Interdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality Research Cluster (IGSRC) Workshop

Posted by jcm22 at Oct 18, 2018 05:40 PM |
Feminist readings of hetero-patriarchal sexism and violence in Francophone, Italophone and Hispanophone texts and contexts.

Date: 30 November 2018
Time: 11am - 5pm
Location: Charles Wilson 4th Floor Seminar Room 409 (Garendon)

Contact: Marion Krauthaker


This one-day workshop organised by Dr Marion Krauthaker (University of Leicester) and Dr Michela Baldo (University of Hull) will focus on feminist readings of gender and sexuality in Francophone, Italophone and Hispanophone written and audiovisual texts and contexts.

It will pay specific attention to forms of hetero-patriarchal sexism and violence and strategies to counteract it. In this scenario we conceive gender as non-binary (female, transgender, intersex, male, etc.) and sexualities as multiple (bisexuality, homosexuality, pansexuality, queer sexuality, heterosexuality etc.) and we adopt an understanding of “texts” that range from literary fiction to oral testimony, activist pamphlets, films and audiovisual material, and also pay special attention to translation.

Moreover, we consider categories such as gender and sexuality in intersectional terms, looking at their interconnections with race, class, age, ableism, migration etc., in the current geopolitical climate of austerity and précarité.


Welcome and greetings
Michela Baldo, University of Hull, and Marion Krauthaker, University of Leicester
11.15 -12.15
I. Countering male violence against women
Chair: Michela Baldo, University of Hull
Lidia Salvatori, University of Leicester - From #metoo to #wetoogether: the case of the Italian feminist movement NonUnaDiMeno
Siobhan McIlvanney, King’s College London - Countering Male Silence in Maissa Bey's Puisque mon coeur est mort (2010)
12.15-13.30 Lunch break (bring your own or use campus facilities)
II. Female desire, bodies and heteropatriarchy on screen and stage
Chair: Marion Krauthaker, University of Leicester
Maria Morelli, University of Milan - Performing the Self: Gender, Embodiment and Aesthetics in Italian Women’s Theatre
Karol Valderrama-Burgos, University of Leicester - Early female homoeroticism in Colombian visual culture: a heteropatriarchal representation of invisible lesbianism
14.30-15.00 Coffee break
III. Reclaiming and reconfiguring spaces
Chair: Michela Baldo, University of Hull
Emma Staniland, University of Leicester - Loud Latin American Women: Reclaiming Spaces from which to speak in the Latin American Music Scene
Oliver Brett, University of Leicester - Transgender migrant prostitution: challenging notions of ‘home’ and the gendering of space
Concluding remarks
Marion Krauthaker, University of Leicester and Michela Baldo, University of Hull

IGSRC programme thumbnail
Download a copy of the IGSRC programme (PDF)


I. Countering male violence against women

Lidia Salvatori, University of Leicester
From #metoo to #wetoogether: the case of the Italian feminist movement NonUnaDiMeno

This paper aims to illustrate how the use of social media facilitated the resurgence of an active and visible transnational feminist movement. Drawing from a case study on the feminist movement NonUnaDiMeno, recently formed in Italy, the paper will illustrate its intersectional agenda, and explore the role of social media for the organisation of collective action. The presence of populist governments, the severe application of austerity measures, the recent rise of neo-fascist movements and the advancement of inhumane migration laws contribute to make the Italian context a 'privileged' point of observation to analyse how collective action can rise in response to multiple threats. Since the early 2000s in fact, Italy saw the formation of counter movements engaging in street demonstrations and digital activism, highlighting the inadequacy of the Italian political system and connecting with altermondialist and anti-austerity movements in other countries.

More recently an important feminist movement gained visibility, organising regular meetings and demonstrations and skilfully utilising social media in order to build transnational connections, contribute to cultural transformation and demand political and legislative changes. The NonUnaDiMeno movement is formed of various feminist and lgbtqia+ collectives determined to highlight how gender violence is a systemic problem which manifests itself through legislation, employment and welfare issues, health rights, education, migration policies and media narration. The paper will explore how Italian feminist activists are elaborating an intersectional agenda in order to address these structural issues.

