Feminist Methodologies Symposium, 2019


Booking is now open here for our Feminist Methodologies Symposium, 1st-2nd April, 2019 at Loughborough University. Free for Loughborough staff and students, we are happy to have been able to keep the cost for PGRs from other universities down to only £10.

Speakers and Abstracts

Zowie Davy (Centre for LGBTQ Research, De Montfort University), Neo-materialist Approaches to Research and Feminism.’

A practical recognition that is required of researchers is to be able to choose the best form of methodology for the job at hand. Or for researchers to understand that choosing one methodology over another will inevitable produce different results. I want to draw on Fox and Alldred’s (2014) paper by paraphrasing their understanding of ‘doing and producing research.’ I think their concept of research machines as part of a ‘research-assemblage’ allows us to begin to recognize research as a process of territorialization. Research territorialization is the momentary settling of all the research’s constituent parts – a research assemblage – into a whole that shapes the knowledge produced and in effect wider knowledge production. The knowledge that research produces manifests according to the particular flows of affect produced by any researcher’s methodology and methods, analysis and write-up and the people involved. This materialist analysis of research-as assemblage is pivotal to my more recent understanding of research integrity, and will form the basis for a critical framework for this talk around qualitative and indeed it’s often quoted nemesis quantitative social inquiry and the connections and disjuncture that the neo-materialist approach may have for and on feminist research.


Yasmin Gunaratnam (Sociology, Goldsmith’s), ‘Empirical performance and the research undercommons: researching diasporic affect and materiality at the end of life.’

 In this talk I offer examples of a method of empirical performance that brings together qualitative research with the expressive arts to evoke the complex sensual and organic residues of how social injustice and violation can be lived and carried in exiled and migrant bodies at the end of life. My interest has been in how speculative and creative methods can be used to investigate how migrant bodies can bear and express the weight of living in climates of racialised hostility and debilitation. In discussing my experiments with the method, I invite you to journey with me into the undercommons of research; to tune into and out of what is withdrawn from the now, from rational thought and from symbolisation. In developing empirical performance pieces I have followed Saidiya Hartman (1997) in giving attention to ‘the terror of the mundane and quotidian rather than exploit the shocking spectacle’ (p.4). The paper draws from my research with migrants and refugees in English hospitals, hospices and in the community and my interest in the in-between, cripping of experience that is expressed in hallucinations, deliria and diasporic dementia.


Sharon Kivland (Fine Art, Sheffield Hallam), ‘The Natural Forms.’

Sharon Kivland is an artist, writer, editor, publisher, an occasional and reluctant curator and translator, and is sometimes (and to her surprise) called a poet, who lives and works in France and the UK. Her work considers what is put at stake by art, politics, and psychoanalysis. She will not give a paper (she may not give anything, for everything has a price), but will talk instead about some recent works, where bodies are formed (fashioned), where agency is acquired (and lost), and where political action intersects with private life.


Eleonora Belfiore (Sociology, LU), The Transformative Power of Feminist Solidarity: The #WIASN Experience’

In my talk, I will share with conference participants my experiences of becoming involved in being the co-director of #WIASN, the Women In Academia Support Network, a group of female scholars organised around a Facebook group that work together to subvert the values of competition, prestige, aggressive careerism that are so pervasive in contemporary higher education through solidarity, mutual support, advice, and the subversive power of unbridled moments of humour. Barely 18 months from its institution by Amy Bonsall, #WIASN counts in excess of 10,500 members from across the world, across disciplines and at different career stages. Advice has been sought and given, moral support has flowed across continents and time zones, articles have been co-authored and friendships have been built. But above all as a disparate bunch of women from different walks of life we have worked together to craft our very own response to this famous quote by Tony Morrison:

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

In conversation with my respondent, I hope to use this opportunity to begin to articulate what emerges powerfully from the WIASN experience in terms of our duties of care for each other as women in academia, and in particular our responsibility towards PhD students and early career academics who find themselves entering the world of HE at a challenging time. How can deploy feminist solidarity to radically change academia for the better? 


