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Eventful gender: an ethnographic exploration of gender knowledge production at international academic conferences

Henderson, EF; (2016) Eventful gender: an ethnographic exploration of gender knowledge production at international academic conferences. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The concept of gender is both celebrated and maligned in academic discourse; gender is credited with opening up or closing down debates, including or excluding concepts and the groups they designate. But how does gender come to mean what it means? This thesis is a deconstructive study of gender, which explores the conceptual negotiations that establish ‘what counts’ as gender. I argue that conceptual work on gender is bound up in political contestations which affect how social identities and processes entailed in thinking about gender are expressed and understood. The study is located in the embodied ‘context’ of international academic knowledge production, where conceptual negotiations cannot rely on familiar understandings of gender. Three national women’s studies association conferences were researched, in the United Kingdom, United States and India. The study used an ethnographic approach which included pre- and post-conference interviews with c.10 participants per conference, and a group meeting; materials collected from the conferences; autoethnographic research on the conferences and my doctoral trajectory. The thesis moves through a cumulative theorisation, which involves four stages of deconstructive analysis derived from Derrida’s oeuvre. The first stage establishes gender as ‘critical concept’; I analyse participants’ conceptual negotiations around what gender is and does. The second stage entails ‘surrounding’ the concept of gender; I use autoethnographic research to explore participants’ and conference delegates’ performative ‘surrounding’ of gender with intersectionality. Thirdly, ‘marking out’ focuses on conference conventions, which are understood in the study as bearing their own performative and citational qualities for the conceptualisation of gender. Finally, in seeking the ‘chink/crevice’ in the concept of gender, I ask if something unexpected can ‘happen’ to gender: an event. The study as a whole theorises ‘eventful gender’ as conceptual work that is inextricable from embodied, situated and mobile analyses of academic practice and knowledge construction and production.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Eventful gender: an ethnographic exploration of gender knowledge production at international academic conferences
Event: UCL
Language: English
Keywords: gender, gender studies, women's studies, conferences, Derrida, Deconstruction, poststructuralism, feminist studies, higher education
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1482124
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