|Jyothsna Belliappa||Gitta Victoria Brüschke||Julia Carter|
||Hsing Miao Chi||Zita Farkas||Elif Gazioglu|
|Mariann Hardey||Terri He||Rosemary Hill|
|Maria Karepova||Sun Nam Kim||Sanja Kurd|
|Angelica Liu||Kate Maclean||Corinne Malpocher|
|Lingling Mao||Jody Mellor||Hiranmayee Mishra|
|Pranati Mohanraj||Jessica Murray||Petra Nordqvist|
|Julie Palmer||Irene Perez Fernandez||Janet Peukert|
|Anna Piela||Meghan Reid||Tove Solander|
|Liz Sourbut||Corinna Tomrley||Yi-Han Wang|
|Wenchao Wei||Zhang Xie|
Jyothsna Belliappa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I have recently completed my PhD titled ‘Relational
Identities: Middle Class Indian Women Negotiate the Consequences of Globalization and Late Modernity’
under the supervision of Professor Stevi Jackson and
Professor the Baroness Haleh Afshar. My examiners
were Professor the Lord Parekh and Dr Kaloski-Naylor.
The liberalization of India’s economy which commenced with economic reforms in 1991 saw several economic and cultural changes in urban India accompanied by a visible increase in job opportunities, particularly in the transnational Information Technology (IT) industry. Since the mid-nineties an increasing number of middle class women have joined the IT workforce, gaining access to incomes and lifestyles that their mothers had rarely imagined. My PhD research investigated how contemporary Indian women employed in the IT industry understand their experiences of these changes, concentrating on two sites of change: urban middle class families and transnational workplaces. It examined what women’s understandings of these changes may indicate about their sense of self. Through qualitative research conducted amongst women aged between 24 and 37 years in Bangalore, the birthplace of India’s IT industry, the research explored how women attempt to negotiate continuities and contradictions between in the home and the workplace and reinterpret ‘Western’ notions of individualism in the Indian context.
My thesis raises questions about the contradiction between the notion of work-life balance and the intensification of work in the knowledge economy which requires employees to be flexible, mobile and highly individualized. It attempts to critique the late modernity thesis, interrogating Giddens’s (1991) notion of the self as a reflexive project. By foregrounding the experiences and perspectives of middle class women, it aims to add a new dimension to contemporary scholarship on the Indian middle classes. I hope to take this research forward by comparing the experiences of urban middle class women in India with those of women in the Indian Diaspora in Britain, thereby exploring two facets of women’s experiences within globalization. I am also interested in focussing more sharply on call centres.
I have an MA in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. My previous experience includes teaching Sociology and Women's Studies at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. I have also worked in qualitative research, managing projects for multinational corporations, NGOs and the United Nations. I currently work in the University's Graduate Training Unit which offers professional skills training to PhD students (for more details on my work experience see http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/hr/training/gtu/biog/jyothsna.htm).
However, none of my pervious experiences prepared me for the intensely exciting experience of being a student of CWS and relating feminist theory to everyday lived-experience (mine and those of my research participants).
Gitta Victoria Brüschke (email@example.com)
Women and technology. Just these three words are frequently interpreted and commented on in the public discourse as provocative. Are women really so distant or passionless regarding technology? If so, worrying future trends can be predicted, because new technologies will constantly be developed for use in everyday life. Only those with the know-how will be able to utilize these technologies.
Gitta Victoria's Bowl I want to be reminded everytime I'll eat out of my bowl, that life contains of all those written words inside. And whether work or leisure: It is all our lifetime. Create yourself each day as you would like it to have.
My thesis project centres around these questions: How and from where do people acquire knowledge about new technologies, such as the computer or the mobile phone? Are there differences in the strategies of knowledge-gathering between women and men? Which problems do they face in the process of searching for special information? What do they think about themselves, how much knowledge about certain artefacts should they have and why? Do they have a special person whom they use as information supplier? My intention is to discover the various strategies people use to find the knowledge they need in the best, fastest, and easiest way. How do they deal with frustrating barriers or dead ends? It has been argued that 'the quality of the access to digital media is crucial for future gender relationships, because the status quo suggests an increasing dependence on mostly male experts and a lagging behind of women in the information and knowledge society'. (Donna Haraway in Schäfer-Bossert 2005, S. 69-81) With my background as a mechanical engineer and my PhD-project in sociology I bridge the gap between hard and soft sciences as well as being a woman in a 'man's world'. I ran my own consulting company for more than 15 years, and my interest in how to acquire knowledge was a major issue for the success of my business.
Julia Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After completing my MA in Women's Studies (Social Research) in the Centre last year I have been given the opportunity to continue studying here for a PhD with the help of ESRC funding. My MA dissertation explored the ways in which young heterosexual British women perceive intimate relationships in a climate of supposed selfishness and self-satisfaction in romantic partnerships. I hope to continue this theme in my PhD research with a closer focus on marriage and to what extent this is still an important institution for young heterosexual women.
Rising divorce rates, increased separations and more temporary relationships among young people has led some theorists to suggests that there is a transformation of intimacy in modern society (Giddens, 1992). This transformation has led to the emergence of the 'pure relationship' that is based on self-satisfaction for the individuals involved (Giddens, 1992). My research is concerned with discovering to what extent modern marriages conform to this 'pure relationship' model and are considered to be temporary and contingent on satisfaction. I will focus on the meaning of marriage for young heterosexual women; their marriage aspirations in relation to their ideal age for marriage, career prospects and permanence; and marriage expectations of young women, whether they intend married life to be based on more equal or traditional values and how they expect marriage will impact on their identities.
The media and politicians appear to view marriage and family values as being in a state of crisis and in need of fixing. Yet I would like to present the other side of the debate highlighting the positive aspects of the fluidity of family and intimate relations, suggesting that an increase in temporary relationships does not necessarily indicate a rejection of commitment, and that the family unit is not necessarily always the perfect environment for bringing up children.
Hsing Miao Chi (email@example.com)
Before I came to the Centre for Women's Studies at the University of York, I completed my MA programme in Applied Science of Living in Taiwan (the main focus of this degree was the family).With nearly two years experiences of research assistant in Taiwan, explored the issues like grandparenting and health educational program of anti-smoking for pregnant and postpartum mothers. It is a great opportunity for me to study here to explore the relationship between woman and family.
Hsing Miao's mug
My thesis is about the life experience and practice of the role of mother-in-law and their negotiations in the context of cross-border marriage in Taiwan. To my knowledge, seeing the older woman as an "oppressive other" is a popular (mis)conception of the role she plays in the cross-border marriage between Taiwanese men and Southeast Asian women. The current researchers often employ these descriptions provided by mothers-in-law to explain the foreign bride's oppressed position in the household, rather than dwell on the interaction between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. They make no attempt to explain these interactions in term of wider social processes. I am not intending to overlook the current research contribution on the marriage immigrate women and the fact that they struggle for integrating themselves into the whole community. Rather I consider my work as another way to read the women's agency and negotiation constraint by gender roles. That is to say, under the multiple functions of patriarchal and cultural cycle, plus the general suspicion on immigrated women accentuated by the society and communities, mothers-in-law, another significant group of older women, are also involved in this identification and construction process.
