Tuesday 11th March

Silverstone, room SB325, 1-2pm

Speakers:
Chiara Bernadi (University of Warwick)
Asuman Ozgur Keysan (University of Strathclyde)

Chair:
Dr Eleftheria Lekakis (Media, Film & Music, University of Sussex)

Abstracts:
Chiara Bernadi – “Woman” AND “#Egypt”: The Silent Revolution for Women’s Rights. Harassmap

This paper will analyse the role played by independent organization Harassmap, run by Egyptian men and women, with the aim to ‘put an end to social acceptance of sexual harassment’ in the country.

It will be argued that Harassmap situates itself at the intersection of activism, digital media and semiotics. It is an interactive map that exemplifies the best uses of the Internet and the many tools and platforms offered by web 2.0. Harassmap is first and foremost a map where Sexual Harassment becomes a visible issue, exists and is ‘exposed’ in a country where bystanders turn a blind eye to instances of sexual harassment and even violence. Furthermore, Egypt’s legal frameworks are supplanted by social and societal practices, and where significant issues such as sexual harassment were never really covered by the mainstream media until the advent of the Egyptian Revolution and the assault of journalist Lara Logan.

In addition, there is a third dimension that Harassmap brings to light and that deserves greater attention. This dimension is that Harassmap is an interactive map that can be viewed online and which is in essence a participatory project where women and men, victims of different sexual offences, can report these cases and increase awareness of ‘Sexual Harassment Hotspots’. The Application Programming Interface (API), and the usual algorithmic usage of Google Maps, changes its meaning and its scope dramatically. Therefore, Harassmap becomes itself a map of personal accounts and reports, cases of assault, stories of worries and unpleasant experiences, as well as instances of rape. Harassmap deserves attention because it rewrites the ideal of the geographical symbol as we currently understand it in the digital era of Google Earth and Google Maps. Rather than entrust their destiny to ‘others’, a red dot on the map becomes the proof that women in Egypt are fighting and that their fight is visible to the world through the sophisticated use of software and platforms. By consequence, all of these elements will be addressed in this paper with the hope to offer a new perspective, and an interdisciplinary approach, to Gender Studies especially in relation to Egypt and the Middle East.

Asuman Ozgur Keysan – Discourses of Women’s Organisations in Turkey: Engendering “Civil Society”?

The women’s movement has a very long and distinctive history dating back to the Ottoman era. After the 1st and 2nd waves of the movement, the 1990s are called the movement’s “institutionalisation” years due to the proliferation of the organizations, broader membership, extended scope of issues and activities and the establishment of national women’s machinery by the government. Moreover, the internationalization of women’s movement and the access of women’s organisations to foreign funding e.g. the EU and the UN to support development of a civil society sector added a new dimension to the movement. In this paper, I will analyse the discourses of women’s organisations that have developed in this context, by employing the new methodology of feminist critical discourse analysis (FCDA). This approach, developed by Lazar (2005, 2007) builds on more established critical discourse analysis techniques by insisting on the importance of gender as a structuring power relations and analysing the ways in which discourses maintain or contest the patriarchal social order, thus contributing to struggles for contestation and change. I aim to show that FCDA can give a convincing answer to the question of how to study dominance and contestation in the discourses of gender and civil society generated by women’s organisations in Turkey, allowing me to investigate whether or not there exists a “counter-discourse” which offers an alternative to the gendered power relations in Turkey. To realize my aims, I will firstly discuss the theoretical and methodological premises of FCDA and explore how best to apply FCDA to my case study. Secondly, I will make an analysis of the discourses of civil society generated by women’s organisations in Turkey on the basis of the collected field-work data in May-midAugust 2012 with 41 women from the Kemalist, Islamist, Kurdish and feminist women’s organisations in Turkey. Lastly, I will focus on the question of whether and in what ways women’s organisations reflect, negotiate and/or contest the dominant discourses of gender and civil society in Turkey.

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