5 April – “First Fridays” Event – Identity Politics + Gender and Schooling

The “First Fridays” series of Gender and Sexuality Studies public events continues on Friday 5 April, at Deakin Downtown (at 727 Collins St, near Southern Cross Station).

This month features two thought-provoking events: Carol D’Cruz’s public seminar on “How (Not) to Talk About Identity Politics”, and Amanda Keddie’s postgraduate workshop on “Working with Challenging Gender Polarities through Schooling”. 

The postgraduate workshop will run from 2–3.30pm, followed by the public seminar from 4–5pm. “First Fridays” are free and open to people interested in the work, although bookings are required.

2–3.30pm, Amanda Keddie: Working with Challenging Gender Polarities through Schooling (postgrad workshop)

The workshop will involve exploring snippets of data gathered from a recent study conducted at an elite independent school in the US. The study sought to identify new educative approaches to supporting gender justice. The school has recently instated productive policy and practice around issues of gender equity. The data to be presented reflects the thoughts and concerns of student leaders (aged 15–18 years) about gender and social justice in the current climate of #MeToo. The workshop will focus on making sense of this data through a “gender justice lens”.

Amanda Keddie is a Professor of Education at Deakin University. She leads the Children, Young People and their Communities program within the REDI (Research for Educational Impact) Centre. Her research interests span the broad field of social justice and schooling. She began her career as a primary school teacher in 1998 while studying for her PhD in Education at Deakin University. After gaining her doctorate in 2002, she lectured at the University of Southern Queensland, before taking up a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at that institution in 2005. Since 2005, she has pursued a research-intensive trajectory with Research Fellowships at Roehampton University (London), Griffith University (Brisbane) and The University of Queensland (Brisbane). She has recently completed an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, which involved a cross-cultural analysis of socially just schooling in Australia and the UK. 

4–5pm, Carolyn D’Cruz: How (Not) to Talk About Identity Politics (public seminar)

Public debates are bad at dealing with moral uncertainty and complication in argument. By their very nature, debates need two opposing sides, and arguments are built by demolishing the grounds and claims of the adversaries’ position. When moral and political issues get caught in a public debate – especially those that work to the rhythm of 24/7 tabloid sensationalism, or indeed the pace of Twitter – positions get calcified and the drive to measure public opinion gets wedged into extremes. This happens constantly with issues that fall into the realm of identity politics.

Opinion polls ask whether wearing the burqa in public should be banned; if immigration and refugee intake should be halted; if trans folk should be allowed to use their preferred bathroom; if bakeries should be required to make a wedding cake for same-sex couples; and whether historic monuments ought to be demolished, to name a few debates. This paper argues that these are the wrong questions, and that the identity politics running through these debates matter – but not in the way most right, left and moderate commentators think. Rather than adopting “for” or “against” positions around identity politics, this paper works to unsettle pre-set political position-taking, so that the terms of debate can be re-framed in an anti-programmatic way.

Carolyn D’Cruz has been working in gender, sexuality and diversity studies since 2007. She is author of Identity Politics in Deconstruction: Calculating with the Incalculable and is co-editor of the anthology, After Homosexual: The Legacies of Gay Liberation.

For more info and to register >

See the Gender and Sexuality Studies Research Network blog for registration details, recordings of past seminars, and links to other events. 

*Featured header image by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash