Joint Sessions in Feminist Theory, Winter Term 2022/23
This series of events takes place as part of the seminar »Theory and Figurations of Gender Relations« (Freie Universität Berlin) and the doctoral program in Gender, Culture and Society
(University of Helsinki). It is a cooperation between Esther von der Osten (Peter Szondi
Institute of Comparative Literature, Freie Universität Berlin), Susanne Lettow (Margherita von
Brentano Center for Gender Studies, Freie Universität Berlin) and Tuija Pulkkinen
(Department of Cultures, Director doctoral program Gender, Culture and Society (SKY),
University of Helsinki).
01.11.2022, 4-6pm (CET) online
Jule Govrin (Berlin): Radical, Relational Equality, Shared Vulnerability and Different Bodies. Towards a Feminist Critique of Economics
The pandemic confronts us with our relationality and shared vulnerability. At the same time, it reveals how people are rendered structurally vulnerable and precarious. How to rethink equality, but also inequality, on the basis of bodies? On one hand, Verónica Gago and Luci Cavallero propose a perspective at economy from below, starting from bodies. Following this suggestion, it becomes apparent how certain bodies are vulnerabilized through forms of differential exploitation according to the international and gendered division of labor. On the other hand, feminist body politics and solidaristic practices of care unfold egalitarian potential – and thus points to a universalism from below.
15.11.2022, 4-6pm (CET) online
Margrit Shildrick (Stockholm University): Visceral prostheses, biotechnologies and posthuman embodiment
My presentation is rooted in the meaning and philosophical significance of prostheses read through the diverse but interlinked phenomena of disability, organ transplantation and the physiological processes of microchimerism and the microbiome. (In biomedicine microchimerism refers to a small but significant presence of non-self-cells coexisting within a dominant population of self-cells in the same body.) I will examine the complex interfaces between these areas around the question of how our understanding of embodiment is being transformed in the age of advanced biomedical technologies. Where conventional conceptions of prostheses refer to rehabilitation devices that replace or augment impaired parts of the body, I broaden the scope beyond mechanical prostheses to explore visceral organic prostheses, which includes transplants and any cellular material that cannot be identified with the self. In the postmodern era, the interface of bodies, biologies and technologies increasingly challenges not only normative embodiment, but also the very understanding of what counts as human. The deployment of prostheses, both inorganic and more significantly organic, is one major area which demonstrates how embodiment can be varied such that the usual markers of human being – bounded bodies, unique DNA, an enduring sense of self – can no longer be taken for granted. We urgently need to address the issue of posthuman embodiment and it is necessary to think a different future that does not take for granted the wholeness, separation and independence of each body nor human distinctiveness. By gaining a deeper understanding of the conceptual underpinnings, which are fundamentally about the relation between self and otherness, I suggest ways forward in the task of welcoming prostheticised embodiment, whether in the context of disability, donated body parts, or the operation of microchimerism and the microbiome. I use recent continental philosophy, feminist theory and contemporary advances in bioscience to open up the significance of prostheses in revaluing multiple variant forms and in thinking transcorporeality as the very condition of life. The task is to go beyond the dominant bioethical conventions of modernism to facilitate acceptance of transcorporeal and posthuman embodiment.
17.01.2023, 4-6pm (CET) online
Jane Gallop (University of Wisconsin/Madison):
This paper follows on Jane Gallop's 2019 book, Sexuality, Disability and Aging: Queer Temporalities of the Phallus, to focus more on the difference an attention to late-onset disability can make for crip theory. Crip Theory has been for the last two decades a site of important, groundbreaking theorizing of the body, combining as it does the insights of queer theory and disability perspectives. This paper takes what it calls "late-onset disability" (disability starting in middle age or later) as a point of interrogation for crip theory, introducing the question of change over time to the antinormative thinking of crip theory. This retheorization takes place via readings of two classic 90s text that were foundational for crip theory: Eve Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closet and Lennard Davis's Enforcing Normalcy.
07.02.2023, 4-6pm (CET) online
Sanna Karhu (Helsinki University), Moya Lloyd (University of Essex), Hanna Meißner (Technical University Berlin):
Round-table on Judith Butler: What World is This? A Pandemic Phenomenology
Judith Butler is one of the most acclaimed and hotly debated authors of contemporary feminist thought. She has published prolific amounts during her career, and she continues to do so, introducing new thought continuously. Butler’s work has not only been an inspiration for extensive amount of academic work in many fields, but has also been studied extensively. More than a dozen of book-length volumes about her work have already appeared, and countless dissertations and articles all around the world have engaged in analysis of her work. Both detailed aspects of her work as well as her overall approach as a theorist, scholar and feminist are continuously under scrutiny. Judith Butler’s latest book, “What World is This. A Pandemic Phenomenology” was published in November 2022. In this roundtable three experts on Butler’s scholarship discuss this new volume in light of Butler’s previous work. What is new, what is the same, what is worth noting? What is important and what do we learn in this new volume? Each of the participants will draw on their own views to engage in discussion about the new volume, its ideas, and its place in Butler’s published thought.
The Roundtable discussants are:
Moya Lloyd, professor of Politics at the University of Essex. She has analysed Judith Butler’s thought in numerous publications which include Judith Butler: From Norms to Politics (2007) and Butler and Ethics (2015).
Sanna Karhu, postdoctoral researcher in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki. Her dissertation From Violence to Resistance: Judith Butler’s Critique of Norms (2017), University of Helsinki, focuses on Judith Butler’s work.
Hanna Meissner, professor of Gender Studies at Technical University, Berlin. She has engaged with Judith Butler’s work extensively in her research, including her dissertation Jenseits des autonomen Subjekts. Zur gesellschaftlichen Konstitution von Handlungsfähigkeit im Anschluss an Butler, Foucault und Marx (2010) and Ethik, Sozialität und Unverfügbarkeit. Ein lebendiger Ort für das ›Ich‹ (2018).