Zita Farkas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I graduated from the University of Szeged in Hungary with a BA in English Language and Literature in 1999. In 2002 I received my MA in Gender Studies from the Central European University in Budapest. After a year of PhD studies at the University of Timisoara in Romania, I received a Marie Curie Scholarship that has enabled me to continue my research at the University of York.
At the beginning of my PhD research I concentrated on a queer narratological analysis of Jeanette Winterson's novels. My interest shifted as I reflected on my interpretation of Winterson's work and realised the lack of metacritical discourse on the reception of a writer's work. Thus, my research focus shifted from the analysis of her work towards the reception of her work.
I investigate the reception of Winterson's work and explore the different fields that contribute to the manufacture of a contemporary British writer. My thesis will therefore analyse the ways in which Winterson's work has been received by academics and in the media. It will also consider Winterson's own interventions in her work's reception through interviews and through her website as well as the role that the televisation of Winterson's work has played in ceating her writerly persona. Furthermore, I will examine how the inclusion of her work in mainstream school curricula and the prizes it has been awarded have affected the ways in which she has been turned into a particular kind of contemporary British woman writer.
Elif Gazioglu (email@example.com)
After graduating from the University of Istanbul, I completed my MA in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory at University of Nottingham last year. This is my first year as a PhD candidate in the Centre of Women's Studies.
My research area is the ways of feminist activists` participation in politics in Turkey. I will explore feminist activists` opinions of politics in general and Turkish politics in particular throughout series of interviews.
After completing my MA in Women's Studies (Humanities) here at the Centre in 2004/5, I am now embarking upon my first year of doctoral study. Continuing my interest in the intersections between women and travel, developed during my undergraduate degree at Durham and my Master's, my AHRC-funded research oscillates around the title 'Re-writing age and place: travel narratives of older women.'
The proliferation and circulation of travel narratives (both on and off-line) for and/or by older women, indicate that travel has become a defining cultural resource among affluent retirees. Using the conception of travel as a 'performative zone' and connecting it to the importance of story-telling in self-construction, (Plummer:1995) my research will explore ageing, gender, travel and technology as they intersect in the travel narratives of older British women.
My research is particularly concerned with the creation and/or representation of an ageing identity in texts. Specifically, I am interested in how or whether travel re-defines a definition of ageing, as stereotypical images of ageing place the older person in the home.
I propose to:
- Investigate the negotiation between personal narratives and identity-commodity in cultural representations of ageing
- Analyse textual and visual travel narratives by older women in both print (such as Anne Mustoe, Dervla Murphy) and digital/electronic forms
- Examine the relationship between technological tools, the technologies of travel and the telling of age identity
- Explore connections between location and self-identity in representations of place in travel narratives (Hepworth: 2000)
Mariann Hardey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am a Phd student based in the UK at the Centre for Women's Studies and Sociology Department here at the University of York (supported by the Economic and Social Research Council). I completed my MA in Social Research at the Centre for Women's Studies at York in 2005.
My main interest is in digital social networking, technology, Web 2.0 applications, telecommunications and anything techie! I love my gadgets! and think that there are interesting issues arising out of how connected we are as a society and technology overall.
My main position is as a social scientist. Social surveillance in particular remains an area of interest, as well as how we as individuals are encouraged to profile ourselves across an array of digital social applications, platforms and media appendages.
In short this is about 'we' manage all this information. Think about it; how many user identities and accounts do you have with profile information and that you 'log into' on a daily basis, and what kind of social actions take place there?..
My work has been published in M/C journal in Australia and in Information Communication and Society (ICS), other publications are forthcoming! I also contribute regularly to several blogs including Girlygeekdom, AssignmentZero news and my own Web2.0MediaTalk and ProperFacebookEtiquette.
Links to all these and more are via my Website:
Terri He (email@example.com)
My research focuses on a Taiwanese online community. The participants are gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual people, and as a group they voice their concerns about public recognition of their marginal sexuality to one another as well as to the broader Taiwanese society. The group discuss many aspects of sexual, ethnic, gendered and political identity and, despite their differences, for the past three years they have united to stride in the Taipei Pride Marches.
From perspectives informed by postcolonialism, studies of science and technology (STS), feminist methodology and contemporary studies of sexuality, I designate this online community as a point of departure in hopes of embarking on an exploration into the 'non-western' and yet highly western-influenced mode of sexuality and technology lived in Taiwan.
My PhD thesis is thus based on reflections upon issues and knowledges of LGBT Internet community, cyberculture, gender and sexuality, cyborg theory, queer theories, postcolonialism, diasporic identity and East Asian studies.
I completed MA in Teknik och Social Förändring (Technology and Social Change) in Linköping Universitet, Linköping, Sweden in 2004, and MA in English and American Literature in National Sun Yat-sen Univeristy, Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 2005. Currently I am a second-year PhD student at Centre for Women's Studies, University of York, UK.
I am under the supervision of Dr. Ann Kaloski-Naylor. My thesis advisory panel members are Professor Stevi Jackson and Professor Roger Burrows. I am funded by ORS Awards Scheme.
Heidi Allene Henrickson
Heidi is completing the finishing touches on her thesis, 'Femininities and Feminisms: Gendering Organisational Behaviours in Women-Only Groups';. Her professional interests include charitable organisations benefiting women, their families and communities. Heidi's activist interests lie in expanding the debate on sexism in so-called egalitarian anti-sexist social movements and creating educational resources for activists in line with anarchist feminism.
This study examines how gender factors in the organisational behaviours of two very different women-only groups. Informed by Acker’s (1990, 1992, 1998) theory of gendered organisation, I identify processes that produce and reproduce gender. In two case studies, using participant observation and supplemental methods, I examine two women-only groups' - a gym and a feminist political action group. The objective of this study is to uncover how and in what ways gender is present in women-only groups and settings and shapes their day-to-day organisational behaviours. It also pressures feminist scholars to integrate their experiences of doing research throughout their documentation and analyses. The gendered processes I found to occur in these two settings include femininity that acted as an organisational tool to guide women’s presentation of self, their expectations, and patterns of interaction in these contexts consistent with gender-appropriate behaviour. Gendered processes also took place through the implementation of women-only space in both sites and the structuration of the feminist political action group, which were framed by localised conceptions of feminist ideology. I illustrate how the expression of femininity in both women-only groups is a mechanism, a medium of communication and interaction that is a skill expected of all members. In addition, I draw from Martin's (1990) 'dimensions of feminist organisations' to show how feminist ideology informs participants' decision-making to participate in women-only groups and in how they enact those groups. Despite the assumption that women organising together will produce stereotypical organisational forms which are inclusive and supportive (or radical and man-hating), I found gendered processes normalised women's behaviour into feminine/feminist moulds and marginalised members who did not fit localised standards. Finally, although I found gendered processes in both sites, the ways in which gender shaped the 'texture of organising' (Brown, 1990, 1992) varied according to the degree to which their memberships shared a concept of 'women-only-ness'.
Rosemary Hill (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Research topic: how do female fans engage with rock and heavy metal music?
