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New Pathways in Gender Research

A Gender Institute PhD Student Roundtable, where the Gender Institute showcases the work of its doctoral students.

  • Thursday 3 October 2013
  • 17.00-18.30
  • STC.S75, St. Clement's, LSE 
  • Chaired by Dr Marsha Henry 

Speakers include:

Amanda Conroy

An Affective Economy of Fear: Threat, Autonomy and Masculinity in the Minuteman Movement

Amanda ConroyAbstract: My PhD research consists of an ethnographic study of anti-immigrant and nativist organizations in the United States. In particular, I focus on those organizations - collectively known as the Minuteman movement - that operate outside of the traditional realm of electoral politics, such as those that organize civilian border patrols along the US-Mexico border, report irregular immigrants to authorities, and monitor employers suspected of hiring irregular immigrants. The vast majority of movement members are white, middle-aged men. The project as a whole considers the ways in which whiteness, masculinity, and citizenship appear in the discourses that circulate in these movements. In this paper, I pick up on a theme that appears in several chapters, namely the ways in which threat/fear and autonomy collude in the construction of the racialized and gendered subjectivities of movement members. It is through this lens that I analyse Minutemen’s commitments to their own autonomy, as well as their affective investment in “threat”. I discuss how movement members are invested in masculinity performatives marked by protectiveness and thus oriented around “threat”.  In other words, their masculinity is closely tied to the ability to recognize and react to “threat” and thus is infused with “fear”. Because of their investment in such a masculinity, movement members are also invested in “autonomy”. Autonomy, marked by rationality, self-sufficiency, and the eschewing of emotion-based reasoning, is crucial for makes possible recognition of “threat”, and thus access to masculinity. It is, I argue, these investments in a masculinity organized around autonomy and the ability to recognize threat that, in part, drives movement members to engage in  racial profiling and vigilantism, and thus, to participate in “an affective economy in which to perform love for one’s country is to fear/police/hate the other” (Cisneros 2012, 147). 

Biography: Amanda Conroy (@amanda_conroy) is a PhD candidate at the Gender Institute and the Centre for the Study of Human Rights. She received an MA (with Distinction) in Gender Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (UK) in 2009 and a BA (Honours) in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College (USA) in 2007. A recipient of the Frederick Bonnart-Braunthal Scholarship, her research interests include national identity, masculinities, the intersections between gender, race and citizenship, and the discursive effects of (neo)liberalism on moral and ethical theory. In addition to her doctoral work, Amanda is on the editorial team and Engenderings, the LSE Gender Institute blog.

Alexandra Hyde

The Militarised Mobilities of Army Wives 

AlexHyde1Abstract: This PhD research is a gender analysis of the everyday lives of women married to servicemen during their husbands’ front-line deployment in Afghanistan. It focuses on the fundamental question of military wives’ power and positionality vis-à-vis the military institution and its implications for how to conceptualise ‘what counts’ as militarisation. Based on six month’s ethnographic fieldwork living on a British regimental camp in Germany, it argues for a more nuanced assessment of how military power works in co-operation with broader, ‘civilian’ structures of gender, class, race and national identity. The thesis explores a series of ‘militarised mobilities’ in order to characterise the blurring of boundaries between the combat zone and the home, the global and local, the ‘greedy institutions’ of the military and the family and the public and domestic spheres. By positing militarisation as a process that is contingent, fluid and non-linear, it argues against the assumption of military wives’ total ‘incorporation’ into the institution, looking at their role as agents of ‘civilianisation’ as a defence against the militarisation of everyday life.

Biography: Alexandra Hyde is a final year PhD candidate at the LSE Gender Institute. She has a BA in English from Cambridge University and an MA in Gender Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Her professional background is in policy and advocacy communications. She currently works for a DFID research consortium at the Gender Violence and Health Centre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Yang Shen

Peasant Migrant Workers in the Service Sector in Shanghai

Yang ShenAbstract:  By using participant observation and interviews, this thesis focuses on peasant migrant workers who were born after 1980, working in the catering sector in Shanghai, China.

China has been undergoing dramatic political, social and economic transformation since 1978, the year of which China started its reform and opening-up. Currently China has more than 100 million migrant workers moving out from rural areas to make a living in the cities. Under this context, how are migrant workers’ migration experiences associated to social and gender inequality in China? How are NGM experiencing the changes? What does the transformation mean for gender relations?  How are the experiences of female and male migrant workers differentiated?

This thesis intends to unpack these questions by exploring workers’ experiences at work, in the family and in the leisure. The intersection of class, gender, and migration status helps to explain these questions.

This thesis aims not only to disclose and analyse the gendered life experiences of migrant workers in the catering, but also to re-address the importance of social equality, and to enrich the understanding of transforming China.

Biography: Yang Shen is a PhD candidate funded by China Scholarship Council. Her current research focuses on peasant migrant workers in the catering Sector in Shanghai. Her research Interests cover gender and work, migration studies, contemporary China Studies, and qualitative research methods. She worked as an intern at UN Women and she continues to work as a columnist for the newspaper UKChinese.

Nicole Shephard

Towards the Queer Intersectional Study of Transnational Social Spaces

nicoleshephardAbstract: In a move to bring queer theory’s conceptual tools to gender and transnational migration studies, this paper suggests a queer-intersectional approach to subject formation in transnational social spaces.

Conceptual and empirical scholarship on transnational migration has focused on defining and delimiting transnationalism as phenomenon and field of study, on the economic and political implications of transnational migration for states, and on the impact of bifocal transnationality on migrants’ practices. Less attention has been paid to subject formation within transnational spaces. Shifting the focus to the spaces in which transnationality takes place, rather than normatively defined ethnic and national communities, allows for exploring heterogeneity in terms of multiple experiences and practices within. Such an approach allows for taking the complex interplay of spatiality, historicity and shifting identifications based on embodied practices and discourses around gender, sexuality, race, national belonging, ethnicity or age into account.

Taking British South Asians as exemplary for the decoupling of life in the transnational social space from migratory processes as such, I put the transnational social space into productive dialogue with poststructuralist theories of subject formation and feminist, postcolonial and queer interventions into transnational migration research. I examine how these conceptual and empirical literatures  complement one another in fruitful ways and productively illustrate one another's limitations. In doing so, I illustrate how the study of transnational social spaces can benefit from drawing on intersectional theories in gender studies and the queering of methodologies beyond the study of queer subjects.

Biography: Nicole Shephard (@kilolo_) is a PhD candidate at the LSE Gender Institute, where she explores the becoming of transnational subjects. The analysis engages with the notion of transnational social space, intersectional theory and the queering of methodologies. Her broader academic interests include gender, migration, social movements, the gender/technology nexus, internet policy and the intersections thereof. She holds an MSc in International Development from Bristol University and a BA in Social Work and Social Policy with a minor in Social Anthropology from the University of Fribourg (CH), and her pre-academic professional background is in IT and Human Resources.