Theses - Centre for Gender Studies


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 8 of 8
  • ItemEmbargo
    The Women's Equality Party: Sustainability, Longevity, and Impacts
    Vickers, Lisa Marie
    This thesis investigates how the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) in the United Kingdom has struggled to utilise its standing as a political party to ensure that women’s interests are represented throughout the British political landscape. WEP emerged in 2015 out of a dissatisfaction with mainstream politics and a want to put women’s interests at the top of the political agenda. The party reasoned that if women’s equality could be accepted as a ‘vote winner’ by mainstream parties, it would no longer need to exist. WEP leaders boldly called upon mainstream parties to take on its policies and to ‘put it out of business’. This thesis looks at the difficulties WEP has faced in carrying out this rhetorical device in practice. Discourse analysis, interviews, and participatory action research – along with comparisons made with the Feminist Initiative in Sweden, as well as Women’s Alliance/List and Women’s Movement in Iceland – are used to interrogate this important concept. This thesis begins by analysing key aspects of WEP’s identity, including its status as a women’s/feminist party and its non-partisan positioning. It goes on to assess WEP’s abilities to descriptively and substantively represent women, and the party’s unique positioning at the crossroads between movement and institutionalised politics. Ultimately, this thesis looks at how WEP utilises its institutional positioning as a political party, and if permanence is necessary to carry out its aim to represent women. This thesis contributes to broader debates concerning women’s and feminist organising, the development of ‘good representation’ of women, social movements’ interactions with the state, and institutional tools to mobilise effective change.
  • ItemControlled Access
    Queer, Cannibal, Brazilian: The Temporal Politics of Sexuality in Brazilian Cultural Production
    Demartini Brito, Juliana
    The dissertation intervenes in queer and Brazilian studies by reframing sexual narratives of Brazil’s modern subject formation through contemporary queer cultural productions. It argues that the colonial employment of temporal terms such as origin, progress, development, and copy established longstanding narratives of Brazilian nationality, culture, and sexuality as backward. Through the mixed-race symbol of the *mestiço*, early twentieth-century nationalist discourse fashioned a vision of the country’s past and future based on European heterosexual intervention, which “docilized,” therefore “developed,” the country’s regressive subject. The project counters this perspective, which remains popular in contemporary Brazil, by attending to writer Oswald de Andrade’s founding text for Brazilian cultural practices, *Cannibalist Manifesto* (1928). It argued for the Brazilian writer’s critical “cannibalization” of dominant cultures to reevaluate the country’s place in the modern world beyond the colonizer’s temporal markers. Yet, theories on how Oswald challenged Brazil’s cultural expression and modern subject as copies of Europe have lacked attention to the strategy’s entanglement with sexuality. Combining the *Cannibalist Manifesto* with queer theories of temporality, the dissertation argues that breaking apart the time of the colony through Oswald’s cannibalism also requires dismantling the sexual assumptions of the modern Brazilian subject as a product of mixed-race heterosexual reproduction. It thinks with Oswald’s strategy and queer theory to argue that film, experimental art, and activism have queerly troubled Brazil’s scripted past, present, and future by apprehending the dominant tools that compose the country’s modern subjectivity while remaining critical to Western queer literature. Through Karim Aïnouz’s film *Madame Satã* (2002), Hélio Oiticica’s anti-art experiments, and protests demanding justice for Marielle Franco, the dissertation composes a cannibalist form of reading, documenting, and enacting nonheteronormative sexualities with and through the apparent rigid structure that frames Brazil’s past, present, and future, provoking a reckoning of how the employment of time can establish narratives of nationality, culture, and sexuality.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Syrian Refugee Storytelling and the ‘Survivor-Witness-Messenger’: Knowledge and Violence in Displacement Narratives
    Doyle, Julia
    Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Syrian refugee narratives (in original oral history interviews, memoirs and news media), the thesis carries out a discourse analysis of a variety of texts to examine how subjectivities and global relations of power are discursively produced and cited. Following Carolyn J. Dean’s ‘survivor-witness’ figure, the thesis proposes the ‘survivor-witness-messenger’ as a role through which to interpret the complex and contesting demands made upon Syrian refugee narrators. This suggestion builds on Dean’s term by emphasising the interlocking relation of movement, survival and the deliverance of testimony in existing discourses around Syrian refugees as well as within their own stories. The thesis is concerned with possible interpretations of the texts which read for citations of this figure, whether through occupying the role, explicitly rejecting it or engaging with it ambivalently, and how such citations produce the narrators as international political subjects. The first half of the thesis focuses on how the narrators discursively produce certain spaces as having a racializing and gendering effect of dehumanisation upon displaced subjects as well as on the contested and complex narrative explorations of the politics of gratitude as a producing a pressure to narrativize suffering for Western audiences. In the second half, the thesis’s argument for the possibility of reading for such discursive engagements with space, gender, race and humanity through the ‘survivor-witness-messenger’ figure turns to the intertextual relations between the texts analysed, other Syrian refugee narratives and wider international discourses on refugees, violence and testimony. From metaphors comparing regime oppression in Syria to scenes of domestic violence to the genres coalescing around narrators based on gender and age, these chapters argue for a recognition of an inter-connected network of international actors involved in the production and commodification of Syrian stories with a multiplicity of implications for the discursive shaping of categories such as refugee, witness and human.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Performative Parenting: Social Norms and Fathers' Use of Parental Leave Entitlements
