Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Reflections on “Forgotten Bodies”

To use the words of someone I met there, the Forgotten Bodies conference was affirming, to see that there are other postgrads working on feminist and gender studies research. Of course I knew they existed, but something about sitting down this morning made me remember it, like I'd forgotten while being in a department that centres on scientific and professional research.

I also remembered that I didn't need to preach to the converted about feminist theory, but by then I had already written my paper with a huge theories section, and I couldn't find easy bits to cut out. By leaving it in I then ran out of time for the methods section and rushed it, and that was probably the most interesting or different part of the paper. I had a few people tell me that my work was interesting and a good paper that gave a different perspective to the session. I had felt a bit like I wouldn't fit or that people wouldn't be interested because it was a session on “Fat” and the other two speakers were doing eating disorders and the place of fat bodies in society. Not sure I successfully answered the questions I got at the end either, with my rambling.

Other interesting presentations were Vikki Chalkin's work on queer femininity using an auto-ethnography, for she talked about putting the researcher at the heart of the research alongside the participants, for her embodiment and knowledge must be recognised in the production of research. She also talked about being marginalised in her Media department for being too creative and not doing proper research, and marginalised in Arts for being too theoretical, which I could sort of identify with because I feel like I am not doing the sort of work that my department expects, that they think of when they think pedagogy. I don't think I'm doing the sort of work I would think of if I thought of pedagogy! Results and recommendations and things like that. I'm quite cognizant of the wishes of the teachers at school at have a report that gives them some answers to the questions they have hinted at during my data collection, and I think of how I can do this report from my data. It occasionally influences the questions I ask of the students.

But, nice to see the world of gender studies and arts beyond my own department. Yesterday I went to a seminar by a social science student on learning in communities of practice, very interesting and slightly with relevance to my methods. And I was interviewed recently for a project on Third Wave feminists so it's a bit of a week for seeing other worlds, actually. I think my responses reflected on, as I have said here, the position I am in as an academic.

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