Ali Bilgic (International Relations, LU), ‘”Between us and reality are our feelings”: An Immigrant’s Story’.

Feminist social sciences have long studied emotions by rejecting the modernist/positivist binary between rationality and affect. However, the discipline of International Relations (IR) chose to ignore these feminist contributions and has recently invented its own ‘affective turn’ while still, mostly, ignoring feminist contributions. As a PhD student, I also reproduced the dichotomy to separate my research on immigration from my feelings as an immigrant in the UK. However, with the benefit of hindsight, I now argue that the separation, which was supposed to make my research ‘credible’, in fact, disabled me to explore the workings of power through emotions in immigration control, in particular, how my/our bodies and subjectivities as researchers are affectively disciplined in/through academic discourse. In this talk, I will tell my research story and urge feminist researchers to trust and rely on their moments of ‘affective dissonance’.


Marsha Meskimmon (Art History, LU), ‘Transnational feminisms and the arts: what’s methodology got to do with it?’

In doing research at the nexus of transnational feminisms and contemporary art, I have found myself with what I envisage as a small satchel of terms that are variously useful, compelling, inspiring and troublesome. Some of these are firm and fast friends – materialisationgenerosity, wonder; othersI first ignored, only to find them emerging time and again until they became a focal point in my work  – cosmopolitanism, imagination, ecologies. If I dig around in my satchel at the moment, methodology tumbles out. Indeed it looms large as a word I once wanted to dodge because of its stifling associations (in my head) with reductive thinking and the application of an ‘off the peg’ model of enquiry. In other words, methodology could not be a tool in my satchel, because my tools were there (per Audre Lorde) to dismantle the Master’s house.  In my current project, however, I have become fascinated by the transformative power of transnational feminist work on methodologies, as it draws together, in marvellous figurations, decolonising, race critical, indigenous, queer, utopian, transversal, ecologies of knowing, imagining, writing, making and inhabiting the world otherwise. These encounters with methodology are what I would like to share with colleagues through my presentation. 


Evening Performance

We are delighted to bring you an evening performance from Major Labia, a comedy collective of witty women. Graduates of the BAFTA award-winning Television Workshop, Breakthrough Company at Leicester Curve, and, most recently, Amplify Creative Associates at the Nottingham Playhouse, they tackle daily issues through vaginal comedy. 

Conference Dinner

On the evening of the 1st, we will be going to Browns Lane restaurant in Loughborough for dinner, where they have put on a special deal for us. You can sign up and pay for this when you register.


Day 1
10.30 am – 10.45 Registration
10.45 – 11 am Welcome – Jennifer Cooke 
11 – 12.30 pm Talk 1: Sharon Kivland, with respondent Daniel Fountain
12.30 – 1.30 pm Lunch
1.30 – 3 pm pm Talk 2: Yasmin Gunaratnam, with respondent Hazel McMichael
3 pm – 3.30 break (with coffee)
3.30 – 5 pm Talk 3: Marsha Meskimmon, with respondent Marlous Van-Boldrik 
5 – 5.30 Wine reception
5.30 – 6.30 Performance by Major Labia
7. 30 Conference dinner in town

Day 2
9.45 – 10.45 PGR Session, ‘Making a 5-Year Plan’, with Jennifer Cooke, Hilary Robinson, Catherine Armstrong and Elspeth Mitchell. Will include a Q&A 
10.45 – 12.15 pm Talk 4: Ali Bilgic with respondent Gabriel Knott-Fayle
12.15 – 1.15 pm Lunch
1.15 – 2.45 pm pm Talk 5: Zoe Davy, with respondent Sophia Kier-Byfield
2.45 – 3.15 break (with coffee)
3.15 – 4.45 pm Talk 6: Eleonora Belfiore, with respondent Eleanor Dumbill
4.45 – 5 pm Quickfire roundtable / conference summary
5 pm Conference close