Rethinking Sexual Citizenship: An Interview with Prof Diane Richardson

Emma Casey interviewing Diane Richardson

Dr Emma Casey interviews Prof Diane Richardson, Newcastle University for the Sociology podcast series

A special podcast was recorded in March 2019 to discuss with Professor Diane Richardson her paper ‘Rethinking Sexual Citizenship’, which was the winner of the 2018 Sociology Journal Sage Prize for innovation and Excellence. The interview was conducted by Dr Emma Casey, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Northumbria University and Editorial Board Member of Sociology. Diane is Professor of Sociology at Newcastle University where she has worked since 1998. She has written for many years on the topic of sexual citizenship and is one of the leading international experts on the topic. In the podcast she talks about the themes of her paper and shares her insights into future directions for sexual citizenship studies.

The link to the Sociology Podcast is here: ow.ly/jxWn50qD1lp

 

Progressing and Regressing, But not Standing Still

 

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Kate Mukungu writes about the recent workshop on Gender-Based Violence held at Northumbria University

Three weeks to the day after being part of Transforming Cultures: A Trans-Atlantic Conversation about Gender-Based Violence, I have given myself a maximum of 30 minutes to write down the impressions that have stayed with me from the session (I am a super slow writer so this is somewhat of an experiment!). If you are anything like me, you will see and hear about way more interesting events than time permits you to attend. These days I barely get along to any and I was inches away from giving this a miss. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Cullagh Warnock, an absolute mine of knowledge about activism, policy development and research on gender-based violence (GBV) in the North East of England and beyond, opened her talk with one of my favourite ever academic statements (from Htun and Weldon, 2013). Being reminded that feminist activism, above all else, drives progressive policy and practice on violence against women, made me smile – it was like an affirmation.

We were reminded by Cullagh about a whole host of challenges, many, but not all, caused by austerity. The difficulties of accessing justice following rape & other violence, and the postcode lottery of whether women have access to Rape Crisis support, were presented to us as appropriately troubling. The push back by groups such as the Centre for Women’s Justice, using strategic litigation as a tool to demand change, made me grateful for the energy and skill of others, to keep pushing on in this relentless relay.

The difficulties of accessing justice following rape & other violence, and the postcode lottery of whether women have access to Rape Crisis support, were presented to us as appropriately troubling.

I wasn’t familiar with Susan Maine’s work prior to the session, but my friend Sue, correctly, assured me that I would find her talk rewarding. I was felt sure that Susan had a depth and breadth of knowing of violence against women issues, which confirmed when I heard her responses to the questions from the floor. However, I appreciated her zooming in on a specific issue from her part of the world, so that those of us on this side of the water could better understand. If any of us were unsure about the significance of the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, we were soon relieved of that doubt. With the balance of votes tipped to the right, hard fought gains for women’s reproductive rights, workers’ safety rights and progressive legislation in general, now seem in grave risk.

In addition to naming the problem of ‘bro-culture’ and its acceptance through society (we might call it toxic masculinity), Susan posed some poignant questions for the group. In doing so she reflected an uncomfortable truth about the price paid by women survivors who step forward to share their experience, out of a sense of duty. That taking a stand about abuse, seems to invariably result in further abuse, was not lost on us. However, given the current President of the USA’s willingness to mock and deride Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, standards of decorum from the highest public official seems to be one area where regression is evident, since the testimony of Anita Hill in 1991.

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The questions and comments from the floor showed how much people in the North East are thinking about gender justice, globally, as well as locally. Whether we were talking about patriarchy globally or right where we were, on campus, we seemed to keep coming back to one particular theme; for all the regressive and scary (oh so scary) developments happening, there are also grounds for hope. Such glimmers come in the activism of younger women and the willingness of people to engage, where previously they may have felt too removed. It felt quite Dickensian by the end of the conversation; that we are in the worst of times and indeed, the best of times.

Kate Mukungu is a PhD student at Northumbria University and Lecturer in Social Sciences at the University of Cumbria

Free Event: International Migration and Inclusive Development in India – Friday 16th November, Northumbria University

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The impact of international migration on a country’s development is the focus of two international conferences taking place at Northumbria University next week.

With speakers coming from across Europe and India to attend, the two International Migration and Inclusive Development in India events have attracted significant interest from experts in the field.

