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Gender Research Seminar 2020: Feminist Methodologies

The Gender Research Seminar is a yearly interdisciplinary course, jointly organized by VUB, UGent and UA, that offers  PhD- students advanced training by renowned experts in research methods and topical issues in the field of gender and diversity studies. The Gender Research Seminars offer PhD- and advanced master studies in-depth and advanced training in topical issues in Gender Studies and related fields such as Sexuality Studies, Queer Studies, Cultural Studies and Post-Colonial Studies. 

The course offers added value to existing courses by providing in-depth and advanced knowledge and training by renowned experts from a variety of academic disciplines, but thematically related to the fields of gender, diversity and intersectionality. The course presents a combination of keynotes and masterclasses. It addresses a broad range of students from a variety of academic disciplines (sociology, philosophy, anthropology, psychology, political sciences…) and hence allows for networking and exchange across disciplinary borders. The course content and format are renewed on a yearly basis, which allows students who followed previous editions, to re-register for this edition.

This year’s focus is on Feminist Methodologies. Feminist research is characterized by its thematic focus on the study of inequalities based on gender in interaction with other categories of differentiation; its incisive critiques on the assumed objectivity and neutrality of dominant research paradigms; and the development of feminist epistemologies centralizing questions of relationality, embodiment and ‘strong objectivity’ in the research relation. The insights developed in feminist research have therefore benefited to researchers recognizing the impact of positionality and power inequalities in research and exploring how these can be concretely integrated and applied in research.

The seminar comprises 3 keynote lectures and 3 masterclasses. The lectures are open for a broad public; the masterclasses are only for PhD-researchers. PhD-researchers from VUB, Ugent or UA who follow the whole program can earn 3 credits.



DAY 1: MONDAY 25 MAY 2020      

9:15-9:45: registration 

9:45-10:00: welcome & introduction

10:00-12:00: Keynote 1 by Nikita Dhawan "Critical Contemplations on Feminist Epistemologies, Methodologies and Ethics" 

The talk engages with the formative concepts of diversity and intersectionality as a 'corrective' methodology, inquiring how far they are epistemic and political tools for achieving gender justice that open up spaces for marginalized constituencies, including racial and religious minorities, queers, and women* and how they unwittingly reify the hegemony of an entitled majority by failing to realize the emancipatory possibilities promised by discourses of diversity and intersectionality.


Nikita Dhawan is Professor of Political Science and Gender Studies at the University of Gießen, Germany. Her publications include Impossible Speech: On the Politics of Silence and Violence (2007); Decolonizing Enlightenment: Transnational Justice, Human Rights and Democracy in a Postcolonial World (ed., 2014); Global Justice and Desire: Queering Economy (co-ed., 2015); Negotiating Normativity: Postcolonial Appropriations, Contestations and Transformations (co-ed., 2016); Difference that makes no Difference: The Non-Performativity of Intersectionality and Diversity (ed., 2017), and Reimagining the State: Theoretical Challenges and Transformative Possibilities (co-ed., forthcoming 2019). She received the Käthe Leichter Award in 2007 for outstanding achievements in the pursuit of women’s and gender studies and in support of the women’s movement and the achievement of gender equality. ( 

13:30-16:30: PhD-masterclass with Nikita Dhawan


DAY 2: TUESDAY 26 MAY 2020

9:30-10:00: Registration

10:00-12:00: Keynote 2 by Alexis Paton “Empirical Bioethics and Feminism: Two sides of the same coin”

Empirical bioethics and feminist approaches to the social sciences have developed with and out of each other over the last few decades. In this lecture, I reflect on the uses of empirical data and ethical theory in feminist theory & activism. I will discuss the development of empirical bioethics alongside feminist methodologies and theories.  Using examples from my own empirical work on women with cancer making fertility preservation decisions, I show how these two approaches to bioethics work can come together to develop important theoretical insights on patient decision-making.  


Alexis Paton is lecturer in Social Science Applied to Health at Leicester University (UK), the Chair of the Committee on Ethical Issues in Medicine for the Royal College of Physicians, and a Trustee of the Institute of Medical Ethics.  She joined the SAPPHIRE group in December 2017. Her research focuses on how sociological theory and qualitative research methods can be combined with bioethical frameworks to improve healthcare services. She is particularly interested in how decision-making occurs in practice in the NHS. Using this sociological bioethics lens, her work identifies where existing policies and guidelines on decision-making require re-evaluating to facilitate improved support for patients and staff making healthcare decisions. By examining decision-making empirically, using qualitative methods, her research also explores the important role of the social sciences in the development of bioethical theories that are used in everyday medical practice. (

13:30-16:30: PhD-masterclass by Alexis Paton 


DAY 3: 27 MAY 2020

9:30-10:00: Registration

10:00-12:00: Keynote 3 by Nicole Westmarland "Researching Gender Violence"

abstract tba


Nicole Westmarland is the Director of the Durham Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA). Her research consists of around thirty research and consultancy projects in the field of male violence against women. She is particularly known for her work on rape, domestic violence and prostitution which has underpinned a number of policy changes and which she has spoken about all over the world. Her most recent book was published in May 2015 by Routledge - 'Violence Against Women - Criminological Perspectives on Men's Violences.' Her most recent research report was Project Mirabal about domestic violence perpetrator  programmes. In the Department of Sociology she teaches on the MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice and convenes and teaches the Violence and Abuse module.  She strongly believes that academic research should be used to create positive ‘real world’ social change and it is this that drives her personal research agenda. Her recent academic advisor and consultancy positions have included Special Advisor to the Joint Committee on Human Rights for their Inquiry into Violence against Women and Girls (2014-15) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (2012-15). Previously, she has also held the position of Special Advisor to the Government’s Victims of Violence and Abuse Prevention Project and chaired one of its Expert Groups. Her research has directly underpinned two major government policy reform processes (HM Government Stern Review into Rape and the Home Office Coordinated Prostitution Strategy). She held the voluntary position of Chair of Rape Crisis (England and Wales) for five years. ( 

13:30-16:30: Phd masterclass with Nicole Westmarland 



Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels
Van 25 mei 2020 om 9:15 tot 27 mei 2020 om 16:30 Add to personal calendar

Registration Gender Research Seminar

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