Feminism and the Academy. Exploring the Politics of Institutionalization in Gender Studies in Sweden
Abstract: The main aim of this thesis is to analyze the process of institutionalization and neo-/interdisciplinarization in Women’s/Gender/Feminist Studies (WGFS) in Sweden, and the construction of feminist knowledge within this process. Furthermore, the thesis aims to contribute to the feminist debates on academic feminism as a transformative project. Three questions have guided the research process: 1) How has feminist knowledge been organized and institutionalized into the academy? 2) What are the effects of feminist knowledge production? 3) How does the location influence and shape feminist knowledge production? An introduction and seven separate articles investigate these areas of inquiry from different, but linked, angles. The key point in this study is that a realization of the potentials of institutionalizing an oppositional subject area - such as WGFS - in the academy, is dependent on the performance of a continuous critical reflection over feminist teaching and research as critical, radical, and transformative. Articles nos. I, II and III investigate the process of institutionalization and the organization of feminist knowledge into the academy. These studies show that the successful institutionalization of WGFS has created an oppositional space for critical interventions of dominant cultural, social, political, historical, economical orders. However, as discussed in articles nos. IV, V, VI and VII, feminist knowledge production also in parts feeds into the production of dominant discourses. These articles study the construction of notions of feminism, proper objects, and historical narratives in academic feminism, and show that institutionalized practices of feminist knowledge production contributes to the construction of dominant discourses through a stabilization of notions of feminism and feminist analytic tools, and through a marginalization or de-legitimization of alternative, or critical voices. In addition, fractions in this feminist discourse are also analyzed, in a study of alternative feminist notions, points of departure and modes of working in feminism. Here, it is displayed that alternatives to the dominant versions of feminism are constructed through oppositional acts, by which a transformative feminist knowledge production is put into practice.
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