Organised by Northumbria’s Centre for International Development, the workshops are part of a British Academy-funded project, which also includes a three-month visiting professorship by Professor S.I Rajan, from the Centre for Development Studies, in Kerala, India.

Professor Rajan will deliver talks at both workshops based on his research into the relationship between international migration and development in India, and its role in global, national and regional policy making.

He said: “I am having a wonderful and productive time working with colleagues here at Northumbria. We are already discussing future collaborations, funding bids, opportunities for PhD students and staff/student exchanges between Northumbria and Kerala. Migration, and its relationship to development, can now be seen as a key area of expertise of the Centre for International Development’.”

Steve Taylor, Professor of Sociology, a member of Northumbria’s Centre for International development and Professor Rajan’s principal host during his time here, has organised the workshops.

He said: “We are bringing world-leading academics and practitioners within this field to Northumbria. It is only the beginning of a research and policy network, with Northumbria at its centre.”

The first workshop took place on Tuesday 13th of November. The second will take place on Friday 16 November. They are the second and third in a series of four such events. The first took place at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London on 3 November, with the final workshop in the series due to take place at the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai, India on 27 November.

The event on Friday the 16th of November is free, with some limited funding available to support the attendance of PGRs and ECRs. Please contact stephen.a.taylor@northumbria.ac.uk for more information.

Northumbria’s Centre for International Development brings together academics, practitioners and students to promote research, consultancy, teaching, training and public engagement on issues of global poverty and inequality, the communities and individuals who experience this, and the policies, practices and approaches that seek to address it.

Details for Friday’s workshop are:

Workshop 3: Labour and Skill Mobility From and to India: Contemporary Practice and Governance

Friday 16th November 2018 10am-4pm

Room 304E, Business Hub, Sandyford Building, Northumbria University Main Campus, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 8ST

Programme

10.00-10.15 – Welcome and Introduction

10.15 – 11.00 – ‘Skilled and Unskilled Labour Migration: Evidence from the Kerala Migration Survey’. Professor S.I. Rajan, Centre for Development Studies, Kerala, India

11.00 – 11.45 – ‘Indian Skilled Migration and the IT Sector: A Gendered Analysis’. Dr. Gunjan Sondhi, The Open University, UK

11.45 -12.30 – ‘Indian Skilled Mobility and Transnationalism’. Dr. Gabriela Tejada, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland

12.30 – 1.30: Lunch 1.30 – 2.15 – ‘Unskilled and Low-Skilled Migration from Bihar’. Dr. Rani Kumari, SOAS, University of London

2.15 – 3.00 ‘Indian Migration to Italy, Human Trafficking and Unskilled Labour ’. Dr. Pina Sodano and Dr. Marco Omizzolo, University of Roma, Italy This is a FREE event. Some limited funding to support the attendance of PGRs and ECRs may be available – contact stephen.a.taylor@northumbria.ac.uk

My volunteering experience in Nigeria: a life changing journey

Northumbria Sociology Student Elias Elia speaks about his recent experience of volunteering abroad

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This experience was something totally different from any other.  The aim of this blog is to try and uncover some of the realities that exist somewhere on our planet, try to give a tiny taste of how amazing and special this journey was as well as try to inspire “just one” person to do the same.

On the 7th of June 2018, I travelled to Nigeria with international development organisation VSO as part of the UK International Citizen Service programme, where I spent 11 weeks working alongside young volunteers from Nigeria and the UK on a project aiming to improve the quality of education in the schools that we were allocated.

Being part of this team and this journey has been an unimaginable experience.

I wasn’t living in a luxury five stars hotel with a spa and jacuzzi but instead I was living with a local host family so that I was fully immersed into the community and was able to gain a better understanding of the challenges people face there.  As Richard Dowden states in his book ‘Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles’, “the best way to find out is to go, not as a tourist in a bubble of Western Luxury and safety, but as a traveller to meet people and engage with them” (2009, 9). Regardless of the different, difficult and challenging life conditions, I had an incredible and unique time in Nigeria, and I really felt that our project was making a difference in the community and the schools that we were working.