    Allen, Juliet Louise; Allen, Juliet [0000-0001-5437-8293]
    Fathers’ use of parental leave is a crucial policy issue in relation to gender equality and at the root of gendered caring norms and unequal divisions of labour throughout the life course. Using comparative mixed methods and a framework that conceptualises parenting as gendered and performative (Butler, 1999), this research contributes knowledge of the influence on fathers’ parental leave decisions of three dimensions of norms: policy, discourse and cultural norms; workplace cultures; and peer and family group norms. I compare the effect of social norms on the decisions made by fathers working for the same multinational firm in three countries: the UK, Sweden and Portugal. I argue that a Butlerian understanding can help answer the question frequently posed in the literature: why, when we know couples have egalitarian intentions prior to the birth of a first child, do couples slip back into conservative gender roles once the child has arrived (Fox, 2019; Grunow and Veltkamp, 2016; Miller, 2011)? I provide a comparative backdrop to the three focus countries, to contextualise the path dependencies underpinning the enabling parental leave policy and culture in Sweden and the contradictory and ambiguous parental leave policies and cultures in the UK and Portugal. I use data from the 2017 wave of the European Values Study to demonstrate the differences in attitudes towards gender roles between the three countries. I find that overall, Sweden holds the most egalitarian values, followed by the UK, and then Portugal, where the data reflects ‘normative ambiguity’ (Wall, 2015). I then theorise the extent to which each of the three domains of norms shaped fathers’ use of leave in the three countries, through analysis of qualitative data collected in 45 interviews with fathers. I argue that the widespread normative support for gender equality embedded in Swedish culture, alongside the enabling policy framework first introduced in 1974, contributed to the existence of a robust ‘citation’ (Butler, 1993) for fathers’ use of parental leave entitlements, which cannot fully exist in Portugal and the UK under the current discursive and material conditions. My argument, via a Butlerian critique of regulation that posits parental leave policy frameworks as both regulated by and regulating gender, thus contributes to the body of work foregrounding the centrality of non-transferable leave entitlements to fathers’ use of leave. At work, despite conducting interviews with fathers at the same firm in each country, organisational culture was highly divergent between the nations. Bringing organisational culture studies together with Butler’s performative ontology of gender, I thus theorise organisational culture as gender regulation and conceptualise the ‘performative breadwinner’, articulating the inability of many of the fathers to cease reproducing the masculine ‘ideal worker’ norm. The micro-level insights documented demonstrate how fathers’ everyday experiences are shaped by cultural backdrop, peer behaviour and forms of social constraint that form the choice architecture that shapes individual decisions. The research offers an original, granular account of the iterative process through which ‘father-friendly’ leave entitlements, combined with discursive changes, contribute to wider uptake of leave entitlements, and how shifts in norms over time are made possible – or not – through citationality.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Judges’ Gender and Judging in China
    Wei, Shuai
    After women began entering the judiciary in appreciable numbers, scholars worldwide started asking whether their gender would influence their decision-making processes. Although empirical findings are mixed, the research literature reveals that judges’ gender is a predictive factor in gender-related cases—especially those involving employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and reproductive rights. These findings not only advance feminists’ aspirations that female judges can translate symbolic representation into substantive representation of women, but contribute to the long-standing observations about how judges of different backgrounds actually decide cases. This PhD dissertation follows this research tradition and examines the effect of gender in the process of judging within the context of Chinese criminal justice system. Chapters two and three, which used quantitative research methods, examine whether female judges decide cases differently from their male colleagues, and whether the presence of a female judge on a three-member panel causes male judges to vote in favour of plaintiffs in rape cases. In chapter two, I discuss my analysis of 11,006 court judgments from 2016 to 2018 across 11 crime types in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. The results revealed negligible differences between the sorts of decisions made by male and female district court judges. Nevertheless, the similarities in the decision to incarcerate can be explained by a harmonious ‘Iron Triangle’ relationship among the police, the procuratorate, and the court. The Sentencing Guidelines and the Adjudication Committees of the courts are mechanisms that align judicial behaviours in the same direction. The initial findings in chapter three, based on 6,100 judgements of rape cases from 2010 to 2018 in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou, also suggested that there is no ‘panel effect’. However, when certain stimuli, such as the social network relationship between victims and offenders, are introduced, panels with different combinations of male and female judges exhibit different sentencing preferences: When a female judge decided the outcome of a case together with two male judges, the panel often issued a shorter sentence length, compared to the sentence length issued by an all-female panel. Chapters four and five, which used qualitative research methods, uncover the behavioural differences at work between male and female judges. In chapter four, it is shown that female judges are accustomed to employ mediation as a preferred dispute resolution method when facilitating reconciliation between two parties and are more likely to seek civil compensation for victims. This study reveals that in the Chinese criminal justice system, behavioural differences between male and female judges exist in the process, as well as in the outcomes of judgments. Chapter five explores male and female judges’ attitudes in criminal cases related to domestic violence. I found that senior male judges tended to minimise or