In 2005 and 2006 I studied for my MA in Women's Studies at the centre. I learnt so much and felt so nurtured that I decided to continue my studies here. I am now a part-time PhD candidate under the super supervision of Ann Kaloski-Naylor.
My research stems from my interest in rock and heavy metal music. I have always been perturbed by the misogynist language of rock songs and rock journalists. The presentation of 'Viking' masculinity that celebrates violent themes such as war, brutality, sexual and domestic violence, etc, means that my love of rock and metal seems, at times, perverse.
Popular music is a growing site for academic study, and research has generally focussed upon the musicians and the music. Attention is rarely paid to the 'consumers' or fans and it is increasingly recognised this knowledge gap is in need of plugging. Within the culture of rock and metal, female rock fans tend to be caricatured as screaming hysterics or groupies and there is little attempt to take them seriously.
My research, therefore, is an investigation into how the female rock fan engages with the music and the culture. I am analysing metal weekly Kerrang! Magazine, whose readership is now more the 50% female, and I will follow this up by interviewing female readers of the magazine. My aim is to chart the wide variety of experience amongst female fans.
In addition to being a hard-working PhD candidate I sing and play guitar in a feminist rock band with two other women.
Maria Karepova (email@example.com)
I am an MPhil/PhD student at the centre for Women's Studies and I work under the supervision of Gabriele Griffin. I have my BA degree in Clinical Psychology from the Far Eastern National University in Russia and MA in Gender studies from the Central European University in Budapest which I completed in 2007. My desire to reconcile the fields of psychology, sociology and gender studies brought me to York University.
My PhD research focuses on women psychotherapists in Russia and I am particularly interested in the reasons why this profession is female-dominated. Being a student in Clinical Psychology I could not but noticed that most of the staff and students and practitioners in my field were women. The question "why is it a 'female' profession" in Russia becomes even more interesting taking into consideration the historical and cultural aspects of the process of development of psychotherapy in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As it is, psychotherapy in Russia developed partly under the influence of Western therapeutic approaches and at the same time it is closely related to the fields of Russian psychiatry and psychology both of the disciplines having their own controversial histories.
In my study I attempt to show what cultural and historical specificities influence the process of feminization of this occupation, how the gender distribution influences the profession in itself and what meanings and consequences the female domination in psychotherapy has in a broader sociological context.
Apart from doing my PhD I am a musician and I have been singing professionally for about 6 years (different styles but mostly jazz) which I think enriches my experience and brings interesting angles into my academic life and work.
Sun Nam Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dissertation Title: Heterosexual Intimacy and Narratives of Divorce
My proposed dissertation attempts to analyse the wider public discourse of 'family breakdown' in South Korea. In particular, I will pay attention to the ways in which the decline of traditional patriarchal gender relations, and the consequent rise of divorce rates, are seen as the main influence of the changes to the family structure today.
Sun Nam's mug
Particularly relevant here is Giddens's study on 'the transformation of intimacy'. Giddens sees that today's heterosexual family life is based on equality between men and women. The society moves towards relationships based on emotional communication rather than institutionally given gender roles, providing frameworks for democratizing personal life. This process is then closely related to his accounts of the present 'separative and divorcing society'. For Giddens, both heterosexual marriage and divorce in contemporary society are internally bound, which argues that relationships are now only maintained through efforts - on both sides - to provide sufficient emotional satisfaction for each other. This, in turn, explains why there exist high rates of marriage breakdown: as a contrast with earlier notions of marriage as role and obligation, the contemporary heterosexual relationship is inherently fragile as both men and women are willing to end the marital relationship if mutual emotional support and pleasure for both partners do not exist any longer. Although this explanation may reflect a part of a current trend in contemporary heterosexual relationships, a number of studies suggest that gendered inequalities still remain a great matter of debate in heterosexual intimacy. The story of intimacy is further complicated by social factors such as class, education or social status that may shape meanings and practices of intimacy, in ways largely ignored by Giddens. My study attempts to analyse those dimensions and contexts missing in Giddens's accounts for contemporary heterosexual intimacy through the case study based on narratives offered by men and women who are divorced in South Korea. To this end, I use qualitative interview data. The sample consists of female and male divorcees of different ages, education, employment and class to explore discrepancies in their narratives of divorce. I find participants through newspaper advertisements in combination with the snowballing method. By exploring the ways in which gender mediates how people talk about the process of uncoupling as well as their motives for divorce, I hope to explore the context in which contemporary heterosexual intimacy is lived, experienced, and has changed in 21st century Korean society.
Sanja Kurd (email@example.com)
I was born in Bosnia and lived there until 1992. I have been living in the UK ever since. I took a break from being a full time mother and returned to academia in 2004 to do a MA in Islamic Studies which I completed with a distinction. This motivated me to embark on the PhD course at the Centre for Women Studies, here in York. I have been awarded Collaborative Research Studentship by the AHRC/ESRC Religion & Society Programme which fully funds my PhD.
My main interest is Islam and Muslim Women's identity. Working on my MA dissertation (which dealt with Muslim women's identity in Bosnia in the period 1950-2000) it became clear that little is known about the Bosnian Muslim women beyond the commonly perceived image of war rape victims. Similarly, in rest of the Europe, Muslim women feel like outsiders and are often portrayed negatively and stereotypically by the media. However, latest studies (Franks, 2004; Afshar, 2005; She Who Disputes, 2006) have shown that Muslim women are refusing their 'ascribed' identities and are negotiating their 'otherness' in the society within different contexts (cultural, political and educational). There is also noticeable emergence of European Muslim women who actively embrace Muslim/Islamic identity. For example, recent articles, titled "Women of Birminghamabad [Birmingham, UK] find identity" and "War brought Bosnian Muslim women back to Islam" from Financial Times (September, 2007) and Reuters (May, 2007) respectively, are imbued with meanings and questions.
My thesis explores these new articulations. It is a comparative study analysing Muslim women's identities in Bosnia and UK. It focuses on the agency of Muslim women in shaping their identities in the context of the legacies of violence. The violence (the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the 9/11 and 7/7 in the UK) has imposed national and ethnic categories on women that define them primarily in terms of their religious backgrounds as Bosnjaks/Muslims or British Muslims. The aim of my PhD is to explore the specific ways that faith and gender relations are re-formulated to meet the perceived needs of Muslim women.
Angelica Liu (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am a first year PhD student at the Centre for Women's Studies at the University of York. I joined in the centre in January 2007 after completing my BA (Hons) in Society, Culture and Media at the University of East Anglia. My PhD thesis is titled 'The Reception of Contemporary Chinese Women Glam-writers and Their Work in China', and is supervised by Professor Stevi Jackson and Professor Gabriele Griffin.
My research investigates how contemporary Chinese women writers and their work are received in mainland China. I am mainly focusing on the reception from the three parts: the reception by the literary critics, by the readers, and in the authors' blog chatting. I am particularly interested in examining the reception in the authors' blog chatting as the establishment of literary celebrities' blogs emerged as a recent cultural phenomenon has attracted much attention from scholars, critics, as well as the commercial industry. The female authors are at the same time individualized and de-individualized through adopting identical blog models under the same domain. My methodologies involve an empirical research of interviewing a group of Chinese readers, asking them about their views and opinions of the women writers and their novels in contemporary China.
