Creating Feminist Knowledge and Praxis: Gendered Dilemmas and Contradictions

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 33 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Marcia SEGAL, Indiana University South East, USA
In the late 19th century women raised their voices for the first time in Europe, demanding voting rights and equal access to higher education. In the early 20th century, but especially after World War II, feminism in Europe has increasingly become a compelling intellectual tradition, challenging the social and power structure and the gender division of labor. More recently, feminism has criticized the very notions of “economic crisis” and “austerity” that saturate today’s dominant political narrative. And yet, women’s voices have always been indigenous regardless of the place from which they are pronounced. Is there women’s indigenous knowledge in Europe? Who qualifies to be a knower? In what ways, if at all, the knowledge by women’s voices reaches a different, more powerful level? The presentation will address some of these questions by: a) elaborating on the reflexive turn stimulated in Western and European feminism by post-colonial thought; b) exploring how feminist  thought has being inducing (within sociology of science and beyond) the questioning of the hierarchical  dichotomy between indigenous and universal knowledge. All forms of knowledge uphold practices and constitute subjects. Emancipatory interculturality presupposes recognition of a plurality of knowledges, whose validity has to be assessed in the context of concrete practices, and not through the abstract disqualification of some. A counterhegemonic use of science consists of exploring alternative scientific practices made visible by the plural epistemologies of science and of valorizing the interdependence between scientific and nonscientific knowledges, within an ecology of knowledges.  It so happens that knowledge about women’s lives may be partially silenced and their lived experiences neglected in hegemonic science (notwithstanding the rhetoric of “gender mainstreaming”). At the same time spaces of liberation are created, in Northern and Southern Europe, through action research conducted by women researchers to promote gender equality and transform research organizations.