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The Australian National University

Call for papers - Women of diaspora: roles and (self)representations

ANU Gender Institute and the Centre for European Studies research workshop:

Women of Diaspora: Roles and (self)representations

The ANU Gender Institute and the ANU Centre for European Studies are jointly organizing a research workshop “Women of Diaspora: Roles and (self)representations”. The aim of the workshop is to gather researchers, policy makers and community members, to explore the gendered dimension to migration across different ethnic groups. In particular, it is to provide a forum for discussion on the diversity of gender roles, behaviours and attitudes that emerge from migrant women’s self-representations, and challenge the understanding of their experience as collective and unifying.

Description: The discourse used by humanitarian support institutions, refugee and migration researchers to talk to and about migrants, particularly women, has been changing in recent years to bring about the recognition of their strengths, capacity and independence (Forced Migration Online). Yet, stereotypical images of migrant women are still promoted in various cultural, social and political contexts and restrict the ways in which women’s roles within and outside diaspora are perceived and understood. Even critical approaches to life narratives – or other works of self-referential expression – created by women migrants themselves often offer, to use L. Kischner’s words, “reductive and, at times, inaccurate reading of specific immigrant realities” (2008), endorsing distorted representations.

While migration will always remain a challenge for women and men alike, investigating the ways women perceive/represent themselves and are perceived/represented by others can help to mitigate social effects of reductionist and essentializing approaches, or perhaps even decrease women’s reliance on their gendered roles. The workshop participants will draw on various primary sources (literary texts, life writing, visual images, oral history, memorials, performances, activism) to examine how women have been represented and how they represent themselves (their achievements, autonomy and agency), and how it affects their post-arrival experiences.

 Possible areas of focus include the plurality and versatility of gender roles in:

  • developing their family strategy for emigration
  • maintaining ties with their homeland
  • maintaining culture, traditions and language
  • developing ties with the host country, making economic, social and civic contributions
  • building capital (strengthening ties with home/host country)
  • transforming immigration culture and policy.

The workshop will include individual presentations, group discussions, and planning the production of an edited book. Proposals for papers that are in early stages or works in progress are warmly welcome.

Expression of interest for participation by 31 May to: kasia.williams@anu.edu.au

  • When: Friday 24 June, 9-4pm
  • Venue: ANU Centre for European Studies, 1 Liversidge Street (Bldg 67C)
  • Enquiries/expression of interest: Dr Kasia Williams, ANU Centre for European Studies, email: kasia.williams@anu.edu.au, phone: 02 6125 6603

Updated:  7 November, 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute