculinity among inmates. Second, to examine the role of the volunteers that teach yoga in penitentiary institutions, and the practice of “karma yoga” as promoting a politics of personal and social emancipation. The presentation will end up calling for a more nuanced account on yoga practices that allow for a better understanding of the articulations between the practice of yoga and aspirations for social and personal transformation.
Dr. Jennifer Lea (University of Exeter): ”I’m going to be honest and … tell you that I feel like my emotions are all over the place right now”: The work of doing aesthetic and emotional labour in contemporary yoga teaching.
This presentation draws on my recent research which has approached yoga through the lens of work. Through in-depth interviews carried out with yoga teachers in the South West of England, the research looks at the kinds of work that yoga teachers do, as well as the impacts of this work on them as workers. Here I will focus on the aesthetic and emotional labour carried out by teachers, both in and out of the yoga studio. Firstly, I will outline what these traditionally feminized forms of labour (see Hothschild 2012, Mears 2014) look like in the field of yoga teaching. To follow, I will look at the various impacts of doing this kind of work – with particular focus on how the teachers variously experience managing the look and feel of their bodies, and how they understand yoga itself to mediate the (broadly negatively conceptualized) effects of doing this aesthetic and emotional labour. To conclude, I will offer some thoughts about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the work that yoga teachers are doing.
Panel 1: Activism, feminism and inclusion in/through yoga
Ella Poutiainen (University of Turku): Feminism, women's spirituality and social change
My research deals with different practices of holistic spirituality that are aimed at women and that reflect – implicitly or explicitly – feminist discourses and practices. Feminist undertones are increasing within the field of women's spirituality, that often stress themes of womens empowerment and societal change. However, the intersections and tensions between contemporary feminisms and the women-dominated practices of holistic spirituality are puzzling. On one side, inspite of seemingly feminist agendas within practices of women's spirituality, an explicit identification with feminism is often vague or lacking. Sometimes there's even a suspicious or indifferent attitude towards the F word. On the other side, Western feminism has been accused of secular biases and an indifference toward religion. Indeed, New Age has been criticised by feminists for being essentialist and irrational, and thus undermining the advantages made by feminism. Yet studies have shown that along the secularisation of Western societies women, compared to men, are more drawn to religiosity in general and practices of holistic spirituality in particular. The extent to which 21st century Western women turn to spirituality for empowerment and societal change makes it a critical issue for feminists. Hence, I'm interested in the multilple ways that feminism and practices of women's spirituality stick to and repel each other in our contemporary postsecular condition. I do ethnographic research within the fields of women's yoga, ayurveda, neoshamanism and other New Age inspired spiritual practices both in Finnish and Euro- American contexts. Through the lens of feminist new materialism and affect theory I explore how women's spiritual practices stretch the understanding of political agency and can serve as a site for political subjectivity.
Dr. Cassandra Ellerbe (Bard College Berlin): Kemetic Yoga and Healing Circles as a Form of Resistance for BIPOC1 Women in Germany
Many BIPOC womxn2 living in Germany find themselves entangled daily within the intersections of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. The manifestation of these intersections often creates stress levels, which over time, force some members of this group into a constant psychological and physical “fight or flight” mode and “dis-ease”. In recent years many members of this group living in the city of Berlin have come to look to the words of the Black lesbian warrior poet Audre Lorde “Caring for myself is not self-indulgent, it is self-preservation, and is a political act of warfare“3 not only as a source of inspiration, but also as a form of resistance. My observation of BIPOC groups on Instagram and Facebook indicate that the practice of Yoga along with an array of other self-care practices are now becoming very closely linked with activism and “out – loud” resistance. However, the dominance of whites within the world of Hatha Yoga in Germany, has prompted many BIPOC womxn to discover the practice of Kemetic Yoga4 and participate in BIPOC womxn only healing circles, whilst creating safe and empowering spaces for themselves. With the assistance of multi-sited ethnography (Marcus 1995) and intersectional theory (Crenshaw 1989), I seek to examine how some individuals of this group, especially in the city of Berlin are utilising Kemetic Yoga and BIPOC womxn exclusive healing circles to not only practice self-care, but also as a “political act of warfare”.
