Cripping gender studies!

Visual interpretation: Street art by Åsa Halldin from Gothenburg, seen on my way to the conference venue. Blue/turquoise background, silhouettes of different people and a deer, black and white stripes on the right. See Åsa’s work on Instagram @AsaHalldin or her website.

This year I attended the recurring Swedish gender studies conference G19, which had the theme Rethinking Knowledge Regimes – Solidarities and Contestations. My Swedish disability studies colleagues and I thought that this would be a perfect fit for a symposium on our research, since we often feel that dis/ability perspectives are missing in Swedish gender studies. I attended the G12 conference back in 2012, and I was one of two presenters on a disability-related topic then. My colleagues had similar experiences on other G conferences. We thought that this year it would be different considering the theme, which indeed fits a DS perspective. However, when we saw the programme it turned out that our symposium was the only one!

But it seems like our topics were awaited, because our small room soon got full and people were even sitting on the floor. We were glad to see so many people there, not least some well-known gender studies professors! Our symposium was titled No Cripness – No Peace: Rethinking Feminist Knowledge Regimes with Cripistemologies. Together with my colleagues Mikael Mery Karlsson, Lund University, Christine Bylund, Umeå University and Elisabet Apelmo, Malmö University, we spoke of our respective research projects against the following background:

Feminists are constantly rethinking knowledge regimes within as well as outside the academy. We have not entered the university only to gain access to an already existing institution for production of knowledges, but to transform what knowledge production is. Although gender scholars have made significant contributions to knowledge produced around processes of power and marginalisation in Swedish universities, one research field remains seldomly addressed: the ableist bodymind.

Ableism is embedded and continually reproduced within academic spaces in general, and in feminist and/or gender studies spaces in particular. What does this mean for the accountability of knowledge production? In 2014, Merri Lisa Johnsson coined the concept Cripistemologies aiming to question ”what we think we know about disability, and how we know around and through it”. With this session, we aim to bring this questioning into Gender studies. Presenting from four different research projects within the field of dis/ability studies, we aim to discuss what cripping feminist knowledge production might mean for Gender Studies in Sweden.

See my Twitter feed on #G19Rethinking for my comments on some great presentations I attended during the conference!

Below is a picture of the four of us:

Visual interpretation: A collage of four photos, from upper left corner and clockwise: 1) Mikael standing in front of his power point presentation which reads Cripping institutional ethnography – starting from activists experiences. He wears black trousers, a white shirt and black glasses and has black hair. He’s seen gesticulating while speaking. 2) Christine seated in her wheelchair in front of ther presentation Disability as the playground of the (abled) mind – towards a critical discussion on disability in feminist studies. She’s wearing a black skirt and cardigan over a black and white checkered top. She’s got short hair and glasses. 3) Elisabet i standing next to her presentation in grey pants and a black top. Her presentation was on Cripping higher education: Difference and experience in the academic classrooms (my translation from Swedish). 4) Me standing next to my presentation Sexuality: more than just identity. Developing intersectional theorizing for increased accessibility. I’m wearing a black, red and white striped dress and glasses.