excuse male offenders’ assaults on their female partners in domestic violence cases, arguably because those male offenders were brought up in a masculine culture at an early age, or because they often experience work and family pressures at the same time, and those are feelings that some junior male judges can relate to. Female judges, on the other hand, tended to blame female victims for the improper behaviours that they engaged in with their husbands, or for failing to cut ties with their husbands quickly and resolutely. These negative attitudes from female judges towards female victims demonstrate the impossibility that the latter could fit the image of ‘ideal victims’. This study demonstrates that both male and female judges, regardless of age differences, possess unconscious biases and prejudices during criminal trials for domestic violence cases. The findings in this PhD dissertation compel us to reflect on the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing ‘gender differences in judging’ put forward by feminist legal scholars.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Bodies at their Limits: Rethinking Political Violence Through Women’s Hunger Strikes
    (2021-07-31) Mackereth, Kerry
    Hunger strikers operate in a liminal space between the active political subject and the passive object of violence that underpin many theories of political violence. Through a feminist and anti-racist analysis of two women’s hunger strikes in the United Kingdom – the hunger strikes conducted by members of the British suffragette movement between 1909-1914 and the 2018 hunger strike at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) – this thesis makes three arguments regarding how women’s hunger strikes challenge theories of political violence centred around the liberal humanist subject. First, in response to approaches that frame hunger strikes as a form of political speech, this thesis argues that gender and race shape how the pained body speaks. Second, it insists that an analysis of what the hunger-striking body says must also include an interrogation of what the hunger striking body does. Consequently, this thesis examines the performative qualities of the hunger strikes in the suffragette movement and at Yarl’s Wood, showing how the significance and the effects of these hunger strikes extended beyond their rhetorical effects. Third, this thesis argues that hunger strikes have the potential to undermine the liberal humanist figure at the centre of many theories of political violence. It notes that the suffragettes’ use of hunger strikes in the service of an imperialist political agenda demonstrates how hunger striking in and of itself does not necessarily disrupt this liberal humanist ideal. However, it also contends that the Yarl’s Wood hunger strike shows how hunger striking can challenge the division between the liberal humanist subject and its inhuman ‘others’. Together, these three arguments lay the foundations for rethinking certain concepts of political violence, in particular how political violence produces the human and its inhuman counterparts, and how self-destructive political protests may disrupt this distinction.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Making a Life for Themselves: Gender, Identity, and Everyday Negotiations of Rohingya Women in Bangladesh’s Refugee Camps
    Rahman, Farhana Afrin
    This dissertation examines the everyday negotiations, contestations, and strategies that Rohingya refugee women employ to make a life for themselves after forced migration. Based on fourteen months of feminist ethnographic fieldwork in Bangladesh’s Kutupalong-Balukhali mega-camp between 2017 and 2018, this dissertation focuses on how Rohingya refugee women deal with the process of settling into the camp, negotiate marriage and other intimate experiences, adjust to changing gender divisions of labour, and navigate encounters with humanitarian aid agencies and male camp leaders. It pays particular attention to the emerging and shifting power relations within the camp and its impact on Rohingya refugee women’s everyday subjectivities. Rohingya refugee women engage in strategic choices and bargaining to reconstruct their lives in displacement, thereby reclaiming agency and asserting their identity despite their circumstances. This dissertation thus suggests that refugee women’s everyday tactics and contestations challenge and overturn deeply embedded gender ideologies regarding women’s place in settings after forced migration. It uncovers the capacity of refugee women to bring about changes in their own lives through the spaces they create, inhabit, and reshape; the coping mechanisms they employ; and the bonds of kinship and community they forge.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Posthuman War: Race, Gender, Technology, and the Making of U.S. Military Futures
    Moore, Lena
    This dissertation investigates drone warfare, the production of Special Operations Forces, and innovations in the medical treatment of war-related trauma, drawing these together to propose they may be read as indicative of a larger military “Posthuman Project” that is driving technological developments and practice in the U.S. military. Through a critical race theory and feminist war studies framework, it addresses this military posthumanity as a fantasy vision of future invulnerability, total knowledge, and control that is inseparable from fantasies of white supremacy that are built into the foundations of U.S. empire. It argues that in this context, the posthuman as well as the human remain exclusionary political categories that have their sense made through processes of gendering and racialization, in spite of military discourses of technologically-driven neutrality and progress away from human fallibility. In the course of examining the three case studies, this work finds that the state wields the categories of human and posthuman as tools to justify and naturalize empire and war-waging, and in so doing it justifies and naturalizes race and gender as tools of oppression. This reveals, ultimately, the malleability of these categories, and demonstrates the extent to which harnessing this malleability is a primary way of making state power itself seem necessary and inevitable. This work seeks to contribute to recent discussions about how race and gender produce warfare, and likewise have their sense made through acts of war and the development and deployment of advanced technologies. Similarly, drawing on lessons about the violence of the “human” from Black feminist thought, it seeks to suggest to critical scholars ways of thinking about the posthuman and war that do not lose sight of the inherent violence of these categories.