1 BIPOC is the acronym for Black, indigenous People of Colour.
2 I utilize the spelling of the term “womxn” to include transgender women identified persons.
3 Audre Lorde (1988).
4 Kemetic Yoga is a form of Yoga that originated in ancient Egypt. Kemet is the ancient Egyptian name of Egypt.
Prof. Dr. Esther Sanchez-Pardo (University of Madrid): Yoga for Educators: Affect and Accountability in a Culturally Diverse Environment
With a long history of practice in the West and fitting perfectly within the routine habits of an urban, middle-class society seeking wellness, comfort and a holistic discipline to assuage the uncertainties and stress disorders assailing us, yoga has become a priority for a growing number of people. Even if one does not practice, it is hard not to notice the many references to yoga that appear daily in popular culture. This increasing familiarity with yoga and its benefits in so many domains, has led more and more institutions and educators to consider the advantages of its inclusion within the regular teachers’ training curricula at present.
This paper aims at showing to what extent, within the frame of teachers’ training for the culturally diverse classroom -where different identities, nationalities, ethnicities and religions co-exist-, yoga is a much needed source of knowledge and practice in mobilizing affect and accountability among students to create a safe and inclusive atmosphere based on equality and respectful of differences. This paper is part on an ongoing project within my teaching for the last three years within the MA programs in Teacher Training, and Gender Studies at U. Complutense. The inclusion of specific modules on yoga with an emphasis on intersectional feminism has brought about a huge interest in questions of vulnerability, social exclusion, intolerance and an active critique on the regimes of invisibility (B. Latour 2010) operating in our society. An intersectionally-inflected yoga practice has brought about a very fruitful, research oriented and inquisitive class dynamics.
Issues such as understanding and living fully the mind-body symbiosis, strengthening our inner core, making progress into self-knowledge, and delving into meditation for peaceful living, count among the prominent successful outcomes of yoga training. It is my contention that other crucial issues such as accountability have not been sufficiently addressed. Drawing from Judith Butler’s reflection on accountability (2005) within the context of ethical life, and the moral self’s complicity with violence, and a growing concern in yoga-oriented education for matters moving from the individual to the social world (Berila et al eds. 2016, Spinazzola 2011), this paper aims at discussing how by raising awareness on differences, and mobilizing affect in the classroom, one can work toward an inclusive, equity pedagogy with recourse to yoga and intersectionality.
Dr. Caroline Nizard (Lausanne University): Representations and paradoxes of modern yoga (well-being, sport and spirituality)
Thanks to sixty semi-directive interviews conducted with yoga practitioners and/or teachers and participant observations in French Switzerland, France and India, between 2013 and 2018, this proposal wishes, first, to question the social characteristics of modern yoga practitioners, and second, to compare some visible aspects of yoga, particularly around representations linked to well-being, spirituality, aesthetics, and the invisible aspects of reality experienced, and observed in the field.
Like Hoyez (2012), Newcombe (2017), my research (2019) has shown specific social characteristics of yoga practitioners. It is a gendered activity, mainly done by female, with an average age around 40 years old and primarily belonging to higher social categories. In India, the percentage of men was more important on my fields. However, in recent years, in France and Switzerland, yoga has become increasingly popular and attracts people from more diverse social backgrounds, men and younger people. The hypothesis explaining this change could be (a) a growing sportivization, (b) a stronger craze for wellness practices, (c) the use of new technologies (internet, applications).
Secondly, I would like to examine three paradoxes that run through the representations, discourses and practices of "modern yoga" (De Michelis, 2003):
- The question of aesthetics versus the “respect of the body of each person” defended as a value of yoga (i.e. “curvy yoga”
- Non-competition versus a growing sportivization in sports halls in France or Switzerland or during yoga championships in India.
- The will to secularize the practices and at the same time to claim a "spiritual quest". Yoga practitioners are often affiliated to new religious movements or New Age practices, yet my fields do not fit with these definitions.
Most of the teachers and practitioners I met criticized the new modalities of mainstream yoga (commercialization, performance, aesthetics, well-being). However, the observation of practices shows that these same actors appropriate these representations.
