What is more stimulating for young scholars than presenting their own research projects to an interested audience, sharing ideas with other students, gathering individual feedback from experts about their work?
This is not a just a dream or an old scene taken from the Symposium of Platoon; this is simply a reality which took place in Nijmegen last week!
On Friday, the 9th of March, the Radboud University of Nijmegen hosted the Annual National Research Day in the field of Gender, Ethnicity, Sexuality and Diversity.
Organised by the Netherlands Research School of Genderstudies (NOG), this day has became one of the largest events for Master and Phd students who want to present their own research projects, receiving feedback from senior NOG staff members.
Gender Research on edge
In their welcome, Rosemarie Buikema and Willy Jansen analysed the meaning of doing Gender research nowadays as well as underscored its additional value in comparison to doing research in other fields by disclosing its purpose. As Buikema stressed, since equality in rights between women and men seems almost reached, research on gender issues seems to make little sense, to both the general public and academia.
This reflection made us to think that the first question which gender scholars should ask themselves is what they may shift their attention to and which perspective they would move from. With these questions in mind, gender researchers will be able to organise all the knowledge related to the field of gender studies which is marked, as Buikema said, by the lack of a past heritage. Since Gender studies have a recent birth, they do not have a previous knowledge body which it can refer to. However, this absence should not be taken as an obstacle but as enriching in the construction of a new gender awareness.
In order to reach visibility in public discourses, Gender research should point out its concrete application to reality, by disclosing the meaning of performing as a gendered human being in contemporary societies, whose identity is shaped by the intersection of sex, race, age, social class and religion.
Parallel sessions of presentations, a difficult choice to do!
The presentation day was opened by the NOG PhD student Koen Leurs with a paper on ‘’Digital crossing. Moroccan-Dutch youth’s identities across digital spaces’’ in which digital spaces were studied in their relation to the development of adolescent’s identities.
This research represents a great example of how gender research can be applied to daily life practices and to show the process of identity’s construction through new technologies.
After this plenary session, there were 30 presentations of researchers coming from different countries and they were divided into the following topics: Imagination, Embodiment and the Arts I/II, Queer Matters, Motherhood and Family matters, Emancipation and Difference, Modern Sexuality, Men making a difference and Cultural Geographies of Care. Such a large number of research projects shows that gender studies are in a full bloom and connect several fields of study, creating a network among different countries. This will enrich gender discourses in academia which will lead, as a first step, to achieving more visibility in public discourse.
A new experience for us…
Besides the up to date and interesting contents of the presentations, we were really surprised at the event itself, because it was completely new for us. Ideas and methodologies of research were openly shared among students, professors and audience, creating an inspiring space of discussion. In academia, a space like this can only exist without a strong hierarchical structure, which normally paralyzes dialogue and the development of knowledge. Since the Italian and the Spanish academies (in which we were educated) are strongly marked by a hierarchical structure, the closeness between young researchers and experts and all the possibilities that this interaction offers, was what most impressed us during this day.
As in The Netherlands, also in Italy and Spain Gender studies are a young field of research. For this reason they should be more easily adaptable to a modern structure, where a reciprocal dialogue can take a place, compared to the hierarchical structure in which only experts have a voice.
Looking forward the next Phd Research Day…hope they have a seat for us to enjoy it as we did last Friday!
Loreto Ábrego and Sabrina Dall’Oca, interns at Aletta, respectively working on a DAPHNE proposal and on The FRAGEN Project.