Kate Maclean (email@example.com)
After graduating from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in Philosophy (1997), I taught philosophy and English in Bangkok for two years, then moved to Barcelona where I continued to teach as well as translate and manage an English department. I returned to the UK in 2003 to do an MSc in Women, Development and Administration here at the University of York. I was able, with the support of the CWS, to stay on to do my PhD entitled 'Indigenous Women and Microfinance: Social Inclusion and Citizenship in Bolivia.' This research is fully funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and supervised by Prof Haleh Afshar.
My thesis looks at microfinance as a rural development strategy and examines whether or not access to credit may provide a space for rural Aymaran women to negotiate better terms for their citizenship within a market led development trajectory. The uses to which women put credit and their concerns regarding investment and debt shed light on different ideas of citizenship and priorities occurring in the mainstream and rural areas. There is tension between the competitive demands of a liberal market and women's lives in cooperative, land based rural communities. Microfinance Institutions' provision of credit may address this tension by using solidarity group lending which, despite being market and production focussed, may be more compatible with the cooperative dynamic of rural areas. In order to analyse this further, I explore the fluid identities of women from the municipality of Luribay as their activities take them from rural communities to the more competitive town and cities. I examine the income generating strategies and skills which women employ in these varying contexts. Bearing in mind the capacities and responsibilities of women from Luribay, I consider to what extent microfinance could be used as a strategy for them to achieve their aims.
This research is based on 7 months fieldwork in the valley of Luribay, Bolivia, where I lived and worked with microfinance beneficiaries. I used participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups. I had previously conducted pilot studies with microfinance beneficiaries in Mali and Burkina Faso in 2005. Translation is of particular methodological concern as I carried out my research in Spanish with participants whose native language was Aymara. Not only is language a political issue in pluricultural Bolivia, but the politics of translation exposes ethical and epistemological dilemmas inherent in feminist cross-cultural research.
Laura E MacDonald
My research examines women's work in the
Inverness-shire and Ross-shire areas of the Scottish Highlands c. 1740-1820. Women have been almost wholly omitted from work on the eighteenth-century Highlands, yet this was a period of great economic, political and social change. My study concentrates not only on the nature of women's work but also on the themes of continuity and change in that work and I argue that women were vital to the Highland economy.
The late eighteenth century was a period of intense government and fiscal intervention in the Highland economy and social structure and I attempt to show how this affected the nature of women's work and existing gendered divisions of labour (and conversely to see it the existing situation affected the nature of intervention). Although not finalised, it is most likely that I will discuss these themes under the broad topics of Textiles (arguably the most important industry in the Highlands at this time), agriculture, fishing and the kelp industry and urban work (concentrating on Inverness as the main urban centre).
Laura J McDonald
Interests: Islam, women, feminisms,
identity, religious conversion
MA Social Anthropology,
University of St Andrews
My research focuses on the relationship
between Islam, feminisms and identity,
and the way these relationships impact
on women. These themes converge with
qualitative fieldwork involving interviews
with British women who have converted to Islam.
More specifically, the thesis explores the concept of feminism and the various interpretations of relations between Islamic and feminist understandings of women and their rights. I argue that classical Islam promotes views that encompass the ideals of recent feminist writings centred on agency, choice and difference. It is suggested that activism from this perspective must concentrate on pushing theory into practice.
Exploring and unpacking the opinions of British women who have converted to Islam, the thesis relates the Islamic/feminist dialogue to the process of conversion and the negotiation of women's identity. Women who participated in the fieldwork have shifted the boundaries and definitions of their identity as Muslims, women and Britons. Discussions include the impact of hijab as a strong and contested marker of Islam, women and identity and the generating of culture through the generation of self and community.
Cirihn Malpocher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After having completed my MA dissertation on experimental feminist methodology - epistemological claims and implications confronted/explored during research interviews with overseas students and a community art exhibition I curated - I decided to continue on with my interest in art, theory and (socio)cutural studies here at York.
For my PhD research, I am interested in investigating the intersections of technology, particularly the mobile phone, visual culture and embodiment. To be specific, I hold the view that technology is prosthetic, and I seek to explore the culture of the mobile camera phone - how it's been used in cases of abuse/sexual assult (in the UK, photographing then texting/uploading then circulating via email), crime prevention (terrorist activities /'policing', i.e. photographing the London bombings), and pleasure (snapshots and 'erotic fun') - and how this form of technology mediates/constitutes our understandings of (our) bodies in a growing technological climate that challenges concepts of privacy, access, safety and privilege.
In addition, because the information that is being communicated through the use of the mobile camera phone is primarily image-based, a large part of my resarch is focused on thinking critically about visual culture, including the meaning-making that is unique to the ways in which these types of images are situated in a technological and communicative framework.
Thus, perhaps obviously, my PhD work is truly interdisciplinary in nature, combining the fields of Sociology, Visual, Cutural and Communication Studies, Technology, Literary and Visual Analysis, Popular Culture, and Feminism/Feminist Theory. Although a hefty mixture, is my hope that my work will, like my MA, contribute to developing conversations about the importance of alternative/interdisciplinary methodologies, research and thinking within academia.
Lingling Mao (email@example.com)
With a background of journalism study and work experience, I am now focusing my interest in women's study. My project will explore the 1960s generation of Chinese women, who have lived through more historical upheavals than any other generation in Chinese modern history. Born during the early years of the Cultural Revolution, this biological generation coincided with a political generation. For China, 'political time' is of crucial importance to the understanding of state, politics and everyday life, thus this generation of women, on whom political changes have had a major impact, offer important insights into contemporary Chinese life.
There is no prior systematic research on the 1960s generation. My research will combine life narratives with theoretical analysis. I will employ a qualitative methodology: reflexive ethnography, modeled by Charlotte Davies. Beginning from a set of research questions on gendering generational change, I will adopt and adapt theoretical explanations (modernization theory, Marxism, feminism and globalisation theory) as a part of the ongoing interplay between theorizing and collecting data.
Jody Mellor (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I completed my BA (Hons) Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Durham, and my MA in Social Research Methods at the University of Newcastle, and then came to the University of York for the PhD, which is ESRC funded. I am now writing up my PhD, the title of which is "The Intersections between Class, Ethnicity and Faith: Muslim and non-Muslim Women". I carried out in-depth interviews and a focus group in 2004-5 with 26 women, including Muslims (of Pakistani origin, 2nd and 3rd generation) and non-Muslims (white British, without faith).
The thesis explores class and how it is intersected by ethnicity and faith for working class women in higher education. Presently in the UK there has been a resurgence of interest in class, led in the main by feminist social scientists (eg. Skeggs 2004; Lawler 2000; Walkerdine 2001). The advantage of class analyses stemming from a feminist perspective is that the class-gender intersection is at the core. However, race, faith and ethnicity do not occupy a significant place in this revival of class in the UK. The implication is that class analyses are based almost solely on the British white (and non-religious) community.