Panel 2: The politics and spirituality of self-care practices
Prof. Dr. Sarah De Mul (Open University Netherlands): Tango as a Matter of Care in Neoliberal Brussels
An oft-cited symbol of Argentine national identity, tango’s allure endures for practitioners worldwide. Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, Savigliano (1995) notably demonstrated tango’s historical and contemporary imbrication in struggles around ethnicity, race, labour, and sex. Recent studies have addressed the eroticized, sexualized and exoticist practice and image of tango dancing and also explored how the heteronormativity, notions of ‘exoticism’ and hierarchies of sexuality and gender embodied in tango dancing are increasingly challenged (e.g. Davis 2015).
In line with these recent strands of feminist and postcolonial scholarship of tango, I will discuss contemporary engagements with tango dancing in the Western European neoliberal metropolis of Brussels by situating these within debates regarding the complicities and resistance of mind-spirit practices within global neoliberal culture. More specifically, I will propose to view tango as a matter of “care”, which is not understood as "a feel-good attitude," but rather—referring to the work of Maria Puig de la Bellacasa—through dimensions of affect/affection, labour/work, and ethics/politics. I will analyse representations of tango as a matter of care in three different texts: a collection of tango photography, Claire Delville’s short story ‘Dernier tango à Bruxelles’, and testimonials of tango dancers. In so doing I hope to offer new insights into the transnational negotiation of body mind practices such as tango dancing, its critiques and its role in the shaping of (post)modern cosmopolitan lifestyles. In particular, my aim is to expose how tango dancers in brussels use an aresenal of corporeal tactics to manage life and pain under neoliberalism though selfcare and care for others.
Dr. Aliette Lambert (University of Exeter): The liberatory potential of Tantra yoga
This exploratory ethnography of a yoga centre in southwest England grounded in a Tantrik tradition aims to explore potential correctives to dominant neoliberal capitalist subjectivities, asking: how can liberatory Tantrik practices become embodied and embedded into western ways of being? Many studies have explored the neoliberal co-optation of an aerobic type of postural yoga pervasive in the west – catering to individualist ‘self-projects’ of predominately white/western/upper or middle class and able-bodied women. But few examine practices of resistance to a neoliberal-capitalist regime of truth that emerge organically from ‘Yoga’ as it is arguably meant to be experienced: as a spiritual practice where the individual, drawing on techniques including but not limited to asana (postures), works towards connecting to all-pervasive Conscious awareness (cit-sakti). This is the focus of teaching at the Yoga centre, whose female director teaches processes of revitalising and re-establishing the connection to the self, others, phenomenological world and spirit, from which we are estranged in a neoliberal-capitalist system. Where non-dual Śaiva Tantricism entreats individuals to identify with absolute Consciousness, neoliberal thought asks individuals to identify largely with their possessions, positions, and other objects in the material world, creating ‘contraction’, or in Marxist terms ‘alienation’, from the True self (consciousness from which we all manifest). The three ‘impurities’ (malas) in the Tantrik perspective read like the three tenets of neoliberalism: the impurity of individuality (ānava-mala); the impurity of differentiation (māyīya-mala); and the impurity of action (karma-mala). Significantly, whereas neoliberal-capitalism propagates patriarchal tradition and avers ‘masculine’ traits, Tantrik tradition is grounded in a divine dance of masculine and feminine powers, with arguably a greater focus on the latter. Reflecting on initial findings, this project demonstrates how liberatory practices emanating from Tantra can create a more diverse and accepting form of ‘western’ yoga that realises a liberatory potential and works towards a more just society.
Gemma Lucas (University of Exeter): The enactment of ‘the (gendered) natural’ within spiritual assemblages
This paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork at a yoga studio in the North of England. I focus on my participation within a ‘Red Tent Circle’ held within this studio. ‘Red Tent Circles’ are New Age spiritual practices (Longman, 2018) which, I suggest, invite a conscious entangling of self, nature and ‘divine femininity’ in a particularly revealing example of what Gregory (2016) calls a ‘spiritual assemblage’. In this, the borders of human, nonhuman and intangible life become porous in the participant’s quest to learn a new “way or mode of relating to the self” (Ibid.: 239). I will extend Gregory’s concept to consider which forms of life beyond the human are privileged within New Age spiritual assemblages, arguing they enact a construction of the ‘natural’ that intersects with gender. I consider the potential for this enactment of ‘the (gendered) natural’ to both challenge dualistic conceptions that historically oppressed women and other marginalised groups and to foster regressive gendered idea(l)s which affiliate ‘Real’ womanhood with ‘nature’. I then consider how this ‘(gendered) natural’ similarly emerged in other ways within the materials, ideas, practices, and discourses of the yoga studio and the impact this had on my participants’ experience of their gendered selves.
