Advanced Research Consortium on Gender, Culture and the Knowledge Society

Public Lecture Series, 2013-14


Zoe Mavroudi

Film-maker Zoe Mavroudi will introduce and screen her
film Ruins: Chronicle of an HIV Witch-Hunt (2013), 53 min.

Time: Monday, 24 February: 17.30-19.30
Venue: Kemmy Business School (KBG12), U Limerick

Ruins is a documentary about the shocking persecution and public shaming of HIV-positive women in Greece, in the run-up to the country’s 2012 national elections. It tells the story of the criminalization of HIV-positive women who were detained by the Greek police, forcibly tested, charged with a felony, imprisoned and publicly exposed, when their mug shots and personal data were published in the media.
The case received great publicity in Greece and caused an international outcry. However no political figures or media opinion-makers were held accountable. Ruins addresses this grim moment in Greek democracy; it includes exclusive interviews with two of the HIV-positive women and two of their mothers, as well as interviews with doctors, lawyers, journalists, academics and activists, who campaigned for their release.

The documentary is directed by Zoe Mavroudi. Zoe’s theatre work has been produced in the US and in Europe. Her screenplays have won awards and honors at international festivals and contests, such as the Berlin Film Festival 2013 and the Evolution International Film Festival 2012. Her award-winning screenplay Safeword is currently under option in the US. For the London run of her solo play Beauty is Prison-Time she received three Off West End Theatre Award nominations in 2011, including for most promising new playwright and best female performance. RUINS is her directorial debut. The documentary was funded by Union Solidarity International and Unite the Union.

Dr Tracey Jensen
University of East London

Title: Thrifty mothers, skivers/strivers and the cultural politics of wanting
Time: Thursday, April 10 2014, 1pm
Venue: Foundation Building (F1030), U Limerick

The erosion of the universal welfare state and the post-war social contract has continued at a brisk pace since the forming of the Coalition government, but post-austerity these erosions are overlaid with a new moral imperative around ‘thrift’ and its virtues, embrace the challenge of ‘doing more with less’, finding ways to live on, and thrive, in a time of increasing precarity and contingency. ‘Thrift’ has been embraced, governmentally and individually, as a moral orientation which can cure us of our profligacy and our spendthrift habits. In particular it is women – and more specifically mothers – who are compelled, invited and required to become the desirable thrifty subject. Consequently the figures of failure, waste, excess and indiscipline are also powerfully gendered - and held up as evidence of a bloated welfare state. This lecture examines the ‘cruel optimism’ (Berlant, 2011) of thrift, the futures it tantalisingly promises, the consoling and constructed national nostalgias that it animates and the pathologies it (re)circulates about the ‘wrong’ kind of family consumption. In particular this paper explores the potency of gender in both the re-invention of divisive moral categories of worth, and in popular resistance to the austerity project.

Professor Nicola Mai
London Metropolitan University

Title: Queering Sexual Humanitarianism: Migration, Sex Work and (anti)Trafficking
Time: Thursday May 28. 19.00 -21.00
Venue: Charles Parsons Lecture, Theatre Main Building, U Limerick

Professor Nicola Mai will also screen his film Normal, which addresses the complexity of migrants' trajectories within the global sex industry.

The social protection of vulnerable migrant groups has become a strategic border between the West and the Rest of the world. Asylum and fundamental rights are allocated on the basis of well-rehearsed politics of compassion, whose credibility is assessed on the basis of the performance of stereotypical victimhood scripts. Anti-trafficking moral panics and social interventions play a strategic role within the deployment of these neoliberal governmentalities. By criminalising the involvement of young female and male migrants in the sex industry in terms of trafficking and exploitation, they enforce new biographical borders and hierarchies of mobility. By engaging in the global sex industry young migrant men and women challenge these borders and hierarchies because they are able to afford, morally and economically, ‘abroad’ cosmopolitan individualised lifestyles that are ambivalently queer in relation to established sexual/gender roles ‘at home’. This complexity and fluidity is not recognized in public debates and policies on the nexus between migration and the sex industry. Doing so would mean recognising the shared conditions of increased exploitability and fragmentation we all experience in neoliberal times, whether we migrate or not, whether we sell sex or not.

Dr Róisín Ryan-Flood
Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC) at the University of Essex.

Title: Silence and Secrecy in the Research Process'
Time: Tuesday 10 June 2014, 4pm
Venue: TBA

Ryan-Flood is the author of Lesbian Motherhood: Gender, Families and Sexual Citizenship (Palgrave, 2009) and co-editor (with Rosalind Gill) of Silence and Secrecy in the Research Process: Feminist Reflections (Routledge, 2009).

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Advanced Research Consortium on Gender, Culture and the Knowledge Society