Casual co-optations and small subversions: Feminist engagements with the state

Hosted by the Department of Gender Studies

Graham Wallas Room, Old Building , United Kingdom


Jenny Chanfreau

PhD candidate at the Department of Gender Studies

Aiko Holvikivi

PhD candidate at the Department of Gender Studies

Billy Holzberg

PhD candidate at the Department of Gender Studies

Niharika Pandit

PhD candidate at the Department of Gender Studies


Zuzana Dancikova

Zuzana Dancikova

PhD candidate at the Department of Gender Studies

Nikita Dhawan notes that the state is, for feminist politics, a pharmakon – medicine, poison, and remedy all in one. In this roundtable, current LSE Gender PhD students will discuss feminist engagements with the state in their work. Drawing from research spanning the shaming of the state in no-border activism, critiquing social policy, and gender mainstreaming of militarised institutions, our discussion aims to think about different ways of engaging the pharmakon. We ask how feminist practitioners, activists, and academics navigate tensions between the co-optation of feminist politics on the one hand, and the potential for feminist, queer and post-colonial subversions on the other.  

Jenny Chanfreau started her PhD at the Department of Gender Studies in 2015. Her ESRC-funded project will analyse panel and birth cohort data to investigate gender and class differences in career paths and how these have changed over time in the UK. Her research interests include parental employment and the combination of paid work and caring responsibilities. Jenny completed her MSc in Social Policy (Research) at the LSE with distinction in 2008. Prior to returning to the LSE to start her PhD she worked on as a quantitative data analyst at NatCen Social Research.

Zuzana Dancikova  (Chair) started their  ESRC-funded PhD in 2018. Focusing on father’s leaves in Slovakia, they aim to explore how policy affects behaviour, how these effects are constrained by cultural attitudes and in turn how cultural attitudes are transformed. They are interested in whether, to what extent and how policy can contribute to a more equal sharing of paid and unpaid labour by heterosexual parents.  Zuzana previously worked as an analyst at the Ministry of Finance in Slovakia focusing on health care. They also spent four years with Transparency International as an anti-corruption analyst and activist. Zuzana holds an MSc in Public Policy and Administration from the LSE, as well as an MA in Economic Policy and International Relations and a BA in European Studies and Media Studies from the Masaryk University.

Aiko Holvikivi joined the Department of Gender Studies in 2015. Her LSE-funded research focuses on gender training for uniformed personnel (military and police) engaged in international interventions. Her doctoral thesis examines gender training materials and practice with a view to identifying how gender knowledge is translated and deployed in military and police institutions, and how such training might help 'do' gender and security differently. Aiko's broader research interests include questions linked to the international 'Women, Peace and Security' -agenda and its implementation, feminist security studies, critical military studies, and the politics of international military interventions and peacebuilding.

Aiko previously worked on questions related to gender and security at the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) and the European Commission's Directorate-General for Home Affairs. Her professional experience includes policy research and technical advice and capacity-building in the field of gender and security sector reform. She holds an MA in Political Science from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and an MA (undergraduate) with First Class Honours in International Relations from the University of St Andrews. She is fluent in English, Finnish and French.

Billy Holzberg started his PhD at the Department of Gender Studies in 2015 in which he examines what role emotions play in the framing of and public reaction to the 'refugee crisis' in Germany. He is interested in theories of affect, queer studies, postcolonial epistemologies and critiques of political economy. He has been awarded an LSE studentship for his doctoral project and is associated with the International Inequalities Institute as a participant of their Leverhulme scholars programme.

Billy holds a Bachelor in Liberal Arts from the Amsterdam University College and an MSc in Culture and Society from LSE’s sociology department where he received the Hobhouse Memorial Prize for the best MSc performance and dissertation in sociology in 2014. Billy works as a freelancer for cultural consultancies and has been engaged with a number of queer, feminist and postcolonial research and activist groups. He is a member of NYLON and an alumnus of the German National Merit Foundation.

Niharika Pandit began her LSE-funded PhD at the Department of Gender Studies in 2018. Her research examines gender, militarisation and the narratives of home, specifically in Kashmir. She is interested in reconfiguring the boundaries of home, questioning its conceptual fixity when complicated by the processes of militarisation to understand newer forms of be/longing and resistance. Her research is grounded in gender and affect theory, postcolonial thought and transnational feminist epistemologies.

Niharika holds an MA in Gender Studies as a Felix Scholar from SOAS, University of London and a bachelor’s in Journalism from Sophia College, Mumbai. She is a member of the Engenderings editorial collective. Prior to PhD, Niharika co-researched a project on the reporting of violence against women and girls in Indian newspapers. She has also been part of a research group of University of Melbourne scholars developing a framework for intersectional analysis of gendered violence in the media. Her research interests lie at the intersection(s) of gender, militarisation, sexuality, disability and the media. She has worked as a research and development practitioner in India.

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