Dr. Emanuela Mangiarotti (University of Genoa): Embodying self-care: Women in yoga
The practice of yoga has grown worldwide and has been increasingly associated with individ-ual and communal empowerment, self-care and social change. Yet, a growing body of research in-tersecting feminist and critical yoga studies shows how the Western yoga scene is entangled with relations of privilege and marginality across gender, race, sexuality, class and body-size. Issues of accessibility, cultural appropriation, social control, and (re)marginalisation of certain groups and communities are beginning to haunt the yoga community, especially in contexts that claim a yogic ethics of self and collective care. Based on my fieldwork in Italy, this contribution discusses how, in the realm of neoliberal precarity, the yoga industry offers practitioners a life regime of, experienced by, and inscribed in the body that is meant to transcend physiological boundaries and expand indi-vidual and collective awareness. Thus, yoga configures a politics of the body that moulds a new ex-istential framework for the socially embodied self. In this context, women and specific notions of womanhood are key to a promise of wellness, healing and self-realisation that materialises white, cisgender, moneyed, slender female practitioners as embodiments of the proper way to self-care and ethical living. Relying on a feminist notion of self-care, the contribution is particularly concerned with how women – as the majority of practitioners – get caught up in, contribute to mould or active-ly challenge relations of privilege and marginality, as the yoga industry provides a repertoire of practices that adhere to and reproduce an oppressive feminine norm.
Wed16Sep2020Fri18Sep202010:00 amBlandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent, room 110.079 (first floor)
Ethnographic Research Seminar 2020
Research Ethics in Ethnography
Over the last decade there has been an increasing ethical regulation of social and humanities research. While this tendency has been applauded, the bureaucratisation of research ethics has been subject to criticism, including for its propensity to stifle participation-based methodologies and for its inability to take into account the complexities that arise in ethnographic research. This course aims to explore the specific ethical issues that arise in the conduct of ethnographic research, how to overcome them, and how to develop a more reflexive and relational ethics approach.
Topic of the course
Ethnographic research is often thought to be in tension with institutional research ethics protocols, which have often been designed from a model of science as separate from social activity and politics. The complex field relationships that ethnographic participant observation or creative participatory methods produce and the impossibility of anticipating all ethical issues that will arise when using interpretive ethnographic methodologies, make the writing of ethical self-assessment reports particularly challenging for ethnographers. This three-days intensive course aims to explore this tensed relationship and help junior researchers overcome the difficulties in designing their research projects in a manner that meets institutional ethical standards, yet that also takes into account ethical issues that may be overlooked by ethical boards. The course aims to increase insight in the complexity of ethical issues that may arise in ethnographic research with regard to recruitment, consent, confidentiality and potential adverse effects of research or misuse of research results.
Objectives of the seminar
Through lectures and practical workshops, the research seminar aims to stimulate reflection on (1) how to overcome the tension between the requirements of institutional ethical boards and the specificities of ethnographic research, and (2) how to design a research ethics that moves beyond the shortcomings of institutional ethical protocols.
After completion of the course, participants:
- will be better informed about ethical requirements and data protection obligations and how they affect ethnographic research practice.
- will be able to more adequately identify ethical issues in all phases of doing ethnographic research.
- will be able to more critically reflect on the ethical issues that arise in ethnographic research, in particular in relation to unequal and shifting power relations in the field and in relation to the effects of research.
- will be stimulated to develop a strong ethical framework to guide research and practice that takes into account relational processes and power dynamics.
- will be stimulated to adopt a reflexive engagement with issues of recruitment, (continued) informed consent, privacy protection, data management, categorization, potential adverse effects of research or misuse of research results.