This summer I took part in the ESRC oversees institutional visit, and I spent three months in the US (New York and Ohio). In September 06 I attended the European Women's Studies Conference, in Poland, and the EURODIV conference in Belgium. Now I have the 'travel bug' and would like to work overseas when I complete The Thesis. Other interests include Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, sexuality and political lesbianism, the sociology of music and the sociology of childhood. I work part time as a module author and tutor for a distance learning degree, and teach sociology to undergraduates at The University of York. In my spare time I learn Italian and hope soon to start Arabic lessons.
Hiranmayee Mishra (email@example.com)
I got my Mphil. Degree long back in 1992 and joined a college as a lecturer. It was a rural based college and I had to stay there. As I was brought up in an urban society, a whole new world of experiences was unfolded before me. In 1992, the 73 rd Amendment to the Indian constitution provided for a one-third reservation of seats for women in Panchayati Raj Institutions, Indian brand of rural local self government units. Speculations about this huge number were on the air as women were just pushed into the politics on seats on quota, to maintain the hold of the traditional male power holders.
Living in a rural area and teaching to young rural girls gave me the rare opportunity to observe keenly and from a very close angle the gradual revolution in the minds of those rural women which came as a result of this important intervention of the state. The rural women of India, who were mostly poor and illiterates were determined to change their images of docile, voiceless and submissive second class citizens and with the help of their male members of family were coping magnificently with their new responsibilities. The observations of the researchers of the beginning years that they were ‘proxy women’ (controlled by male family members) were proved to be wrong and this created an interest in me to come back to my studies as a regular student after a long gap of fifteen years. I qualified for a fellowship of the International Ford Foundation which brought me to United Kingdom. I felt privileged to get to opportunity to work with my supervisor, Prof. Haleh Afshar and joined CWS, as a PhD. Student in October, 2007. I am looking at the different barriers faced by women of rural India in exercising their power in the decision making level in the lowest level of Panchayati Raj Institutions (the Gram Panchayats) along with their effectiveness with a guaranteed number of seats on quota for them and their struggles to make this quantitative representation into a qualitative one. The experience of the last two years, here at CWS has been really rewarding and amazing for me.
Pranati Mohanraj (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After completing my master's degree in Social Work I worked in the Department of Education, Government of Madhya Pradesh, the central state of India for nine years.
Working with this department gave me ample opportunity to visit several villages of Madhya Pradesh and interact with members of families specially women. What struck me the most was that the status of women and girls in this part of India is low, not only due to prevailing poor economic conditions, but due to social isolation and manifold discriminatory practices faced by them. The lower literacy amongst women and lack of access to education of girls are only the symptoms of the larger problems found in traditional rural communities.
I, through my research project intend to identify and analyse various social, cultural and ethnic factors inhibiting education of girls and to have an in-depth probe on the issues of non-enrolment of girls in school. The study will analyse various factors such as household-community level barriers, school-level barriers and policy as well as system-level barriers affecting education of girls' and identify reasons for prevailing low enrolment amongst girls in central India.
Jessica Murray (email@example.com)
My name is Jessica Murray and I am following the MPhil/ PhD programme in Gender Studies at York University. I completed my BA and MPhil at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Funding from the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission has given me the opportunity to do my doctorate research at York University.
My masters thesis explored intersections of language, landscape and the violated female body in the texts of the Zimbabwean author Yvonne Vera. In novels such as Nehanda, Butterfly Burning, Without a Name, Under the Tongue and The Stone Virgins, Vera has shown that the discourses of nationalism, as well as the representation of the Zimbabwean landscape and the construction of womanhood, have conspired to create an environment that is particularly conducive to gender violence. For my PhD dissertation, my research will continue to focus on Vera's oeuvre. I am particularly interested in furthering my examination of Vera's style of writing. It is my contention that Vera is creating a new discourse that is uniquely able to articulate the female experience of gender violence. Her style of writing is particularly important as it facilitates an intimacy between Vera's characters and her readers that confronts readers with the extent of abuse suffered by the characters, but without allowing the alienation and distance that results when readers are confronted with a mere litany of horrors. The strategies Vera utilises in her development of an alternative discourse are myriad. They include the deconstruction of traditional binary oppositions that pervade language, the incorporation of orality, the fusion of poetry and prose, and the use of forms of magic realism.
Petra Nordqvist (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I am pursuing a PhD at the Centre for Women's Studies (2006-2009) in which I study lesbian couples' narratives of conceiving together using donor insemination and/or IVF. My supervisor for the PhD is Professor of Health Sciences Hilary Graham. I have a background in Gender Studies and Sociology (BA and MA equivalent) at the University of Lund, Sweden, and an MA in Women's Studies (Social Research) (2005-2006) at the Centre for Women's Studies, University of York.
My study takes a specific interest in the ambiguous social, political and cultural position of lesbian couples who conceive together using donor insemination and/or IVF. Reproductive technologies can be understood as foundational to lesbian couples' conceptions, and categories of motherhood and fatherhood are in many cases optional and multiple. I aim to explore the way in which discourses of parenthood, relatedness, conception and normality figure as interpretive cultural resources within women's narratives, and to explore the way in which the experience of conception is narrated.
The aim of this doctoral study is twofold. It partly aims to investigate the absence of lesbian reproduction as evidential in a review of the literature and partly it aims to address this gap by undertaking an exploratory empirical study. For both parts of the study, a qualitative narrative methodology is deployed. In the empirical investigation, I carry out semi-structured narrative interviews with lesbian couples in England and Wales, who are in one or more stages of the process of conception, or who have already become parents.
This research is supported by an ESCR doctoral award (ESRC Award Number PTA-031-2006-00503) and has been generously supported by the British Sociological Association Support Fund.
Irene Perez Fernandez (email@example.com)
I came to the Centre in October 2007 after completing a degree in English Philology and an MA in Women's Studies at the Universidad de Oviedo (Spain). I am a PhD visiting student and Centre for Women's Studies has greatly opened my opportunities of carry on with my research.
My area of research is contemporary African/Caribbean-British and Asian-British women novelists. My MA dissertation studied space a social construct and focused on the direct relation that is established between the spatial and the social. In this respect, the dissertation pointed out the importance of revealing the ways by which space becomes a means of maintaining a social order that sanctions asymmetric relations between the sexes and between men and space and women and space. Nowadays, I examine the way in which space is presented, represented and contested in the works of contemporary novelists such as: Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, Jackie Kay, Diana Evans and Andrea Levy.
Julie Palmer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Visible Techno-Foetus: Obstetric Ultrasound and Its Non-Medical Significances in Everyday Culture. My research is concerned with obstetric ultrasound images as they appear beyond the medical context. Through textual readings of a pregnancy blog, a television documentary about the UK abortion debate, and observations of the performance of commercial, three-dimensional scans, I explore how and what ultrasound images mean in everyday culture.
I am interested in the multiplicity of meanings that sonograms have and the many connections (and disconnections) that are forged in discourse between sonograms and women's bodies as well as the social context of childbearing. The research is located in the context of a history of feminist scholarship around foetal imaging that is concerned with the political implications of public foetal images for cultural understanding of women's bodies, pregnancy and reproductive rights. My research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
I completed my PhD thesis in summer 2007. I intend to continue my research into commercial, three-dimensional 'bonding scans'. I am currently a tutor for the VLE (virtual learning environment) component of 'Collaborative Networking in Humanities Women's and Gender Studies'
Janet Peukert (email@example.com)
I came to the Centre for Women's Studies at the University of York with a psychology degree from the University of Maryland. I re- entered the academic environment after 15 years of running my own language school in Germany. The Centre has been providing me with a wonderful space for engaging with feminist theory and for developing my critical and analytical skills. My PhD is entitled "Constrained Agency: British Heterosexual Mothers of Homosexual Sons" and is supervised by Professor Stevi Jackson.
