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PhD Third Year Presentations

Week 1

Louisa Acciari and Julia Hartviksen

Date: Wednesday 26th April
Time: 5:30pm onwards
Place: GI Open Space

Week 4

Aura Lehtonen, Ilana Eloit and Jacqui Gibbs

Date: Wednesday 17th May
Time: 5:30pm onwards
Place: GI Open Space

Louisa Acciari

Reclaiming the Value of Labour: Domestic Workers’ Struggle for Recognition in Brazil

This paper will discuss the 2015 legislation on domestic work in Brazil which extends basic labour rights to the category. It will explore the debates generated by the law on the value of labour, and attempt at evaluating its effects on the movement of domestic workers. I argue that while the new law was a necessary step to reach equality and make domestic work recognised as work, it also creates an administrative trap for the movement leading to a temporary demobilisation. Using this particular case study, I discuss the broader implications of the judicialisation of politics for social movements. 


Ilana Eloit

Lesbian Trouble: Feminism, Heterosexuality and the French Nation (1970-1980)

In 1980, Monique Wittig published in the journal Questions Féministes her article "The Straight Mind", in which she wrote that "lesbians are not women". This article provoked the spectacular scission of the editorial board of the journal and the emergence of a movement of "radical lesbians", who violently critiqued the 1970s feminist movement for its silence on heterosexuality as a regime of power. It is the archaeology of this feminist silence that this paper will investigate, asking the following questions: "How did the epistemic repression of lesbianism occur in the 1970s French feminist movement?" "What was the strategic function of this repression in relation to the compatibility of feminism with the French Nation?" and eventually "What is the legacy of this repression today, in the context of the demonisation of gender and queer studies, both from homophobic right-wing circles and  feminist circles?"


Aura Lehtonen

The Political Subjectivities of Austerity Politics: The Making of the ‘Benefit Recipient/Scrounger’

The stigmatisation and negative portrayal of social welfare recipients is one of the key ways in which austerity and anti-welfare politics are justified and legitimated in the UK. In particular, the ‘benefit scrounger’ has become one of the most salient and well-known figurations of UK austerity politics, frequently (re)produced and widely circulated across both media and political sites. In this paper I examine and read together two different media representations of benefit recipients – from Ken Loach’s 2016 film I, Daniel Blake and from Channel 4’s 2014 documentary series Benefits Street – and argue that it is through its sexualisation and racialisation that the ‘benefit scrounger’ becomes legible or knowable in public discourse. These processes by which the ‘benefit scrounger’ is made legible, in media representations as well as elsewhere, furthermore, function to discursively foreclose the potential for its appearance as a recognisable and legitimate political subjectivity. Thus, as well as highlighting this figuration as one important way in which sexual and gendered regulation operate within the context of austerity politics, this paper also argues for the importance of expanding the limited discursive space available in the neoliberal present for working-class political subjectivities.


Jacqui Gibbs

Vulnerability in discourses of UK austerity

This paper responds to a renewed interest in vulnerability within feminist theory, and considers how a “politics of vulnerability” works in the context of UK austerity. Beginning with a consideration of why vulnerability has been understood as a loaded concept for feminist politics, this paper draws out some of the possibilities for thinking about vulnerability alongside a consideration of affect. Why might feminist thinking about vulnerability be important in the context of austerity? And how might a feminist politics around vulnerability imbue claims against austerity policies with meaning?