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Session 8A-8C 14:00-17:30 // day one

8A - Women, Work & Culture University of Warwick, University of Leeds, and Monash University South Africa

During the socio-political and economic turbulence of 1960s America, an apparently ‘modern’ time, African American artists and intellectuals engaged with free jazz expression — a performative stance that sought to break away from the stylistic conventions associated with popularised conceptions of bebop, hard bop, and modal jazz. This was done in a way that challenged the aesthetic values and cultural expectations that white European defined ‘modernism’, a term often anchored to a specific geography and period, had imposed and sanctified. This research aimed to introduce and evaluate an alternative framework for considering the progress — whether that be musical, cultural or political — that African American free jazz artists had declared; a framework which takes into consideration existing conversations about aesthetic agency, black moral authority, spirituality and identity and narrative construction to allow for the pluralities of African American experience to be considered fully and without limitation or anecdotal bias. Through archival research and oral history investigations, conclusions of Afro-modernism suggest that considering free jazz within its own cultural history and tradition supports the deconstruction of false race hierarchies and narratives of subordination that saw black artistic expression previously mediated by white criteria. It also makes apparent that countercultural modernity enabled African Americans to reconstruct these narratives in way in which they represented and made valid their cultural memory and artistic history; it gives back to practitioners agency in regards to intent, process, and product that has previously been subordinated by assumed narratives and as such, has impact past this field.

Despite being inscribed in 2016 on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the gradually fading culture of the haenyeo (해녀) sea women in South Korea has largely escaped the public radar. The haenyeo are a community of women who have historically braved the rough waters of the Korea Strait to harvest seafood for a living, often without the help of oxygen masks. This research is aimed at investigating their legacy as Korea’s pioneer feminists and documenting the struggles that come along with their lifestyle, newfound popularity and their endangered status in the historically insulated Jeju island in South Korea. It uses the lens of gender roles and identity politics to highlight how it is timely to shed light on the lives of the haenyeo women and aims to generate a discourse around possibilities of haenyeo culture becoming sustainable and empowering for the women. Through ethnographic research, the historical emergence of the haenyeo identity will be traced to explore the reversal effect it has had on traditional gender roles in South Korea. Furthermore, archival research will examine the sociocultural legacies of haenyeo as documented in the archives of the Haenyeo Museum (Jeju). Interviews with academics Dr Chang Hoon Ko from Jeju National University and Dr Myung-ho Lim from Hansupul Haenyeo School will provide insights on how the cultural identity of haenyeo transcends traditional gender roles. Lastly, interviews with the haenyeo women themselves will explore their own outlook towards their lifestyle to understand how their culture has led to the birth of women being celebrated in a historically patriarchal society.

It is the dawn of a new era, a new age in which women play a pivotal and crucial role in society. Young women are becoming increasingly comfortable with taking center stage and asserting their ability to sway the economy. Such progressiveness is evidence of the essential nature of educating and empowering women: not only does it alleviate poverty, but it also brings diversity and strength to private, public and charitable sectors globally. Recent research suggests that promoting women in industries is crucial for healthy and sustainable economies. This can be achieved through establishing financial institutions to provide capital or start-up plans to women seeking to start their own businesses, in conjunction with educating women on global financial situations whilst providing equal yet competitive opportunities for them to enter the business world. I investigated what links exist between the economic development and inclusion of women to be economic players. The results revealed that the intense handwork ethic of ladies women can't be denied-understated; everywhere throughout the world, real professional strides are being made by women with incredible business savvy, determination, focus and resilience. Women in Africa need to succeed in creating names for themselves and change the poverty hoovering in the continent.

This project depicts Overseas Development Aid (ODA), also known as International Aid, as a colonial legacy in post-independent Zimbabwe. Through the novels, The Book of Not (2006) by Tsitsi Dangarembga and We need new names (2013) by NoViolet Bulawayo, it will demonstrate the devastating impact Western ODA inflicts on adolescent girlhood and the self-image of the native. This is done by analysing the current ODA model alongside existing postcolonial discourse, such as the binary constructions of identity outlined by Edward Said’s Orientalism. This Imperialist concoction distanced the European human experience from the native’s and named the latter inferior and dependant on the former. In the novels, ODA re-produces this colonial myth of opposing identities as it measures the native against European standards of development with little regard for cultural differences. In doing so it replicates colonial oppressions, Othering and culturally dominating the adolescent native girl. Indeed, both authors amplify their protagonist’s vulnerability to a colonised mentality by placing them in the most marginalised strata of society, what Gayatri Spivak calls, ‘the subaltern’. Our protagonists fall into the category of the subaltern as both young women are poor and natives of a patriarchal, colonised society. They’re socio-politically outside the hegemonic power structure that rules them and consequently have the perfect aesthetic profile and need for ODA. While this essay focuses on international aid, it also acknowledges that ODA’s overwhelming domination of the subaltern native would not be possible were it not for the oppressive foundations of colonial and nationalist regimes already established in her country.