Furthermore, the paper will specifically explore how the #MeToo campaign translated into the Italian context and highlight how Italian feminists utilised street protests and social media to transform #MeToo from an individual demand to a collective struggle against gender violence.

Siobhan, McIlvanney, King’s College London
Countering Male Silence in Maissa Bey's Puisque mon coeur est mort (2010)

This paper examines the binary of sound and silence in the work of the Franco-Algerian author Maïssa Bey, Puisque mon coeur est mort (2010). The text takes the form of an epistolary novel written by a mother, Aïda, to her murdered son, Nadir. Despite the acutely personal histoire which acts as a catalyst for the act of writing, Bey’s protagonist endeavours to speak out for the maternally dispossessed in Algeria - and elsewhere – in order to give voice to a more public Histoire: the textual emphasis on the importance of audibly speaking to her son through her written letters encompasses a political objective of speaking out for all those who have lost a child in Algeria’s bloody décennie noire, leaving a compte rendu of a mother’s profound grief. That account is most vividly conveyed through the many sounds and noises which made up Aïda’s daily life with Nadir and to which she returns repeatedly throughout the work as a source of comfort and strength. She refuses to succumb to both sonic and writerly silence, but, by bearing oral and written witness to her daily life, seeks to counter the enforced 'male' silence imposed by the Algerian authorities on her freedom of expression.

II. Female desire, bodies and heteropatriarchy on screen and stage

Maria Morelli, University of Milan
Performing the Self: Gender, Embodiment and Aesthetics in Italian Women’s Theatre

The political nature of Italian women’s self-representation in theatre in the late 1960s and early 1970s goes unquestioned. Positioning themselves within a feminist critique, women were drawing attention to their relationship to the dominant, phallocentric system of signification — a militant and radical strategy of intervention vis a vis patriarchal culture. In the Lacanian model of the symbolic order, “woman” is constituted as absence or lack (of the phallus) and cast in a position of object in relation to the male subject. Women's self-representation is thus a discourse of the objectified Other. Italian women’s reappropiation of the dramaturgical operates to unmask and deconstruct this objectification by way of placing “woman” in the position of the speaking subject, that is, in direct defiance of the patriarchal (mis)construction of meaning.

My paper looks at how this reappropiation takes place in two plays by writer, poet, journalist and playwright Dacia Maraini: Il Manifesto [Manifesto] (1969) and La donna perfetta [The Perfect Woman] (1974), which the author has identified as belonging to her most militant (‘barricade’) theatre. Taking these texts as paradigmatic of the feminist deconstructive readings of (hetero)patriarchy carried out by a new generation of women playwrights in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s, I will look at how the dramaturgical served as an ideological vehicle for feminism in challenging the power-knowledge nexus that lies at the basis of women’s oppression and in rethinking socially established gender roles. While the connection between social protest and women’s self- representation in Italian feminist theatre in general, and in Maraini’s in particular, has amply and convincingly been discussed, her use of feminist ideology in disrupting existing aesthetic conventions has completely been taken for granted in the literature. My study aims to go some ways towards rectifying this scholarly neglect in considering not just the written text but also, and especially, the original video recordings of the performances. Continuing the line of mimetic rejection inaugurated in the Italian context by Luigi Pirandello amongst others, whilst also distancing itself from the excess of experimentalism of the coeval neo-avant- garde, Maraini’s theatre proves a convincing political tool to restore the voice of women’s long silenced bodies — with the focus on the theatrical (in the sense of both dramatic and deliberately exaggerated) nature of the gender(ed) identity performed on stage.

Karol Valderrama-Burgos, University of Leicester
Early female homoeroticism in Colombian visual culture: a heteropatriarchal representation of invisible lesbianism

