Gender Challenges in Knowledge Production

This GEXcel research field interrogates gender dynamics and gendered political economy of know­­ledge production within different societal, cultural, scientific and educational settings, natio­­nally, transnationally and globally. The research field explores multiple arenas and actors of knowledge production, from higher education, academia, and scientific and tech­­nological organisations to educational institutions, from policy makers and institutional leaders shaping the conditions of know­­ledge production, to researchers, engineers and teachers, as well as recipients of education and training. Furthermore, it explores the inter­­con­­­­nec­­tions of gendered structures and cultures of knowledge production organisations to research agendas, conceptualisations, knowledge transfer/translation and curricula. One of the start­­ing points is the notion of persistent gender inequalities and slow change that cha­­rac­­terises globally (as well as in the Nordic region) those major groups which have been shaping knowledge production especially in scientific research and technology. The research field develops further several themes of the old GEXcel, including Research Theme 9 (Gen­­dered sexualed transnatio­­nalisations, deconstructing the dominant: Transforming men, “cent­­res”, knowledge/practice), and Research Themes 11-12 (Gender paradoxes of changing academic and scientific organisation(s)). It also links with several other GEXcel research fields.

Key questions concern the gendered impacts of global restructuring and how current neo-liberal transformations are stratifying and diversifying contemporary scientific and research landscapes, as well as educational landscapes, in short eduscapes.  Fun­­damental questions concern who is seen to know, who teaches, who learns, who gets to be taught, what, where, and who is being selected to provide education in schools and in the globalising higher education. What are the gender dimensions of the intensification, diversification, differen­­tiation, and technologization of ‘scientific’ knowledge and institutionalised education, nationally and on a global scale? These developments provide major challenges to traditional ways of organising knowledge production within academia and beyond, nationally and globally, and have already meant significant changes, including: new forms of governance and increased accountability; new stratifications of institutions and professions with increased emphasis on excellence, top perfor­­mance and competition; prioritizing of STEM subjects in national, international, and global research policies, and the growing impacts of ICTs. Analysis of such developments involves deconstructing gen­­dered knowledge production, including the relations of men, masculinities and gen­­dered knowledge

Stratification within different educational and knowledge arenas is also taking new routes in the wake of global transformation, requiring different forms of intersectional analyses. As we can observe a stratified unevenness globally between nations that aspire to positions within ‘the global knowledge society’, we can also observe a multitude of new speaking positions with particular geographies and temporalities depen­­ding on resources or lack thereof, geo­­graphical and political cent­­rality/marginalisation. Locating the gendered multi-layeredness of such different speaking positions is part of the challenge in this research field.

These changes furthermore raise research questions on how gendered and racialised power relations within academia normalise epistemology and guiding paradigms within scien­­tific and educational practices. As such, this research field cuts into the core of contemporary feminist theorising and interdisciplinary gender studies.

Several research strands and projects, funded by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet), and EU FP7, are conducted within this research field, along with the continuation of previous GEXcel Themes.

  • This field covers the following established research strand:

    Feminist Pedagogies, Didactics and Education

    Strand chairs: Edyta Just & Nina Lykke

    There are three main objectives of this research strand. First, it aims to critically-creatively reflect upon the correspondence between the design and delivery of the Gender Studies’ classroom and online courses in terms of content and applied teaching methods and learning activities and the level to which the learning outcomes (i.e., knowledge, competences, and skills) have been achieved by the students. Second, it strives to develop theories (e.g., of the role of affect/emotion in a learning context) that can inspire classroom and online teaching/learning practices and ultimately strengthen both the Gender Studies’ education and students’ ability to integrate the knowledge, they obtain, to analyze and deal with complex phenomena, but also to develop interpersonal and interactions skills. Third, it aims to bring together researches and teachers interested in feminist pedagogies, didactics, and education to form a permanent platform for the ongoing support, reflection, and cooperation with regard to the design and delivery of the Gender Studies’ courses and programs.

