So far, you have situated yourself and explored some common concepts. Now it is…
Time to Decide the Focus of Your Work
1.Do I Have to Do Feminist Research?
Whether you define yourself to be a feminist, or a certain kind of feminist, does not matter. We are exploring and experimenting with the principles of feminism:
What makes research feminist? A classic answer is that it is research done by, for, and about women. Another is that “feminist researchers produce feminist research”. There is no single definition of “feminist research” (or “feminism,” for that matter), but many authors point to certain key elements as defining features.
Methodologically, feminist research differs from traditional research. It actively seeks to remove the power imbalance between research and subject; it is politically motivated in that it seeks to change social inequality; and it begins with the standpoints and experiences of women. A wide range of methods, both qualitative and quantitative, are available to feminist researchers. Instead of focussing on which type of research is better, it makes more sense to allow the context and purpose of the research to guide the choice of research tools and techniques. There is no one method or strategy for feminist research. The particular situation or context should guide the methodological choices, instead of having a trust in the method as appropriate for every context and situation…
2. Can I Go Wild?
Now it’s the time. As we have learned, feminist research values your position, your passion, your experiences. It wants to break boundaries and hierarchies. It is also very focused on dissecting and deconstructing rules that enforce hierarchies between powerless and powerful, academic and activism, and so on. Alexis, for example, wants to break down the (implicit/explicit) norms of current feminism — the ideas of structural oppression — and look at concrete, practical steps individuals take that may not align themselves with a philosophy or a movement, but are through their work de facto feminists.
Even if feminist themes and issues would not interest you beyond this course, these principles are very much tied to critical thinking, as well as to a sensibility and ability to contextualize. Imagine how important that ability is in international contexts…
So, now it’s the time to do you. That’s why the format of the final project is either a paper or a podcast, or a video essay. That doesn’t mean that you would not need to provide justified arguments, proper references, and solid conclusions. But feel free to let your voice be heard.
3. Practical Tips
- You are allowed to document your own experiences. You can research you, as long as you link it to broader issues, other research results, theories, and concepts. Also: Remember the idea of your situated knowledge when analyzing and interpreting phenomena.
- Conversely, remember the idea of “authorship”, who can speak for whom and about what. Be sure to make sure you are not “taking someone else’s voice”.
- You are allowed to poach from others. We collaborate here, so do comment everyone’s research posts and feel free to (a) ask for help; (b) use same references, ideas, etc. At the end, your final work will be you.
- As noted, express yourself in the final paper/audio/video. Feel free to include art (doodles…), poetry, fiction, film –as long as you link it to broader issues, other research results, theories, and concepts. More detailed instructions will be given on 6/22.
4. Assignment: Pitch Your Research
Feminist research uses a variety of methodologies. So will we.
Your assignment, due on Tues 6/20 at midnight, is to pitch your final research project in one sentence. We will use a formula from branding that many of you know: An Elevator Pitch for Research.
- What is the topic of your research?
- What is the problem, issue, or question that you are asking and addressing in your research?
- Why is that problem interesting and important? (i.e. So what?)
- How does your work connect with a broader disciplinary conversation about this topic/problem in your field, and what does it add to that conversation?
You need to be able to explain your final project in one to three sentences, and include the above listed elements in those sentences. Be as specific and concrete as you can.
[Just made up this example: “I will study the representations of sex trafficking in 12 mainstream newspapers in South East Asia, the Balkans, and the U.S., to see how different cultural contexts frame the problem. This comparative case study will shed light to journalistic coverage of international gender issues, and inform policy-makers and advocacy organizations in their efforts against human trafficking.”]
Due Tues 6/20 at midnight, in your own blog.
PS: Keep on reading Half the Sky! The Book Review is due 6/22.