What are Feminist Dialogues?
In December 2009, a small number of feminist scholars, activists and writers from the Middle East and South Asia came together at ISS to discuss the realities of, and scholarship on, violent conflict, militarization, gender and struggles for social justice and peace in their regions.
They discussed how contemporary geopolitical processes intersect with the processes of producing knowledge about the world, arguing that globalization of hegemonic world-views is as dangerous as globalization of violence, economic and political inequalities and injustice.
Objectives of Feminist Dialogues
The hegemonic position of Western scholarship – including Western feminist scholarship – has meant that feminist work from the South has seldom had access to the West, and more importantly, has seldom been seen as relevant for the Western or global realities. This also often meant that feminists conceptualizing and analysing realities of war and violence in one region seldom had an opportunity to engage with specific theoretical discourses and political realities of wars from different regions, allowing Western feminist scholarship to become the primary frame of reference, not only within the West, but also for the rest of the world.
The Cross-Regional Feminist Dialogues on Gender and Conflict were meant to break through those regional-cum-hegemonic boxes and create space for region-to-region exchange The dialogues brought together feminists from different parts of the world that otherwise would have little chance of coming together.
In that respect, the Dialogues had three main objectives:
- Epistemological: Production of feminist knowledge beyond local and/or hegemonic discourses.
- Political: Feminist solidarity and support network.
- Educational: Dissemination of publications for teaching purposes.
Why Middle East and South East Asia?
- Similar complexities and diversities of the conflicts within each region.
- Diversity of women's resistance to, and engagements in, the conflicts.
- Rich bodies of feminist studies on gender and conflict within each region, with hardly any cross-regional theoretical communication.
Those objectives correspond closely with the epistemological and political objectives of the Major in Social Justice Perspectives.
The Major in Social Justice calls for a critical examination of ‘theories, social practices and policy interventions, especially in relation to tackling social injustice in the context of globalization’. It further asks:
- ‘How are justice, human rights, gender, violence and social change framed and approached by different local, global and transnational actors?
- What knowledge and power dynamics are involved in effectively promoting social justice?’
This video material offers some answers to those questions, as perceived from the lived realities of Middle Eastern and South Asian women and men. With it, we invite everybody to engage in creating critical knowledge for the changing world.
Feminist Dialogue videos
Part 1 - Understanding Women's Actions
- Modes of Resistance: The Business of Non-Violence
- Modes of Agency: Living against the Everydayness of Violence in Palestine (Nadera Kevorkian)
- Modes of Violence: Women's Will for Violence in India (Urvashi Butalia)
- Modes of Resistance, Agency and Violence: Debate
Part 2 - Understanding Masculinities
- Questions of Masculinity: Introduction (Dubravka Zarkov)
- Feminist Methodologies for Research on Masculinities in Sri Lanka (Neloufer de Mel)
- War, Nationalism and Homosexuality in Serbia (Aleksandra Savic)
- Crisis of Masculinity in Sudan (Karin Willemsen)
- Questions of Masculinities: Debate
Part 3 - Seeing What Is Yet To Come
The conference and the video were sponsored by Social Science Research Council (New York) and ISS.
Video material was selected and organized by Dubravka Zarkov, in cooperation with Tara Tabassi, Shyamika Jayasundra and Nahda Shehada. The video was produced by Zelovic Productions, Amsterdam.