8B - Experiences of Women University of Warwick, University of Leeds, and Baruch College, City University of New York

Much work has been done on the Iranian revolution and its impact on women, and even a cursory glance at writing on the revolution makes it clear massive changes to the rights of women occurred over this period. Women's bodies being used as a site of contestation is not a new phenomenon, however the reversal of rights in Iran is particularly interesting because it occurs to the very women that had campaigned and fought for the Islamic republic to gain power. In this paper I examine how women perceive themselves in relation to the nation-state, and the stasis-kinesis that arises from the tension between the modern, liberal values introduced by the Shah and the religious fundamentalism that became intrinsic to national identity.

I believe a fundamental component of our understanding of this cultural moment can only come from research using cultural production. Therefore, in this project I use the primary texts 'Women without Men' by Shahrnush Parsipur and 'Persepolis' by Marjane Satrapi, both Iranian women who experienced the revolution first-hand, to gain a understanding of this socio-political moment of revolution. I analyse the conflicted reactions of the characters to issues such as the hijab, sexuality, discourses around virginity and laws surrounding marriage using a variety of historians and theorists such as Foucault's concept of the medicalised gaze, Meir Litvak's writings on Iranian nationalism and Ahmadi's research on virginity in Iran, in order understand how the struggles in the text give us insight into the revolution more widely.

The formation of the Organisation of Women of African and Asian Descent in 1979 was a catalyst for the black [African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian] British women's movement, creating the first documented national network of black women activists. In post-war Britain, people of African, Afro-Caribbean and South Asian descent conceptualised 'black' as a political moniker for their cross-ethnic coalition. It articulated a diasporic consciousness of their shared experience of racialisation in Britain and joint histories of colonialism and imperialism. OWAAD has been celebrated by scholars and activists alike for asserting a gendered discourse of political blackness “concerning the intersection of race, gender and class“ that gave black women visibility. However, the dominant memorialisation of the organisation underemphasises the exclusion of black lesbian women and fraught praxis of Afro-Asian solidarity, which contributed to OWAAD's demise in 1983. This paper draws on oral history collections, organisational documents, publications by activists and other ephemera to elucidate the exclusion of black lesbian women and political blackness as a contested space. Though the organisation projected 'Afro-Asian unity', South Asian women complained of their marginalisation and some sisters even proposed that South Asian women should not be included under blackness. Furthermore, the counter-memory of black lesbian activists illuminates OWAAD as a space of fragmented visibility and isolation. This paper proposes that the experience of heterosexism further politicised black lesbians, leading to the subsequent black lesbian movement. Ultimately, the question of sexuality expanded the restrictive boundaries of OWAAD's conception of black womanhood.

This study examines kawaii (cute) fashion in Japan. It is primarily a sartorial expression with unique 'cute' style, initially associated with girls' street fashion, but it has widely influenced other fields such as art, design, music, and character merchandising business. Historically, Japan has received various cultural influences from European cultures, including attire and clothing styles, but kawaii fashion is unique to Japan. By studying kawaii fashion and culture, we can learn more about the Japanese idea of aesthetics and the mindset behind its decorative surface. In the presentation, we argue that Japanese kawaii fashion evolved from a sense of rebellion with a desire to express oneself in ways that one normally would not be able to, due to age, social norms, and a normative sense of proper adulthood. The kawaii fashion trend started out as a gesture of youth rebellion against society's norms, especially about marriage and the expected 'life course' for girls and women. Drawing from scholarly articles in Fashion Studies, Japan Studies, and Cultural Studies, this presentation approaches kawaii fashion as a subculture that negotiates social power in terms of gender/sexual identity and builds communities among the practitioners of kawaii fashion. Finally, the presentation argues that this Japanese culture has shifted over time and has been appropriated by U.S. celebrities.

