The Luminary Postgraduate Magazine Lancaster University

The North West Gender Conference 2014.

Constructions of Gender in ResearchGender Cover

Issue 5: Winter 2014

ISSN 2056-9238 (online)

The second annual North West Gender Conference was held at Lancaster University on 22nd April 2014. The conference was attended by 80 postgraduate students from across the UK who came together to discuss gender in a variety of contexts. This special issue of The Luminary contains a selection of conference papers which were submitted for publication. The diversity of the papers highlights and reflects the range of research areas that were represented at the conference.   

Read online by following the links below or download this issue as a PDF.

Editor’s Note

Siobhan Weare, Lancaster University


Gender and Power: Sterilisation under the Emergency in India, 1975-1977

Gemma Scott, Keele University

India’s Political Emergency (1975-1977) has not been subject to a gendered historical analysis. This is particularly disconcerting in relation to the infamous sterilisation policies of this period. They were the most vigorous family planning programme pursued by the Indian government since independence and involved the widespread use of coercion and force. This paper will analyse the programme of coercive sterilisation in gendered terms. It argues that the programme’s entrenchment within gendered identities was central to its disempowering nature and also to its involvement in the wider workings of the disciplinary power structure of the Emergency State.  The paper will first conceptualise these sterilisation policies as being directly linked with state power and then consider their gendered nature, in terms of both masculinities and femininities. Read>>

Queer and Transgender Representation, and the Queering of Language in the Works of David Foster Wallace: So What [is] the Exact Pernt to that Like [?]

Matthew Alexander, University of Liverpool

Essentialist notions of gender, borne out of the ideology of identity politics, play a significant role in determining what and how research materials are used in gender studies. Consider David Foster Wallace’s corpus. Much of the research that exists to date follows a hetero-normative line of enquiry, the bulk of it doing little to address Wallace’s repeated use of non-conventional gender representation in his works of fiction. Instead, critics focus on common, over-worked themes such as irony (Goerlandt; den Dulk), addiction (Freudenthal), freedom of choice (Jacobs), and philosophical arguments (Olsen). This paper considers Wallace’s use of queer and transgender, and Wallace’s ‘queering’ of language. By conducting a close textual analysis of Infinite Jest (1996) and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (1999), attention is given to those moments in Wallace’s narratives that have been overlooked. Arguably, Wallace complicates issues of gender to such an extent that it becomes difficult to affix essentialist attributes to gendered roles, allowing for progressive debates to form. Studies in gender have largely been the domain of feminists and queer theorists thus far, and in spite of the dismantling of gender that has occurred within academia, little has changed out in the ‘real’ world where gender stereotypes thrive. Wallace’s corpus serves to take the reading of gender into popular culture, thereby widening the debate. Read>>


Gender and energy issues in the global south: implications for the post-Millennium Development Goals agenda after 2015

Giulia M. Mininni, Keele University

Due to the conditions of gender inequality that limit women’s access to and control over environmental resources in remote rural areas, unfavourable environmental conditions tend to have more negative effects on women than on men. The same considerations can be applied to the lack of access to energy services, especially given women’s traditional roles and responsibilities as housekeepers. This happens more consistently in areas where people are directly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. This paper will explore how access to energy services is essential to improving the living conditions of women in off-grid rural areas of the global south, and, in the end, to contribute to global poverty reduction. It will highlight how for a long time energy projects have been treated as “gender neutral”, founded on the belief that energy issues and solutions were the same for men and women. However, the reality is different in most countries in the global south. The paper will outline how gender sensitive policies and programmes are necessary to address women’s specific needs. Finally, the paper will focus on the post- Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda and underline how the new framework has the potential to offer opportunities to integrate energy access as a priority goal. Small-scale decentralised energy options could also ensure better participation at local level of under-represented groups such as women and push for better gender equality. Read>>


The De-Construction of Masculinism in the Two Contemporary Nationalist Schools of Thought: Primordialism and Modernism

Rahaf Aldoughli, Lancaster University

Feminist analysis has uncovered the gendered nature of nations and nationalism. Adopting such a perspective, the interrelation of masculinist language and the failure to regard the question of women in the two antagonistic conceptions of nations and nationalism; primordialism and modernism, have formulated a perpetuated masculine identity of the nation and located women continually outside the nationalist discourse. In this sense, this paper interrogates the construction of masculinism in the nationalist narrative in the two contemporary schools of thought; primordialism and modernism. Hence, this paper will uncover the constructions of masculinity within the nationalist discourse from a feminist perspective. This unearthing of the theoretical rooting of masculinism in the dominant theorisations of nations & nationalism will be detected in the writings of the four nationalist theorists; Harold R. Isaacs, Clifford Geertz, Hans Kohn, and Benedict Anderson. Read>>


A note on the contributors:

Siobhan Weare is a lecturer in Law at Lancaster University. Her research interests are focused in the areas of criminal law and criminal justice and she is currently exploring the socio-legal responses to women who commit serious offences, including homocide and sexual violence. More generally, she is also interested in violence against women, domestic violence, sexual offences and criminal legal and gender theory.


Gemma Scott is a PhD student in the department of History, at Keele University.


Matthew Alexander holds an MA in contemporary literature and culture from the University of Manchester. He is currently undertaking a PhD English at University of Liverpool. His research focuses on Wallace's  use of Wittgenstein's philosophies throughout his works in relation to 'thought experiments,' and the potential rise this gives to manipulations of gendered space, boundaries, and representations. 


Giulia Mininni is a PhD student in the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy, at Keele University.


Rahaf Aldoughli is a PhD student in the department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, at Lancaster University. She researches the alliance between nationalism and gender in the narrative of nationalist discourse, interrogating the lingustic masculine bias detected in the most prominant Syrian nationalist thinkers juxtaposed with the disregarded question of gender in their theorizations. This fixity of masculine language in the narrated nationalism can be reflected in the way nation & nationalism have been inagined and constructed culturally, politically and linguistically.



We would like to thank our peer reviewers for their kind consideration and efforts with this issue

Special Edition Editor: Siobhan Weare

General Editor: Chloe Germaine Buckley

Thanks also to The Law School, Lancaster University and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Enterprise Centre, Lancaster University.

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ISSN 2056-9238