Community Courses use enquiry-based teaching and learning methods, which aim to empower participants as agents generative of their own questions, and acknowledge and build upon the rich diversity of knowledges we all bring into any classroom.
Further, instructors and participants commit to creating horizontal relationships that disrupt and deconstruct hierarchies between “teacher”/”professor” and “student.”
Our pedagogical approach is informed by feminist, decolonial, anti-hierarchical epistemologies.
Thus far, we have offered two community courses at FAC Research, with a third (topic TBA soon) planned for autumn 2020. Community courses are offered without tuition fees to participants who are selected based on an open call.
Based on these, and prior experiences using these teaching methodologies in university and community settings, we are currently creating a guide to enquiry-based feminist teaching (coming soon).
«LET'S TALK ABOUT 'SEX', BABY»
Histories and Theories of Gender and Sexuality
Instructors: Bessy Polykarpou & Anna Carastathis
October 2019-February 2020
The course examined theories of gender and sexuality, placing them in historical, political, social, and cultural context. More specifically, we referenced the historical context in the US and France from the post-World War II period until the emergence of new social movements in the 1960s. We focused on the flowering and transformation of feminist and LGBTQI+ movements in Greece in the post-dictatorship period, investigating how desires, subjectivities, and identities were being formed, negotiated, and transformed. The course examined aspects that are often marginalised in dominant historical narratives, such as, for instance, how trans activists militated for gender, racial, and economic justice from the very beginnings of the new social movements; or, the existence of lesbian desires and communities in the post-World War II era. With this historical background, we studies the emergence of queer politics and theory, and its relationship to the activism of HIV+ people and their allies. We screened the documentary film United In Anger: A History of ACT-UP (dir. Jim Hubbard, USA, 2012, 90′), which is based on oral histories with HIV/AIDS activists and archival footage.
We also studied contemporary ontological and political theories of gender and sexuality. Departing from genealogies of gender and sexuality (focussing on the work of Simone de Beauvoir and Michel Foucault), we examined conceptualisations of gender (including the sex/gender distinction); the relation(s) between gender and sexuality; the relation(s) between patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism; as well as the theory of performativity. We discussed how certain conceptualisations of gender and sexuality have contributed to, or are based on political exclusions. Finally, we sought to understand the intersections of gender and sexuality with multiple axes of oppression and exploitation. What coalitional horizons are opened up when the gendered/sexual (b)orders of the political subject are contested?
On a methodological level, the participants in the course experimented with oral history methods, which have been used by feminist and queer historians to counter the obfuscation of marginalised subjectivities and collectivities in hegemonic history. The participants conducted oral history interviews with individuals who have participated in social movements or activism in feminist and/or LGBTQI+ political spaces, or, whose lived experiences converge with the problematics of the course (focussing on the period 1974-2010). The participants presented their research to the public at a symposium entitled “Come, Let Me Tell You: Feminist, Lesbian, and Queer Narratives of the Post-dictatorship Era.”
The pedagogical approach drew from feminist, decolonial, and anti-hierarchical epistemologies. Community courses at FAC Research utilise enquiry-based teaching methods, which have as their aim the empowerment of participants as agents of knowledge production, and are based on the recognition and seek the development of their existing knowledges. Further, instructors and participants seek to facilitate horizontal relationships that disrupt and deconstruct hierarchies between “teacher”/”professor” and “student.” The course unfolded over 14 three-hour meetings (42 contact hours) and a 5-hour symposium (total 47 hours). The language of instruction was Greek.
- Becoming familiar with key concepts in the study of gender and sexuality, or deepening one’s understanding of them
- Experimentation with the basic principles of the method of oral history
- Comprehension of central debates within social movements regarding gender and sexuality, and the relations and conflicts between feminist and LGBTQI+ movements
- Exploration of how various theories, narratives, and politics of gender and sexuality are in dialogue, or are translated across different historical and spatial contexts
Instructor: Anna Carastathis
Intersectionality is a theoretical framework for highlighting the relationships between various forms of social exclusion and oppression (which also produce privileges) that some subjects experience simultaneously, but have been falsely separated from each other through the complex interplay of hegemonic and social movement discursive processes. Intersectionality originates in black feminist theory in the United States. As a theoretical framework, it makes visible the mutual exclusion of racism from misogyny in the construction of not only hegemonic but counterhegemonic categories. By criticising monistic approaches and social movement divisions (that is, politics that focus exclusively on gender or on race or on class), intersectionality suggests that oppressive systems (e.g. patriarchy, colonialism, capitalism) are interwoven and inseparable in experience. That is, intersectionality contests the analytic fragmentation of system s of oppression, by revealing their mutual construction; intersectionality problematises the homogenisation of social groups, revealing their internal heterogeneity. On an intersectional view, social groups seem to be cross-cut not only by vertical but also by horizontal relations of power, complicating past theories of social stratification, class exploitation, and gender oppression.
Our aim was to understand the pathways the concept of intersectionality has taken. Intersectionality is a concept that has “traveled” from social movement to academic spaces, but also to various legislative frameworks internationally. This travel is often referred to as the mainstreaming of intersectionality. In addition, we examined criticisms raised by various theorists, and whether and how they may be answered. We considered the analytic usefulness of intersectionality in our own social context(s), characterised by multiple, concentric or intersecting crises, but its political usefulness in social movements, particularly with respect to the generation of coalitional movements and coalitional subjects.
How does an intersectional approach enable the analysis of interdependent systems of oppression? How can gender, class, race, sexuality (and other categories of oppression) be considered simultaneously or deconstructed through an intersectional lens, not only in theory but also in practice? How has intersectionality traveled (from margin to centre, from political praxis to academic theory, from the radical left to neoliberalism, from global north to global south, etc.) through various gendered, racialised, and class-determined registers of postcolonial contestation?
- Understanding the historical emergence of intersectionality in the field of gender studies, and specifically in Black feminist theory.
- Reflecting on the contribution of intersectionality to historical social struggles and contemporary activisms (including those in which we have been ourselves engaged).
- Examining how intersectionality may be used to study forms of subjectification within the conditions of globalisation and late capitalism, especially under “crisis” conditions.
- Creating and exploring research questions that synthesise our own interests with the course material.
- Experimenting with a collective writing process in a supportive, anti-oppressive space.
Enquiry-based learning, close readings of theoretical texts, experiential engagement, horizontal exchange based on feminist pedagogical principles. The course unfolded over 15 three-hour meetings (45 contact hours). The language of instruction was Greek.
Together, the participants created an open-access collective text, First Act, (the first volume published in Greek on intersectionality).
The Community Course on Intersectionality (Spring 2019) was generously supported by a grant from Feminist Review Trust, which enabled FAC Research to give scholarships to the 16 participants, as well as pay for course materials.