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Friday, June 17, 2022

Session reports

Gender, power, and embodied relationships in research 

-Yolanda Weima 


“Gender, fieldwork, relationships, and results” was the first of two paper sessions on masculinities, and brought together papers with a particular focus on female-identifying scholars’ embodied experiences conducting research with migrant men. The session came about through conversations between Reena Kukreja (Queen’s University) and Árdís Kristín Ingvars (University of Iceland). Both Reena and Árdís conducted research with racialized migrant men in Greece, but from different positionalities: Reena is co-ethnic with many of the men in her research, while Árdís is white. They shared a concern with reflecting on ethics, safety, and how their positionalities (also including age, sexuality, and dis/ability) shape their production of knowledge through embodied encounters. Karlien Strijbosch (Maastricht University) also contributed to the session, discussing her work with Senegalese returnees. She noted that her research included “sometimes unexpected moments” as “multiple layers of identity cross.”


These topics are “intimate and gendered” and involves the sharing of personal experiences, which can be “muddy and messy,” particularly when sexuality and racialization is embedded in encounters (Reena). Further, the research contexts of the papers in this session all involved relations of power in which their privileged mobility as researchers was in stark contrast to the illegalized and deportable status of their interlocuteurs. Accordingly, as chair, Reena explicitly aimed to create a safe space of candour and respect. 


While the papers addressed many challenging experiences, for all three scholars “spaces of leisure,” play, and everyday life had a role in “undoing boundaries.” Reena described sitting on the edge of the road with men, watching passing cars, or discussing the clouds and reminiscing about monsoon rain. Karlien spent substantial time drinking tea, or sharing meals with interlocutors families, noting the way men spoke more or less openly in different spaces, and how her white, foreign identity facilitated her acceptance and access to more “male” spaces. Árdís discussed observations on masculinities observed even in stance and posture when walking with migrant men, and how ideas about protection challenged power relations differently when walking with straight or queer migrant men.


*(Ester Gallo (University of Trento) contributed a pre-recorded paper but was unable to attend the live session.)

Methods: Transnational and Temporal Methods

- Aila Bandagi


Having obsessed over transnational feminist methods for a while now, this session chaired by Nazgol Bagheri ws the perfect last session for me to attend. With two fantastic presentations, the session explored feminist methods across geographies, identities and time. 

The first speaker, Jaeyeon Lee presented her upcoming paper titled “Torn Apart! A Transnational Researcher’ Geopolitical Positionality and Mental Health in (pre-) COVID-19 times.” In what can only be described as radical vulnerability, she talked about her identity, as a Korean woman, her training as a feminist geographer in the United States, and a geo-political body that experiences fear, loyalty, solidarity, nationalism, mental health and the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion highlighted that many of the participants were looking forward to reading her embodied research during the South Korea - Japan trade war. 

The second speaker Jenna Loyd presented the work for a group of scholars, titled “Dear feminist collective: How does one take up slow scholarship (in the midst of crises)?.” While we can all look forward to the chapter that is coming out soon in the Routledge handbook of methods, we got a glimpse of what care-full scholarship should look like. Highlighting that care ethics are counter ethics to neo-liberal ideas, the speaker described that they drew on de-colonial and disability studies for their article. The discussion saw positive comments and encouraging debates among the people present.

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