- will have improved their skills in writing about the specific ethical issues in ethical self-assessment reports or in the ethics section of their dissertation (or papers on the topic).
Info and registration
This research seminar is disciplinary in focus and offered to PhD students of all universities, yet preference will be given to students from Ghent University, Leuven University and VUB. All students can receive a ‘proof of successful participation’, which can be recognized by their home PhD programme.
Registration by sending an email to: Nika.Looman@UGent.be before August 15th 2020. IPlease include your name, affiliation, the doctoral school you are a member of, and a brief description of your research and of your motivation for participating in this course. The organising committee will select students based on who they think would benefit most from participating in the research seminar.
The maximum number of participants is 20 students.
Venue: Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent, room 110.079 (first floor)
If the research seminar cannot take place due to the corona regulations, it will be postponed to a later date. Registered participants will be notified if this would occur.
Online participation in lectures
The lectures by Rachel Spronk, Jacinthe Mazzocchetti and Rahil Roodsaz in the morning part of the ERS programme will be accessible through Zoom for everyone that is interested. If you would like to join, please send an e-mail to Sara De Vuyst (S.DeVuyst@ugent.be) and you will receive a link and the password to join.
DAY 1 - 16 SEPTEMBER 2020
10:00-12:00: Lecture 1: Ambitions and ambiguities of ethical ethnography (location: room 110.079)
Prof. Dr. Rachel Spronk (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Chair: Prof. Dr. Steven Van Wolputte (SMEC, Social and Societal Ethics Committee, Leuven University)
12:00-13:00: Lunch break
13:00-14:30: Workshop 1: GDPR and ethnography (location: room 110.079)
How to bring your research in sync with the GDPR requirements (such as data minimization, explicit consent and data governance)?
Workshop teachers: Dr. Marjan Moris (Expeditions vzw) & Raf Jespers (Just Lawyers)
15:00-17:30: Closed master class & workshop 2 (location: room 110.079)
A: Closed master class with Prof. Dr. Rachel Spronk (only for the team members of the ERC project LiLI)
B: Workshop 2: Film screening & discussion: ‘Fighting for the right to housing in Bucharest’ by Michele Lancione. – ethical issues and dilemmas in activist urban ethnographic research.
Workshop teacher: Prof. Dr. Karel Arnaut (Leuven University)
CANCELLED DAY 2 - 17 SEPTEMBER 2020
10:00-12:00: Lecture 2: The ethics of ethnographic fieldwork in the context of war against migrants (location: room 110.079)
Prof. Dr. Jacinthe Mazzocchetti (UCLouvain):
Chair: Prof. Dr. Gily Coene (VUB)
12:00-13:00: Lunch break
13:00-14:30: Workshop 3: Ethnography and the unexpected (location: room 110.079)
How to handle unexpected results, and newly arising questions in ethnographic research? How to ethically and effectively manage and cope with possible unintended impact of research on the participants and/or the researcher? What to do when during the research incidental sensitive findings come up such as (sexual) abuse, domestic violence, illegal activities, etc.?
Workshop teachers: Prof. Dr. Ine Lietaert (Ghent University/UNU-CRIS) and Prof. Dr. Katrien De Graeve (Ghent University)
15:00-17:30: Master class 1: Doing research in times of growing extreme-right anti-gender and anti-migration forces in society (location: room 110.079)
by Prof. Dr. Jacinthe Mazzocchetti
How to intervene in the debates? How to prevent potential misuse of research results by extreme-right groups? How to deal with attacks by internet trolls or physical threats and intimidation?
DAY 3 - 18 SEPTEMBER 2020
10:00-12:00: Lecture 3: An ethnographic attempt to address and de-essentialise difference and polyamory in the Netherlands (location: room 110.079)
Dr. Rahil Roodsaz (University of Amsterdam)
Chair: Prof. Dr. Aymon Kreil (Ghent University)
12:00-13:00: Lunch break
13:00-14:00: Workshop 4: Ethnography and data (location: room 110.079)
What is data in ethnographic fieldwork? How to deal with ethnographic data in an ethical manner? And what does this mean for data management?