During our first days at the school we had observed the situation and concluded that there were some things, such as around teaching methods, discipline, and school infrastructure, that we could provide some input on. What was also very hard to dismiss was the inequality amongst the two genders that was taking place in the school and in the whole of Nigeria in general. From a very young age boys are socialized in a way that makes them superior to the girls. For example, during break times at the school, boys were allowed immediately to go and play football or do anything else they like. Girls had first to tidy up and clean the classrooms and then go for break time.  This observation can be backed up by Meyer’s and Milestone’s (2012) argument about gender presentation that men are presented in a way for aiming for goals or for example playing football. After doing a session to the kids on gender equality I realized that most of the gender roles and divisions in the Nigerian society are so imbedded and part of people’s everyday lives that many do not even see gender inequality as a problem. We also organised some teacher training workshops to help give the teachers skills and make our impact here sustainable. Topics ranged from teacher motivation to different student learning styles. In the end, it is great to think that teachers took seriously what we had to give them and that will help these kids get better quality of education. Also, through fundraising we managed to collect a specific amount of money which gave us the ability to transform an empty room of the school into a beautiful and functional library with all the practical work done by volunteers (book sorting, cleaning, painting etc).

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Working on the field of education in Nigeria, it is easy to observe that many young people often miss out on a quality education because the education system suffers from wider inequalities as well as from corruption. Some people do not have any education at all. This means many young people do not have the basic knowledge around various sensitive issues which has a big knock on effect on their employment and life opportunities. As Fiyin Durojaiye argue, “corruption is everywhere in Nigeria and it is the major cause of poverty” (The Sun Nigeria, 2017).

With the team, we also ran a number of Community Action Days (CADs) to raise awareness on sensitive issues amongst the people in the community. For example, drug abuse, litter and environment, gender abuse, sanitation and hygiene as well as diet and nutrition.  This gave us the opportunity to take our message regarding sensitive issues out to reach a wider range of people of varying ages, sexes and backgrounds.

Being part of this team and this journey has been an unimaginable experience. The diversity of backgrounds, cultures and personalities within the team was an asset. Our diversity allowed us to see life’s challenges not as stumbling blocks, but rather, as stepping stones to the solutions.  We were a group of people from various different religions, countries, cultures, races, ethnicities and gender.  Also, the fact that I lived and was part of a local community for so long, gave me the chance to experience a whole new culture and make some new friends for life; and what I kept from that, is that people there are still humans, humanity is still alive. Whereas us in the West, amid our wasteful wealth and time-pressed lives we have lost some basic human values like for example happiness, truth and love that still abound in Nigeria.

…the fact that I lived and was part of a local community for so long, gave me the chance to experience a whole new culture and make some new friends for life

I think it’s important that young people, including other sociology students, get involved in projects like this, as it can give them a clear understanding of the inequalities around the world and help them gain a better understanding of how society as a whole, functions, so they can take actions. More than half the world’s population is under 25 and we are the generation of tomorrow, so we’re the ones with the power to change things! I’d really encourage others to think about applying for programs similar to this.

Finally, I want to sum up with a noun that exists within Filipino vocabulary and perfectly describes the outcome of my whole journey as a volunteer in Nigeria.  I am referring to “Volunesia” which means “that moment when you forget you’re volunteering to help change lives, because it’s changing yours”.

To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.

Public Seminar – Transforming Cultures: A Trans-Atlantic Conversation about Gender-Based Violence.

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Transforming Cultures: A Trans-Atlantic Conversation about Gender-Based Violence

We’ve recently seen unprecedented attention to cultures that support or challenge gender-based violence: disclosures about violence and abuse by Harvey Weinstein and others; the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns; plans to outlaw ‘upskirting’; Dr Christine Ford’s accusations about Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to name just a few.

Northumbria University will host a seminar which will reflect on these developments in the UK and the US and is delighted to welcome two eminent scholars/activsts/practitioners:

Professor Susan Marine, Merrimack College, US will speak about how the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings are shaping discourse about sexual violence in high school and college.

Ms Cullagh Warnock, expert on gender-based violence, will talk about the role of specialist women’s organisations in improving services and policy around gender-based violence.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018,

5-6.30pm, Lipman Building, Lecture Theatre 03

 

Book your place via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/transforming-cultures-a-trans-atlantic-conversation-about-gender-basedviolence-tickets-51066816222

Hosted by the Department of Social Sciences andthe Gender and Society Research Hub, Northumbria University, Department of Social Sciences

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