Keynotes

Keynotes

Sabine Hark  (Germany) | Kontingente Fundierungen. Über Feminismus, Gender und die Zukunft der Geschlechterforschung in neo-reaktionären Zeiten | 28.09.2017| Aula, Hauptgebäude der Universität zu Köln

Im April 2002 überschrieb die ZEIT im Ressort »Chancen« einen Artikel zu »Gender Studies« mit »Männer, Frauen, Fantasien«. Berichtet wurde vom Aufschwung dieser »Fachrichtung« an deutschen Universitäten. Die Erleichterung darüber, dass im Zuge dieses Aufschwungs »das feministische Vokabular des Geschlechterkampfs allmählich einer kühleren Betrachtungsweise weicht«, konnte der Autor damals kaum verhehlen. Denn durch diese »kühlere Betrachtungsweise« erlangten die »Gender Studies«, die zwar »aus der feministischen Frauenforschung« hervorgegangen seien, aber, anders als diese, »auch Männer einbeziehen« würden, in seinen Augen ein Niveau professioneller, mit den Regeln und Anforderungen der Wissenschaft und der Universität wie des Arbeitsmarktes kompatibler Reife.

Entgegen der hier in die Gender Studies gesetzten Hoffnung, sie würden ›uns‹ vom Feminismus erlösen, wurden sie in den folgenden Jahren selbst zum privilegierten Objekt des Hasses. Eine breite, neoreaktionäre Allianz im Geiste versucht jedenfallsseitdem, Gender Studies als anti-wissenschaftliche Ideologie und groß angelegtes gesellschaftliches Umerziehungsprogramm zu diffamieren und diskreditieren. Ich möchte vor diesem Hintergrund einige der Fragen, die der ZEIT-Text damals nahelegte, noch einmal aufgreifen. Wie verhält sich Feminismus zu Gender Studies heute? Sind die Gender Studies ein feministisches Projekt? Sollten sie es sein? Oder behindert Feminismus nicht vielmehr die weitere und notwendig anstehende (?) akademische Professionalisierung der Gender Studies? Ist Feminismus überhaupt deren Fundament? Deren Geschichte oder gar deren Zukunft? Stellt Gender dieses Fundament dar? Und meint das dasselbe? Ist Gender noch ein Begriff der Kritik, ein Herrschaft aufschlüsselndes Konzept? Oder ist Gender Routine geworden, einItem auf einer Checkliste, die Inklusion suggeriert: Wurde auch der Gender Aspekt berücksichtigt? Was genau meint das eigentlich? Welche Zukunft also geben wir »der« Geschlechterforschung?

Lucy Suchman (UK) | Intervening with Feminist STS at the Interface of Bodies and Machines | 29.09.2017 | Aula, Hauptgebäude der Universität zu Köln

This talk draws on recent scholarship at the intersections of feminist science and technology studies and design, to explore the interface of digital media and other forms of materiality. Feminist scholarship makes a compelling case for an understanding of the inseparability of the meaning and matter, the virtual and the actual. In my own work I consider how capacities for action are figured at the human-machine interface, and how they might be imaginatively and materially reconfigured. I argue for the value of research aimed at understanding the relationship between humans and machines without resorting either to too easy erasure of differences that matter, or to essentialist divides. This requires expanding our unit of analysis, while recognizing the inevitable cuts through which boundaries between bodies and machines are defined. Building on my experience in worlds of technology research and development, I argue that these reconceptualisations have both practical and political implications for technical innovation. More specifically, I bring these reflections to bear on the boundaries of bodies and machines within the danger zones of contemporary warfighting, including problems of ‘situational awareness’ in remotely-controlled weapon systems, and critical analysis of the racialised and gendered figurations that animate military training and simulation.

Almira Ousmanova (LTU) | The Power of Images: Feminist Art as Political Practice | 39.09.2017 | Aula, Hauptgebäude der Universität zu Köln

It is no exaggeration to say that Public Art is an art capable of anticipating the „figures of political consciousness“ (Alain Badiou). The repertoire of artistic devices invented by artists and the very strategy of détournement as a form of politics turned out to be not only relevant, but, perhaps, most demanded in contemporary protest culture. Flash mobs, silent protests, “Occupy” movement, graffiti, and the use of one’s own body as a textual surface for a political statement – these and other forms of resistance were born in an artistic environment. Feminist art played a crucial role in the formation of this new culture of dissent, its impact is enormous even if that is not always obvious or recognized. The feminist rallying cry “The Personal is Political” which dates back to the 1960–1970s is associated with second wave feminism, yet nowadays we need to rethink the famous feminist slogan in light of a new situation of the melding of the Political and the Personal. In this talk I would like to bring together two sets of questions that are related, from oneangle, to the blurring of boundaries between political activism and artistic actionism, and, from another angle, to the traces and reappropriations of feminist art practices that have gained resonance in contemporary political life. The first set of questions includes the following issues to be discussed: what are the conditions, possibilities and effects of public intervention through artistic gesture? What distinguishes artistic actionism from political activism? Is contemporary art a reservoir of political ideas, or should it be viewed as an independent form of „politics“?

The second set of questions embraces a number of related, yet other topics, namely:in which way did feminist art imagery and political consciousness affect the discursive and visual practices of dissent in contemporary public sphere (iconoclasm, destruction of pleasure, critique of objectification, the usage of the body as an instrument of articulation and utterance) ? And why and how did it happen that the famous statement of Barbara Kruger “Your body is a battleground” (1989) became so important for different social groups, being perceived simultaneously as a slogan of body positive politics in popular media culture, and as a conceptual ground for corporeal activism in public space? And last, but not least, what strategies of public address that were inherent for art feminism of the 1970–1990s are used by feminist artists and social activists in post-socialist countries. How do they work against nationalism, patriarchy, xenophobia, clericalism and homophobia. More specifically, I will speak of some specific feminist art projects and political actions that took place in Belarus, Russia, Ukraine in recent years.