Workshop teacher: Dr. Marjan Moris (Expeditions vzw)
14:30-16:30: Master class 2: (Un)doing difference and universality (location: room 110.079)
by Dr. Rahil Roodsaz
How to avoid reproducing difference by tracing practices of difference-making? How to engage with values of transparency and honesty as a researcher when doing fieldwork?
- The students prepare reading assignments for all lectures (two to four articles or book chapter per lecture, chosen by the lecturers);
- They prepare questions for the lectures’ Q&A rounds;
- Dependent on their specific needs, and using insights gained from the readings, students write a reflection on their ethical self-assessment report or a paper about research ethics that can serve as the foundation for a thesis chapter or paper. This text will serve as the basis for discussion in the master classes and can also be used in the workshops if applicable. The text should be submitted one week before the start of the seminar and will be distributed to all lecturers and workshop teachers.
- 100% attendance
- Active participation during lectures, masterclasses and workshops
Prof. Dr. Katrien De Graeve, CRCG, faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent University
Organizing & scientific committee
Dr. Valerie De Craene
Dr. Sara De Vuyst
Dra. Nika Looman
Dra. Kyla Robinson
Dr. Carine Plancke
Prof. dr. Ine Lietaert
Dr. Sigrid Vertommen
Prof. Dr. Karel Arnaut
Dra. Elsemieke Van Osch
Dr. Susan Dierickx
Mon16Mar202012:00 pmCampus Boekentoren, Building Blandijn, Room 120.025, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent (second floor)
LGBTQ+ rights in Cuba and Latin America by Teresa Fernández González (University of Sassari) - CanceledLunch seminar
Teresa de Jesús Fernández was teacher at the Faculties of Arts and Philosophy and Foreign Languages and Literatures, of the University of Sassari, Sardinia. She is now a leading activist of the LGTBI community, and currently works as an external collaborator of Cenesex, as National Coordinator of the network of lesbian and bisexual women of this institution. In 1986 she won the David Essay Prize, UNEAC. In 2019 she translated the book “Femminielli. Corpo, Genere, Cultura” from Eugenio Zito and Paolo Valerio, as well as a book of interviews with lesbian and bisexual women from different regions of Cuba (coordinated by Sara Más and Teresa de Jesús Fernández), which is the first book to be published in Cuba on the subject.
Mon02Mar202012:00 pmCampus Boekentoren, Building Blandijn, Meeting room Camelot (130.007), Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent (third floor)
Of ingénieurs and logiques: Gender, mobility and knowledge in Kinshasa’s emerging tech scene by Katrien Pype (KU Leuven)Lunch seminar
Katrien Pype is an anthropologist who has been working on Kinshasa’s media and technology cultures since 2003. She has published in journals such as Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology; Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society; Visual Anthropology; and Media, Culture & Society. Her monograph, The Making of the Pentecostal Melodrama: Religion, Media, and Gender in Kinshasa, was published in 2012; she also co-edited a volume on Ageing in Sub-Saharan Africa: Spaces and Practices of Care (Bristol University Press). Katrien also co-initiated the CongoResearchNetwork. She is associate professor in anthropology at the KU Leuven.
Mon03Feb202012:00 pmCampus Boekentoren, Building Blandijn, Meeting room Camelot (130.007), Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent (third floor)
“Global Fertility Chains”: A feminist political economy pf transnational surrogacy between Isreal/Palestine and Georgia by Sigrid Vertommen (UGent)Lunch seminar
Sigrid Vertommen is a FWO postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies of Ghent University and an affiliated member of the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender. She was a Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London (2017-2019), and a research associate at the Sociology of Reproduction Research Group (ReproSoc) at the University of Cambridge (2019).
Whores, harems, and holy men. Modern views on ancient women by Katrien De Graef (Ghent University)Lunch seminar
Katrien De Graef, PhD (2004) in Oriental Languages and Cultures, is associate professor of Assyriology and History of the Ancient Near East at Ghent University. She has published extensively on 2ndmillennium BC socio-economic history of Mesopotamia (modern Iraq and Iran). Her current research focusses on the role of women in Old Babylonian economy, religion and society. She is a member of the Gender, Methodology, and the Ancient Near East (GeMANE) Study group, a scientific platform for the international community of Ancient Near Eastern scholars working on gender related themes.