My thesis investigates the narratives that mothers use to shape their "mothering" and their understanding of themselves as mothers of homosexual sons. A crucial part of this project is exposing and critiquing the unspoken mandate of heteronormativity which posits the nuclear, heterosexual family as the raw material through which society interprets and imagines itself. Within this schema, the "good" wife and mother has traditionally been expected to bear the responsibility for the successful, "normal" (read heterosexual) upbringing of their children. My research is interdisciplinary in nature and I conducted 25 interviews on a one-to-one basis. The sensitive subject matter made this a "hard to reach" group and necessitated that the interviews be handled with considerable tact. I needed to establish trust and reciprocity to enable the interviewees to share highly personal information. The narratives then constituted the data that became the object of my qualitative analysis. This research focuses on giving the mothers of homosexual sons an opportunity to articulate their experiences of mothering and I see my role as facilitating this process of listening to stories that have been ignored for far too long.
Anna Piela (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I completed my MA in Politics (MA dissertation - 'The Aegean Dispute
in the Greek-Turkish Relations') and
BSc in Electronic Data Processing at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Currently I am pursuing my PhD here in York. I am supervised by Dr Ann Kaloski-Naylor and Professor Haleh Afshar
The aim of my research is to investigate the Internet as a facilitator of women's roles in Islamic revivalism, a complex movement which stresses the importance of the sources of Islam. Some Muslim women believe that the Qur'an has been misunderstood and misapplied, and that its existing patriarchal misinterpretations need to be reevaluated. These women are developing new readings that allow Muslims to argue against patriarchy from within an Islamic framework (Barlas, 2002). The Internet has made information more available as well as connecting geographically dispersed individuals, and it thus offers many possibilities for interaction and exchange of knowledge. I examine the discussions of Muslim women who come together online to explore, learn and interpret the Qur'an and other Islamic sources.
My research methodology involves a) careful reading and analysis of posts sent to women-only Muslim English-speaking newsgroups (to which I have been granted ethical access) and b) follow-up, in depth interviews with a select group of women drawn from the newsgroups. My key research questions are: What kinds of perspectives on Islam are being developed by Muslim women by the use of these newsgroups? And how does the Internet facilitate this? In subsidiary questions I consider the impact of the Internet on Muslim women's sense of their identities and I also reflect on the implications of the use of the English language in their online discussions.
My theoretical tools are interdisciplinary, ranging across internet studies and work on contemporary religion, and underpinned by feminist perspectives which take seriously the role of the researcher and the power dynamics of the research process. I am also keen to develop ways of allowing the participants to shape the form of the research project by a critical and sensitive approach to their viewpoints.
While an increasing amount of work is being undertaken on the implications of Islamic revivalism, on the role of the internet in facilitating this, my research is, surprisingly, the first to focus exclusively on Muslim women's English-language online discussion. Its importance lies in the fact that these English language sites not only bring together Muslims from many different countries, but that they also act as a 'window' to Muslim ideas for the huge, westernised, English-speaking world.
Meghan Reid (email@example.com)
I came to the Centre for Women's Studies at York after completing a BA in psychology and women's studies at McDaniel College, a small liberal arts college in the United States. I particularly enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of my degree, and thus decided to continue my own study of sex and gender in my PhD by drawing on research in feminist theory, sociology of science, social psychology and evolutionary theory.
In my thesis, I examine how sex as a physical category is constructed in popular science discourse, focusing on evolutionary psychology's account of sex differences in romantic jealousy. Evolutionary psychologists claim that, because of varying fitness pressures on ancestral humans, women and men today are distressed differentially by sexual and emotional infidelity. They say this 'difference' is part of a wider set of sex differences, all of which they portray as natural and fixed. I am taking a three-pronged approach to this study: first, I closely analyse evolutionary psychology's methodology and claims about romantic jealousy. Secondly, through close readings of popular evolutionary psychology and self-help texts, I examine what sorts of knowledge claims are being made about sexed brains and behaviours within the public sphere, and how those claims are presented. Finally, I have run focus groups to investigate how evolutionary psychology's claims about the 'naturalness' of sexed behaviour are reproduced, reinterpreted, or contested by the lay public in discussions about romantic jealousy and sex differences in general. Therefore, I hope to not only critique evolutionary psychology's account of sex, but also critique the sex/gender distinction by outlining one way in which 'sex' is socially constructed in dominant discourse and in everyday life.
Besides evaluating evolutionary psychology, I am also interested in romantic relationships in general; I am especially interested in issues of commitment/infidelity, and in the 'growing pains' of adolescent/young adult romantic relationships.
Lee Ronald (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I originally returned to university in 1997 as a mature student (aged 33) and haven't been able to stop studying since! My background is a BA(hons) in English Studies and Art History from Oxford Brookes University, an MA in Gender Studies from the University of Leeds and current research for a Phd in Women's Studies here at York. I especially enjoy the eclectic environment of a women's studies department, finding that my own work treads a fine line between English and philosophy. Studying here allows me to do that and also to foreground the importance of gender in my arguments.
My thesis looks at sensuality and how we might come to know sensuality 'differently', understanding it from more of an epistemological standpoint than the usually given 'natural' or ontological angle. I am currently looking at sensuality through the realms of bodies and language, making an effort to situate the sensual through the reading body. The concept of 'reading' has already formed a major part of my academic work; I have written theses on reading women's writing and the possibility of a readerly queer. One of my papers on reading and queer theory (shortlisted for the Women's Studies Network Prize 2004) is available online at www.bridgew.edu/SoAS/jiws/Mar04/Ronald.pdf As well as reading and researching and mulling over ideas as I wander round the lake conversing with the ducks, I also enjoy renovating my cottage, travel, web design and all forms of chocolate.
Tove Solander (email@example.com)
I am a Swede with a background in different Humanities subjects such as Literature and Gender Research, who is carrying out the first year of my PhD studies here at the Centre for Women's Studies in York with the aid of a one-year Marie Curie Fellowship. I am fascinated with interdisciplinary research in the area of cultural studies, as well as with queer theory and queer activism.
I love theory, both reading and writing it, though I want it to be engaged and embodied theory and am bored with abstract philosophical speculation. I am also quite an obsessive person, which could be either good or bad for my research, depending on my current favourite obsession. My research is about the contemporary American feminist author Shelley Jackson, most famous for her pioneering digital hypertext Patchwork Girl and her short story "Skin" tattooed word for word on some two thousand volunteers, although she is also published in print. I plan for my PhD dissertation to be a monography dealing with all of her major works, but for the thesis I'm writing during my year in York I'm going to concentrate on her three hypertexts Patchwork Girl, My Body and Doll Games. I'm also going to write my thesis in hypertext form, which is an exciting adventure, though potentially frustrating with all the coding that needs to be done apart from the actual writing.
