Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association Biannual conference
"This conference asks: what does it mean to undertake feminist, queer and related critical work within and in relation to institutions that privilege certain ways of ‘knowing’.
Indigenous scholars, queer and feminist scholars, and those using intersectional theories, have long critiqued the politics and practices of knowledge production, along with the related inequalities which emerge across race, disability, class, gender, sexuality and age. In an era of neo-liberal instrumentalism, western epistemologies continue to sit at the heart of institutions which structure our work and/or form its point of reference – these highly particular ‘ways of knowing’ continue to determine what counts as legitimate knowledge, how knowledge is ‘built’, processed and obtained, and what counts as valuable knowledge ‘outputs’. They also contribute to material inequalities in a labour market which is increasingly casualised, precarious, inaccessible, and focused on narrow definitions of worth.
These practices of ‘knowing’ emerge from and reinforce the colonising project that structures dominant institutions. They also continue to centre the normative Australian citizen, and knowledge producer, as non-Indigenous, white, able-bodied, middle class, cis-male and heterosexual. Significantly, despite the assumed ‘neutrality’ of the neo-liberal individual, institutions continue to rest on patriarchal, colonising, abelist logics – and recently, corporate logics which seek to maximise ‘productivity’ have had very real effects on identities and forms of knowledge that are marginalised.
Through this conference, we emphasise two frames to think about what it might mean to ‘unknow’ the institutions that shape our work, or through which we are positioned as subjects, or from which we seek employment. Theories of decolonisation present a challenge to feminist, queer and related critical practice to reflect on what counts as legitimate knowledge, and by extension, how identities and subjectivities can be held accountable. They also present a challenge to take the radical goals of decolonisation seriously. While intersectionality has been critiqued as an approach that is at risk of ‘tick-boxing’ categories (with the power to determine those categories in the hands of the researcher) it remains a vital frame for thinking through privilege and marginality across race, class, disability, gender, sexuality and age."