Event: Sewing Resistance

Between October 10 and May 31, the University of Aberdeen Museums and Special Collections will be hosting an exhibition of Chilean arpilleras, stitched by students on the Spanish and Latin American Studies program at Aberdeen.

During the Women Making History: Mexico and Chile in the Twentieth Century class, the students were guided by Professor Patience Schell (LLMVC) as they made their research-based arpillera, a Chilean fabric mural, while writing a commentary about the process of creating the dolls.

The mural connects with topics that we will be discussing in Weeks 5 and 11, when we reflect on cultural resistance and gender, and the arpilleras provide a significant example of the juxtaposition of art and politics:

Arpilleras emerged as an art form during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) and usually depict scenes of everyday life, especially for those who were against the dictatorship or perceived to be leftist.

Professor Patience Schell, ‘Research-Based Arpillera‘, 2019.

The exhibition will be held on the ground floor of the Duncan Rice Library; to learn more about the arpilleras, check out Susan Traini‘s 2013 article, ‘Unforgotten to the unforgettable: How Arpilleras contributed to Chilean history informing everyday occupations and social change’; Jhonny Alexander Pacheco Ballén‘s 2018 piece, ‘Las arpilleras de shuba: bordado de arpilleras para tejer la memoria colectiva sobre los espacios’, and Jacqueline Adams‘ 2013 book, Art Against Dictatorship : Making and Exporting Arpilleras Under Pinochet.

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Quick Read: The Emotional Labor of Coping

Following yesterday’s post on belonging and the learning environment, the latest issue of Kohl includes an important reflection on the politicization and feminization of emotional labour, both in higher ed and beyond the classroom.

In Neoliberal Consciousness and the Emotional Labor of Coping: A Conversation Between Friends, Amira Elwakil and Nadine El-Nabli discuss the ways that labor is omnipresent (Nadine: “There is even labor involved in being alone”), the ways that emotions are feminized and, thereafter, undervalued, and exhaustion versus productivity.

As the conversation unfolds, Amira and Nadine turn to the possibility of alternative labor structures, and the ways that the current framework can be challenged:

Any attempt to challenge our current labor structures and create alternative ones requires a new way of thinking around how we organize communities and how we distribute care, security, recognition, rights, and duties.

I think it’s crucial to try to find alternative communities of care that are neither based on ideas around the nuclear family nor in the pursuit of creating a new family that is rooted in heteronormative structures. But I haven’t managed to find an answer to what these communities could realistically and sustainably look like.

I find so much value, support, and care in friendships, but even those feel insecure because of the fact that the structures we live in don’t support the sustainability or security of these relationships.

Amira Elwakil and Nadine El-Nabli, Neoliberal Consciousness and the Emotional Labor of Coping: A Conversation Between Friends, Kohl, 5: 2, Summer 2019.

The article is a powerful read, and it touches on the additional dimensions of emotional labour that will emerge in our discussions in Weeks 1, 2, and 3 (and more), including privilege, the “romanticization of emotional labor”, and gender and mental health.

Podcast Tip: Gender, Governance, and Islam

One for Week 8, an excellent podcast discussion with Professor Nadje Al-Ali, (Watson Institute, Brown University), and a regular on our reading list:

In the podcast, Professor Al-Ali talks about her new book, co-edited with Deniz Kandiyoti and Kathryn Spellman Poots, Gender, Islam & Governance (2019), as well as the deeper issues affecting gender and area studies:

If you want to understand the level of authoritarianism or the level of democracy, the politics of gender is not a side issue. It’s central to it. Often, mainstream political scientists, international relations scholars, or even area studies scholars, they think about women and gender issues as a side issue to the big issues of political transition, democracy, authoritarianism.

You don’t need to be an academic to see when you look at what’s been unfolding, especially since 2011 in terms of the various protest movements in the region, that when it comes to women, men, sexuality, this has been actually a central component of challenging previous regimes, but also has been a central component of regimes trying to control their populations. How does a regime try to crack down on a protest movement? By controlling women’s mobility. By sexual harassing women and telling them, ‘your place is not on the street’.

[‘Gender, Governance, and Islam’ with Nadje Al-Ali’, interview by Sarah Baldwin.]

The volume includes a collection of chapters that are relevant to not only Week 8, but Weeks 4, 7, and 9 (and more), including research by Islah Jad, (‘Palestine: Gender in an Imagined Fragmented Sovereignty’), Al-Ali (‘Iraq: Gendering Violence, Sectarianisms and Authoritarianism’), and Afiya Shehrbano Zia (‘Defiance not Subservience: New Directions in the Pakistani Women’s Movement’), among others.

CfP: Women and Gender Studies in the Middle East

This time a call for papers, for submission towards the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies (AMEWS) inaugural conference, Women and Gender Studies in the Middle East, which will be held in Beirut in March 2021.

The thematic focus is broad, and submissions are welcomed from fields such as politics, economics, history, sexualities, culture, arts, and digital humanities, among others.

The deadline for abstracts is October 30, 2019, and submissions must be 250 words, follow the template outlined in the call, and include a reflection on “why you believe this is a pressing topic”.

For more on AMEWS, and their publication, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, visit their latest issue, Generations, here.