What intrigues me most about Jackson's work is her intense preoccupation with the body and the material aspects of human existence, and how she manages to combine this with a bend for theory. I'm interested in putting her attention to the body in a feminist context of autobiographical writing and ecriture féminine, and also to see how it differs from this tradition. I'd like to argue that Jackson queers this feminist discourse through focusing not upon the most thoroughly gendered and symbolised aspects of the body, but upon more neglected body parts and bodily processes and experiences - some of which are fantastical. Her goal is not to write the truth about women's embodied experience, but rather to alter reality through her intensely visceral writing, a utopian project I find more interesting.
Liz Sourbut (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I have a BSc in physics from Durham University (1985) and an MA in Women's Studies from the University of York (1994). After many years of self-employment as a maths and physics tutor and writer/critic of science fiction I've returned to academia to study on the MPhil/DPhil programme at York, funded by the Wellcome Trust.
My research is interdisciplinary in nature, combining political philosophy with the sociology of science and technology and medical bioethics. The aim of my project is to explore the philosophical and ethical issues raised by rapid advances in reproductive and genetic technologies. My central question is: can the liberal concept of property in the person be adapted or extended to cope with the dispersion of body parts inherent in gamete donation, surrogacy, the freezing and storage of embryos, etc? If not, what should replace it? I will look at specific cases where conflicts of interest have occurred between two or more potential parents, and consider to what extent the resolution of those conflicts appeal to traditional ideas of property, contract and individuals. If we do not own our bodies, in what relation do we stand to them, and on what basis can the important decisions about reproductive choices be made?
The liberal view is that contracts, if freely entered into, legitimize market transactions and that, since we own a property in our person, bodies and labour power are subject to contract. Since my concern is precisely with this liberal assumption that we have a property in our person, I shall be centrally concerned with such questions as: How widespread is the commodification of human genetic material, and does it alter our perceptions of pregnancy and childbirth? Is the market a suitable mechanism for deciding which babies are born and which are not? Advances in medical technologies are occurring rapidly, and it's important that the ethical debate keeps up with the new possibilities opened up by these techniques. I hope that my research will contribute to these debates.
Corinna Tomrley (email@example.com)
With starry aspirations in my eyes to be a filmmaker, I completed a BA in film and video - a practical degree - way back in the '90s at what is now called The University of the Arts in London. There I had the opportunity to make a couple of experimental vampire movies and in my final year majored in direction and minored in sound recording and editing. My undergraduate dissertation contributed to the canon of Madonna Studies when I explored the journalistic and academic reception to her particular star image.
Deciding that I didn't want to direct movies anymore but just watch them & write about them, I pursued my interest in cinema at a more theoretical level by completing a popular culture MA with the Open University, majoring in popular American cinema. My dissertation looked at the Hollywood musical (circa 60s & 70s) from a socio-cultural context, questioning the utopian escapism associated with musicals and the musical number. The wider cultural studies aspect of the popular culture degree really whetted my academic appetite & drew me to an interest in discourses as negotiated through popular culture texts, mediums and their audiences. With the invaluable help and support of this very Centre, I secured ESRC funding for a 1+3 (MA in social research & PhD), leading to the straddling of interdisciplinary approaches between cultural studies and sociology.
My doctoral research explores how women make sense of discourses on fatness in celebrity gossip magazines such as Heat, Now and Closer; and 'fatness' - both in the magazines and my research - covers everything from 'skinny' (think size zero) to 'big and proud', encompassing all the shapes and sizes in between. This work is looking to uncover the magazines' intersections with and divergences from ideas of fatness in wider popular culture. I am also interested in interrogating discourses on health and appearance, fatness and skinniness by examining and contesting the concept of an 'obesity epidemic' and fat/thin as un/healthy and un/attractive. As well as the idea that we can see that a body is un/healthy I am exploring the concept that we can know the inner person (morally, emotionally) from the outer body. I am conducting textual analysis of the magazines, along side interviewing women who look at them, asking why they like them and what they think about the body gossip and discourses on fatness within them. My work falls into the emerging discipline of Fat Studies, an interdisciplinary academic and political area which confronts and critiques cultural constraints against notions of fatness and the fat body, with an aim to create social change around issues of weight oppression, through promoting size acceptance and body diversity. Seeing a need to bring together the varied work of activists and academics working within this discipline in the UK, I am organising a one-day discussion workshop on fat activism and academia for 2008.
I teach on the new MA in Film, Television and Society at the freshly formed Department of Theatre, Film and Television at York, as well as for the Centre for Lifelong Learning.
I have a website (http://www.corinna-tomrlova.squarespace.com), where amongst other things I post pieces of writing I scribble (short stories, the occasional poem, opinion pieces and artist profiles) and create picture galleries of pop culture iconographic interest. You can also see my attempts at filmmaking; those very vampire movies mentioned above. Viewing these efforts might answer why I moved away from practical filmmaking and into academia. I have been an actress and co-writer in a community theatre group, voice-over artist (extremely briefly) and spoken-word performer. I've made a stop-start (mainly stop) attempt at being a cabaret singer and have dipped my toe into the murky depths of music journalism.
Christine Vogt-William (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Christine Vogt-William was born and grew up in Singapore. She moved to Germany at the age of 19 and studied English, German and Psychology at the University of Essen, where she won the German Academic Exchange Services award for Best Foreign Student in 1996 and the Coca-Cola Prize for the Best Masters' Thesis in 1998.
She received her MA in English in 1998 and moved to Frankfurt in 1999, where she worked as an English language teacher, a translation editor and a foreign language correspondent. She is currently doing a PhD in Indian diasporic women's writing at the NELK department at the University of Frankfurt, where she works as a junior lecturer and research assistant. She has published in the field of Indian diasporic women's literature. In the summer of 2005, Ms. Vogt-William received two short research scholarships from the German Academic Exchange Services as well as the International Canadian Council of Studies for a 3-month stay in Canada, where she was engaged in in-depth research on Indo-Canadian women writers at the University of Toronto. She has just received a Marie Curie Gender Graduate Fellowship to spend a year at the University of York, UK, where she will be working closely with Prof. Gabriele Griffin in the fields of gender and diasporic studies. Other fields of academic interest include Indo-Caribbean women's poetry, Bollywood film, Asian diasporic fusion music, the works of the Brontes and Jane Austen as well as J.R.R.Tolkien's fantasy works.
Transcultural Female Subjectivities in Contemporary Fictional Works of Indian Women Writers of the Diaspora
My project focuses on diasporic writing by Indian women writers set in the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century in Canada, the USA and England. The Indian diasporic women authors who wrote the novels published in this time period were part of the post-WWII and post-1960 migratory movements to England and the North American continent respectively. Vijay Mishra calls this Indian diaspora the new 'border' diaspora, one of the 'the mid- to late twentieth century diasporas [.] to the metropolitan centres of the Empire [.] and former settler colonies.'(1) These novels show Indian diasporic women in various stages of migration, where the strategies of adaptation and integration employed by these protagonists evince elements of transculturality along with its inherent ambivalences.