Goddess games: Gender and nature in new age spirituality by Susannah Crockford (Ghent University)Lunch seminar
Susannah Crockford is a post-doctoral researcher at Ghent University in Belgium. Her research interests focus on spirituality, millenarianism, and discourses of nature and climate change. She earned her PhD in anthropology in July 2017 from the London School of Economics, and previously completed an MA in religious studies at the University of Amsterdam and an undergraduate degree in anthropology at the University of Cambridge.
‘Affronts to the healthy eye.’ On negotiating how people with disabilities should be regarded by Anaïs Van Ertvelde (Leiden University)Lunch seminar
Anaïs Van Ertvelde holds an Ma in history (UGent) and an Ma in gender studies (UUtrecht). Her research interests lie where bodies and social movements intersect. She is currently a PhD student at Leiden University’s Institute of History where she looks into how during the 1970s and 1980s disability became a concern for governments and social movements alike and how the concept can be understood in a bipolar world. Her research is part of the broader project Rethinking Disability. The Global Impact of the International Year of Disabled People in Historical Perspective (http://rethinkingdisability.net/).
“Making family” in a relational world: Cosmopraxis among Aymara families in Bolivia and Chile by Koen De Munter (Alberto Hurtado University)Lunch seminar
Koen de Munter (1960) studied Roman Philology (Ma) and Comparative Science of Cultures (Ma, PhD) at UGent. As an anthropologist he has been working since the nineties in the Andean region, mostly in the Bolivian Altiplano, with Aymara families who commute between the indigenous city of El Alto and their home communities. Academically he has been employed in different universities in Chile, since 2012 he holds an appointment at the Department of Anthropology at Universidad Alberto Hurtado (Santiago de Chile). From the study of intercultural and postcolonial dynamics in the Andean region he has evolved in recent years towards a much more ‘biosocial’ (socialecological) perspective, focusing the theoretical reflection on the relevance of Tim Ingold’s recent work about an anthropology of life an about an “education by attention”. Koen de Munter has been conducting longstanding research projects, amongst other things about “Vivir bien” praxis, politics and ideologies (2015-2019). He is currently the principal investigator of a project about “Aymara cosmpraxis in a relational world: “making family” with the living, the dead and the wak’as” (Chilean government funded Fondecyt Regular 1190279, 2019-2022).
Hacking gender in journalism by Sara De Vuyst (Ghent University)Lunch seminar
Dr. Sara De Vuyst is a postdoctoralresearcher at the Department of Communication Studies at Ghent University. Her research interests are feminist media studies, and more specifically, gender issues andtechnological innovation journalism. She is currently working on a postdoc that explores online abuse of journalists from an intersectional perspective. Sara De Vuyst is vice-chair of the ECREA Gender and Communication section.
Swapping and stealing: Marriage, play and polyamory in Northwest Namibia by Steven Van Wolputte (KULeuven)Lunch seminar
Steven Van Wolputte is professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA), KU Leuven. He has published in the fields of material and popular culture, political anthropology and of the anthropology of the body. Besides the impact of rapid urbanization on intimacy and close relationships, his current research interests include the anthropology of human security in Africa and a research project on how makerspaces imagine and make the African city of the future. For more information: see https://www.kuleuven.be/wieiswie/en/person/00017725
Bodily care, clothes and shoes from India to China by Ann Heirman (Ghent University)Lunch seminar
Ann Heirman, Ph.D. (1998) in Oriental Languages and Cultures, is professor of Chinese Language and Culture and head of the Centre for Buddhist Studies at Ghent University in Belgium. She has published extensively on Chinese Buddhist monasticism and the development of disciplinary rules, including Rules for Nuns according to the Dharmaguptakavinaya (Motilal Banarsidass, 2002), The Spread of Buddhism (Brill, edited volume with Stephan Peter Bumbacher, 2007), A Pure Mind in a Clean Body (with Mathieu Torck, Academia Press, 2012), and Buddhist Encounters and Identities Across East Asia (Brill, edited volume with Carmen Meinert and Christoph Anderl, 2018).