Homoeroticism has been typically conceived as a taboo subject in patriarchal contexts, understood as one form of deviated representations of love, nudity, sex and/or desire. However, when homoerotic representations have referred to female desire and bodies, they are seemingly and widely accepted by heteronormative viewpoints because they tend to reassert gendered visual aesthetics and sexual male phantasies within patriarchy. This paper addresses female homoerotic representations of the film La Mansión de Araucaima (Carlos Mayolo, 1986) and the 10-episode television series Los Pecados de Inés de Hinojosa (Jorge Alí Triana, 1988), as they both take part of the first transgressive constructions in Colombian visual culture of female homoeroticism and desire, and lesbianism. By examining particular sequences through Laura Mulvey’s revised theory on the gaze (1975, 2015), and Teresa de Lauretis’ queer examination on the film and the visible (1991), this paper suggests that aesthetics and visual strategies employed to represent sexual attraction, sex and nudity between women, actually evince a gendered mode of displaying female eroticism, and the notion of lesbian invisibility in both productions during the 1980s. These sequences also demonstrate how the female characters are deemed as alienated women, reaffirming heteropatriarchal clichés of female homosexuality and perhaps homophobic narratives that indicate that lesbianism cannot exist beyond the private sphere (Anikó Imre, 2013:229).

To conclude, this paper seeks to briefly discuss how these pioneer productions create a disruptive discourse on gender and invisible lesbianism that lasts up until 2003, which later shifts to the apparent establishment of lesbian politics in Colombian visual culture with post-2010 evolving examples of female homoeroticism that have been made by women filmmakers.

III. Reclaiming and reconfiguring spaces

Emma Staniland, University of Leicester
Loud Latin American Women: Reclaiming Spaces from which to speak in the Latin American Music Scene

The first thing to say about this paper is that its own roots are found in feminist collectivity and collaboration: its content has been inspired by the research of final year students with whom I have worked on a module about Latin American narratives of female self-development, and as such is borne of a shared experience that placed females voice and self-representations at centre stage. Three of the young women in the class introduced me to some of the music and musical events explored in this paper, and through their interactions with it inspired me to greater awareness of the enormous value of the creativity, collectivism and activism these artists enact.

I therefore present this work on behalf of our own collective, and to further explore a series of musical spaces being reclaimed/reappropriated by women artists from across Latin America: first, the work of the Chile-based Somos Ruidosa collective, including the all-female Ruidosafest music festival that it has been running since 2016, which serves to provide a platform for women artists in the notoriously male-dominated Latin American music scene, alongside offering public spaces for feminist debate and activities aimed at promoting female empowerment. Secondly, I will present the work of the Somos guerreras rap collective, founded by Guatemalan activist, sociologist, poet and hip-hop artist Rebeca Lane, whose work focuses on reclaiming this especially macho genre as a space of contestation, and for the furthering of feminist ideas and ideals. Lastly, it will explore the recent solo work of the Puerto Rican singer Ileana Cabra, previously known for her success alongside her two brothers as part of the Latino sensation Calle 13. Ilé’s lyrical and visual work will be looked at here as an example of feminist song-writing and the reclaiming of generic spaces on women’s own terms, within the context of heteropatriarchal cultural narratives that require loud female voices to challenge and reshape them.

Oliver Brett, University of Leicester
Transgender migrant prostitution: challenging notions of ‘home’ and the gendering of space.

This paper focuses on the representation of transgender migrant sex workers in a selection of contemporary documentary films produced during a period of significant public debate on prostitution in France. These films are Sebastiano D’Ayala Valva’s Les Travestis Pleurent Aussi (2006) and Angel (2009), Olaf De Fleur’s The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela (2008) and Julian Ballester’s Rue Curiol (2016). This selection is interesting in that it also represents the various stages of migration: the initial promise of a new life abroad, the difficulties of settlement, and the adjustment and acceptance once more settled (although, given the queer theoretical position of this paper, they will not be approached with such linearity).

Reflecting on the often precarious nature of queer migration, and accounting for the various positions on what it means to speak of ‘transgender’, this paper considers the ways in which these films challenge generalised ideas of prostitution as based on the gender concordant female body and as lacking agency. In approaching these challenges, the paper ponders two questions: How do the films intersect with a feminist agenda, if at all? How do the stories represented contend with the neo-puritan? The main discussion will centre on how such questions link into notions of ‘home’ within the context of republican France. The current premise of this paper is that there is a queerness to the construction of these notions which foregrounds the negotiation of both protective (private) and threatening (public/street) features at the same time, and which challenges space as respectively gendered along feminine and masculine lines (and the often punitive but apparently well-meaning control measures deployed to maintain these divisions).

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