  • Globalisation, Eduscapes, Intersectionality

    Strand chair: Ulf Mellström

    We are in this research strand interested in the political economy of contemporary educational landscapes (eduscapes) and in particular ‘the flows and linkages in the production, distribution and consumption of education’ Robertson (2006, 5). We are currently witnessing how many intersecting power dimensions work to form dynamic eduscapes, through which individual and collective subjectivities are formed and challenged. Understanding intersections of gender, race and class is crucial to the analysis, and also how those categories are tied to subject positions such as teacher and student, knowledge provider and knowledge consumer. In other words we are approaching fundamental questions in the political economy of knowledge production and education such as who gets to be taught, what, where, and who is being selected to provide education.

    In contemporary eduscapes, neoliberal commodification paradigms play a leading role in forming national, regional and global educational policy making and practice, from elementary school to higher education. A common denominator is that knowledge is understood on a par with other dimensions of an economy that is subject to processes of commodification and marketization. Many nations and regions around the world are currently engaged in attempts at acquiring leading roles in the global knowledge society based on these processes. The global world is accordingly divided in economies and forms of production dominated by either manual or intellectual (“knowledge” or “creative”) work, and the most successful path is destined to be at the high end of the global food chain, in that part which is built on work dominated by a strong knowledge component. These ideological tropes also directs and forms a cartography of human and intellectual mobility of global eduscapes. In this cartography we observe how desires and ambitions of social mobility is channelled into an economy of development and higher education with asymmetric speaking and power positions in the global knowledge society. Locating the multilayeredness of different positions is part of the challenge in this research strand.

  • This field covers the following emerging research strands:

    Educational media in compulsory sex education

    Strand chair: Anne-Li Lindgren

    Postcolonial perspectives in Child Studies have pointed out how the creation of the “normal child”, or a “normal” childhood, is an example of a colonialist construct seldom destabilized in contemporary society. This emerging research strand takes up on the call for destabilization by exploring a contested practice alien to understandings of the normal child and normal childhood–i.e. (compulsory) sex education. It critically engages with the relationships between childhood, sexuality, innocence and notions of citizenship. It deals with how the strict regulation of children’s knowledge in relation to sexuality, often in the name of protection, innocence or the child’s best interest, undermine children’s abilities to become competent adolescents and adults. This emerging strand focuses on the role of educational media (film, radio, television and Internet) in compulsory sex education in history and society. Key questions are: why and how is media used and reused in various cultural contexts and time periods, what intellectual, emotional and bodily experiences are enacted for and by children and young people in media sex education, and how is the media content related to other teaching materials. The aim is to reconceptualize children’s education around sexuality.

  • Feminist Technoscience Studies: Re-inventing Technologies, Biologies and Medicine

    Strand chairs: Cecilia Åsberg, Ulf Mellström, Margrit Shildrick & Nina Lykke

    This research strand continues and advances the feminist science studies tradition as it has been established and re-established by scholars such as Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, Lucy Suchman, Margrit Shildrick, Stacy Alaimo, Myra Hird, Nina Lykke, Mette Bryld and Lynda Birke at the intersection of advanced cultural theory, feminist materialisms and knowledge production within the natural sciences, medicine or engineering. This field has moved from critiques of science (the woman question in science) to active engagement with “the science question in feminism” (Harding 1986), and taken a quantum leap over the three decennia after Donna Haraway’s famous cyborg manifesto. In this strand we put focus on different kinds of knowledge production, historical and material conditions of existence and bodily ethics in the medical, technical and natural sciences. Key here are transdisciplinary understandings that bridge the modern divide between nature and culture, and its corollary of bifurcations into the so called soft sciences and the so called hard sciences. This strand is marked by a deep-seated feminist commitment to the ways in which gender and intersectionality are entangled with medicine, science and technology. This small, highly influential and highly transgressive field (admixing feminism and technoscience in practice) has in recent years single-handedly reinvented large parts of the feminist conceptual apparatus in gender studies, under portmanteau terms such as for instance - new materialism, agential realism, feminist materialisms, posthumanities, and somatechnics.