The following questions will be considered in the course of my project: Who belongs to the Indian diaspora? Is diaspora imposed exile or voluntary leaving of all that is familiar? What are the different constellations or permutations of diaspora? Is migration always painful? Can diasporic experience be celebratory? Where is home for Indian diasporic women? When can Indian women stop being referred to as diasporics and immigrants? When do these Indian women finally belong to the countries they have chosen to migrate to or were born into? Why do Indian diasporic women writers write about diasporic experience? Does writing help to clarify or relieve obvious discomforts? Does diasporic literature rely on a particular sensibility in order to manifest itself?
The novels I have chosen to analyse are written by Indian women of the diaspora who are involved in feminist activist organizations and who are just as prolific in the areas of postcolonial, gender and diasporic studies in academia as they are in producing creative fiction. Their own perceived realities in their respective diasporic situations have contributed to the shaping of their creative works. The following issues are addressed: how Indian diasporic women experience diasporic life, how they express these experiences; how their diverse and subjective viewpoints are presented and whether these diversities and subjectivities are intrinsic to transcultural perspectives and practices. In my readings of Indian women's diasporic novels I find that transcultural strategies are very much engaged with in the process of forming autonomous female subjectivities. Thus, along with theories of transculturality and diaspora, feminist issues and gender aspects will play prominent roles in my readings of the novels, especially pertaining to generational conflicts, familial relationships, marriage and female sexuality.
In view of recent wider social debates in European (and other Western) countries involving migratory politics and the diverse grades of integration of the various diasporic communities, a remarkable emphasis on gender politics has come to the fore. The cultural frameworks of the diverse diasporic situations as well as the mainstream societies of the host countries have been made into arenas where women's rights are addressed and negotiated both on personal and public planes. Issues include 'honour killings' evident in Muslim and South Asian communities in the UK and Sweden, for example, as well as in Canada and the USA; female genital mutilation especially in the African diasporic communities of Germany, France and the Netherlands; the headscarf debates in Germany, France and Switzerland. Female subjectivity with regard to cultural perceptions of sexuality and community honour forms the crux of such public debates, which often focus on collective levels as if every diasporic subject had the same experience. Discussions are often conducted by visible mainstream public figures, while members of the diasporic communities themselves often remain unheard and unseen. The issues mentioned frequently serve as examples of problematic integration; indeed they are connected to the overarching problem of female emancipation both in Europe and on the North American continent and are frequently cited as touchstones for the degree of integration achieved.
My project is not intended to be a conclusive cultural anthropological document on the experiences of Indian women of the diaspora refracted through my readings of these fictional works. Rather I consider my work as supplementing the palette of academic work being produced on diasporic gender issues, by providing a range of Indian perspectives from within the literary texts as well as the possible viewpoints of the authors, using the transcultural paradigm. These highly individualised literary analyses dealing with multifarious manifestations of Indian diasporic women's lives, could be read as a counterpoint to mainstream readings, which very often tend to propagate already existing stereotypical ways of thinking. This ties in with the general scholarly trend away from postcolonial feminist interpretations towards a more transcultural feminist reading of Indian diasporas - a re-grounding, as it were, of postcolonial and transcultural approaches in close readings of actual individual texts.
I believe that my project will contribute to the general comprehension of transcultural identificatory processes and identity politics of Indian women of the diaspora, whereby the study of their novels will, in my opinion, provide a suitable context for the understanding of transcultural creativity. Regarding what is a significant part of the current mainstream literary output of Great Britain, Canada and the USA, my work considers the plausibility of an increasing tendency in these countries towards a more transcultural outlook in women's literature in English in the world today.
Yi-Han Wang (email@example.com)
My name is Yi-Han Wang(Eva is my English name). I come from Taiwan. Before coming here, I completed an MA programme in Taiwan, with 'Counseling & Guidance' as my major. During the period of my Master's study, I took courses on gender and was inspired by them. Gender is everywhere! However, the thought that I just had fragmentary understandings of gender left me feeling regretful. I therefore decided to come here to develop a fuller understanding of gender and to study Women's Studies in depth.
My research is about the meaning of home for mail-order brides(MOBs). In Taiwan, the number of MOBs has recently increased dramatically. It appears to be very easy for men to obtain a MOB, as long as they pay enough money to MOB agencies. Given the forces of nationalism, capitalism and racism, the situation of such MOBs is becoming more and more difficult. This kind of matchmaking marriage is based on profit. As such, the MOB system has developed racial and social meanings: females involved in MOB agencies are typically from underdeveloped countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, while males are typically from developed countries such as Britain, Canada, and Taiwan). Some research has found that the MOB is frequently stigmatized and discriminated against, and that many suffer violent treatment from their husbands. I hope to invite MOBs to be the subject of discussions about the meaning of home for them. Home not only reflects substantial, cultural and social relations but also has special meanings for the MOB, as her main space and the central point in her life. Using a qualitative research approach, I will collect and analyse data. I hope the research might somehow redress the inferior position of the MOB, while also enabling me to re-think myself through reflecting on the meaning of home. (Because now I also live in a foreign land!).
Wenchao Wei (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I started in November 2007 as a PhD student at the center of Women's Studies at the University of York. I graduated from the University of Northampton in July 2007 and received my MA degree in Women's Studies (dissertation topic was about globalisation, industralisation and their influence on China's female rural-to-urban migrants).
With my doctorial research I want to explore the migration experiences of women from mainland China; I plan to focus on the job crisis in which most Chinese female migrants are caught in the hosting country. In particular, I will explore the pressures they encounter from both their families and outside society when looking for a suitable job, providing some explanations on the obstacles which stop the group who were highly educated skilled professionals in China from finding a suitable job. Other research interest include: gender and violence, global citizenship, transnational marriage, and gender, development and social change in China.
Zhang Xie (email@example.com)
I became a Ph.D. student of Centre for Women's studies in University of York in 2006. I got my BA degree in Communication studies in 2002. After I graduated, I worked on a women's talk show program in a TV production company in Beijing. This was an exciting and acquired experience which inspired me to work on academic research in women's studies now.
When I interviewed many women for talk show program, I found plenty of questions which I couldn't answer. These questions include how to balance the Traditional and Modernity and how to make the right choice if we have more than one option. At that time I was confused by these questions and desperate for the answers. Now I found I could get answer from my Ph.D. study. I am really enjoying my study and every progress that I make day by day. I am keen to find out what happened to Chinese women in rapidly changing time.
My research focuses on social and self-identity, East meet West and the ways they impact on Chinese women especially highly educated women in urban areas. After China opening up, for the first time, Chinese women are are able to become more or less independent in the aspects of economy, education, marriage, paid work and social status than anytime in the history. However, they are also facing the new problems such as self-value and self-definition. They have not got used to the Individualism. The changing identities have offered Chinese women visional freedom but at the same time also made them self-uncertainty in their daily lives. I want to analyze the interplay of the social and self identity, which may be placed by the society or taken by women themselves. My research covers the qualitative fieldwork involving interviews with highly educated women in Beijing (the capital) and another big city ChengDu (my home town). Through my research I intend to show the reality of contemporary Chinese women's everyday lives and investigate the social and gender characters of Chinese women's in modern society.