This project aims to create a bottom-up approach to examining the role of women during the early Islamic conquests, looking at the period between 622 and 750 stretching from modern day Spain to China. It aims to combat the erasure of the role of women in Islamic history and to prevent the narrative of exceptionalism from dominating recent analysis. A focus on this early period helps to draw a direct contrast between the lives of women pre and post establishment of Islam as well as recognising the ways that women contributed to the formation of the Islamic world. 'Resistant reading' will be employed to counter source material overwhelmingly produced by men, and to combat the lack of parity between law and common practice, alongside a focus on unearthing primary and secondary sources produced by women, utilising some use of translation from original texts. A current lack of research in early Islamic women, alongside limited work produced with a bottom-up approach means that this project is vital to accurately contextualise contemporary gender studies across the Middle East as well as to understand the social and political contributions of women to a region that dominates modern discourse.

8C - Cultures & Inclusion University of Warwick

Thebes is a city that had been in the shadows of Athens and Sparta for much of ancient Greek history, but after the battle of Leuctra in 371 B.C Thebes was able gain a short-lived hegemony in Greece but also saw the sacred band of Thebes, an erotic military troop consisting 150 older lovers and another 150-younger beloved, become one Greece’s elite military unit.

Writers such as Xenophon have written of the events the sacred band partook in while other writers such as Plutarch talks of their formation and composition. There are also many contemporary writers that explore the sacred band or their involvement in certain battles. These writers and their biases will be explored

What shall be looked will be the composition of the sacred band especially in comparison to units such as the Spartan Hippeis while also looking at in detail the battles they partook in like Leuctra and Chaeronea. The generals and leaders (such as Epaminondas) of Thebes and the tactics and strategy they employ will be explored. It would also be worth talking about the LGBT+ aspects that is in the sacred band especially when considering the masculine image of soldiers throughout history. These can then indicate the unit’s contributions to Thebes and their stamp in classical Greek history.

What my research ultimately attempts to do is see why the sacred band has not been in the same limelight as their spartan or Athenian counterparts and what their culture was as a military unit and as lovers. More importantly, what can be learned from the sacred band is also an aim.

The Roman fortress of Deva (modern Chester) was the largest fortress Britain. It is located on the banks of the River Dee, (from which it is named) and functioned as an important port in the northwest of Britain. The Grosvenor Museum in Chester holds the largest collection of Roman funerary art in the UK, and this collection will form the sample of my research.

Over 450 Roman-tombstones survive, so this research-project will be focus on just one location (Chester) and will look through the lens of ethnicity, sex and freedom; since Rome and its provinces were a slave owning society. This is the first aim of the research. Revaluating archaeological evidence is an important part of the process of research, and interest in the everyday lives of ancient people is currently at the centre of archaeological research.

In addition to this research, the second aim is at ways the internet can assist in learning, and how hard it can be to do so. I will be using Twitter and a blog to record the research process in a way that is accessible and informative to both an academic and general audience.

Recently, this type of research into the diversity of Ancient Britain has raised controversy, especially online (Beard, M. Roman Britain in Black and White, TLS 03/08/2017.) The third aim comes out of the first, looking at how Britain views its past and the extent funerary evidence may assist in understanding the population of Roman Britain.

Black students at universities in the UK have considerably lower retention rates and academic attainment than their White and Asian counterparts (Social Market Foundation and UPP Foundation, 2017). Despite this, the experiences of Black students at universities in the UK is a largely unexplored area of research. Therefore, the experience of Black students is not only interesting site of study, but a vital one. Informed by Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks and Critical Race Theory, this research explores the experiences of Black students at the University of Warwick, a top institution and Russell Group university. The phenomena of ‘belonging’ has been found to positively impact academic attainment, academic retention and motivation (Goodenow, 1993; Hurtado and Carter, 1997). Therefore, this research is particularly interested in feelings of belonging amongst Black students and how they respond to low feelings of belonging. This research used in-depth one-to-one interviews with five Black students who have attended Warwick. Interviews were semi-structured and lasted between 54 minutes to 180 minutes. This research reveals that race has played a key role in shaping Black students’ experiences and sense of belonging at university. Despite, the pervasiveness of race and racism within the academic setting, how Black students experience the university space is an intersectional experience. Other social identities including ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality and nationality intersect with race to shape Black students’ experiences. Students were found to respond to low feelings of belonging in a variety of ways including through excluding themselves from university spaces, seeking emotional support from family and friends, and through involvement in extra-curricular activities.