Upcoming events

Feminism and Foucault

When –

Where – City University London- Room AG20 – College Building

Please book your free place here

There is a now vast literature that relates to Foucauldian themes, but which aspects of debate are most pertinent to your specific investigation? How might you mobilise them? In this lecture-plus-workshop, Professor Vikki Bell explores the possibilities for reading Foucault’s thought within feminist analyses in a way that prioritises potential directions and questions for your own projects. Topics that will be covered in the lecture include: the concept of genealogy; modalities of power; subjectivity; performativity, and the work of Judith Butler; bio-politics. In the workshop, further issues will be discussed as they arise from our discussions.

This event is directed at PhD students and ECRs, we recommend the following readings and to come along with questions/points for discussion to make sure everyone gets the most out of this event!

Bell, V (2007) The Promise of Performativity: Theory and/as Political Ethic. In: Bell, V. Culture and Performance: The Challenge of Ethics, Politics and Feminist Theory. Oxford: Bloomsbury: 11-28.

Bell, V (2007) Performativity Challenged? Creativity and the Return of Interiority. In: Bell, V. Culture and Performance: The Challenge of Ethics, Politics and Feminist Theory. Oxford: Bloomsbury: 97-120.

Butler, J (1997) Subjection, Resistance, Resignification: Between Freud and Foucault. In Butler, J. The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press: 83-105.

Butler, J (2004) Violence, Mourning, Politics. In: Butler, J. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso: 19-49.

Foucault- Lecture on bio-politics: 17th March 1976 from Society Must be Defended: Lectures at the College de France 1975-6


About the speaker: Professor Vikki Bell

Vikki Bell is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Unit for Global Justice in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. She studied Social & Political Sciences at Cambridge and gained her PhD at Edinburgh University in 1992. She has taught across all levels at Goldsmiths since she joined in 1993, and has convened the MA Critical & Creative Analysis. She has been a Visiting Scholar at Berkeley, University of California, Yale University, University of Buenos Aires and the International Institute for the Sociology of Law (Oñati, Spain). Vikki is the author of four monographs, including Culture and Performance (Bloomsbury, 2007). Widely published in peer-reviewed journals, she has addressed questions of ethics, aesthetics, subjectivity and politics across the social sciences and theoretical humanities. Recently her work has explored cultural-aesthetic aspects of transitional justice in Argentina, where her research has been funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and, in 2015-7, by the Economic & Social Research Council. The most recent publication from this project is The Art of Post-Dictatorship: Ethics & Aesthetics in transitional Argentina (Routledge, 2014). This work has recently extended to include Chile.



Seminar Series: Sowing hope and struggles: Ecofeminism, Food and Social Justice

Ecofeminism emerges from common ecological and feminist struggles against capitalist patriarchy. It departs from the general premise that the domination, oppression and exploitation of women and nature are fundamentally interconnected under a violent and hierarchical system of power. Growing, processing and preparing food are activities that clearly bring together issues around gender, nature and neoliberal capitalism.

Smallholder farmers grow about 90% of the food grown in Africa and 50% of the world’s food. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that around 80% of those small farmers are women, many of whom go hungry and often lack the right to own the land they farm, with women farmers receiving only 5% of available credit. At the same time, female farmers are often referred to as “farmers’ wives” in most developed countries. And across the world women are still mostly in charge of “feeding the family”, while television programmes are full of male celebrity chefs.

Against this backdrop, initiatives like Via Campesina – ‘the international peasant movement’ – are increasingly highlighting the need to resist neoliberalism together with patriarchy, pointing to for example the manifold forms of violence against women farmers, unequal access to land and gender blindness in the agriculture sector. For Via Campesina, gender equality is requisite to achieving food sovereignty, advanced as an alternative to the dominant agro-industrial model that is exploiting people and nature.

In this spirit, the series of four Ecofeminism, Food and Social Justice seminars, “Sowing Hopes and Struggles” will consider issues around gender and food from ecofeminist and multi-disciplinary perspectives. The series is a joint interdisciplinary collaboration amongst the Food Research Collaboration and two groups based in the Department of Sociology at City University London: the Gender and Sexualities Research Forum; and the Social Movements and Civil Society Research Group.

Ecofeminism, Food and Social Justice Seminar 3

When: Wednesday 4 May 2016, 4 pm
Where: City University London, in Room ELG02 of the Drysdale Building.

Please book your free place here


Jane Dixon

Title: “Implications of structure versus agency for addressing health and well-being in our ecologically constrained world, with a focus on prospects for gender equity”

The long-standing debate in public health and the wider society concerning the implications of structure and agency for health and well-being generally concludes that structure powerfully influences agency, and does so unequally, exacerbating social and health inequities. In this presentation, Prof Dixon will review this debate in the context of increasing environmental degradation and resource depletion. As the global population rises and environmental resources per person shrink, conflicts over the underlying factors contributing to human health and well-being may intensify. A likely result of nearing limits is a further constraint of agency, for both rich and poor, and greater social and health inequities, including gender inequities.

About the speaker: Associate Professor Jane Dixon is Senior Fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University. She will be in London as a Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, based at the Centre for Food Policy. For 13 years, she has conducted research at the intersection of sociology and public health, with a focus on the cultural, social and health impacts of food system transformations. Prior to this research track she was national coordinator of the Health Inequalities Research Collaboration, helping to establish the International Society for Equity in Health. In recent applied research, she has been an advisor to the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office and is a Visiting Research Fellow with the International Institute for Global Health, United Nations University, Kuala Lumpur.

Kate Metcalf

Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) is the only organisation in the UK working consistently to make the links between women’s health and well-being and environmental issues. Since forming in 1988, they have campaigned on issues overlooked in the mainstream environmental movement, bringing a gendered analysis to environmental issues but also broadening the scope of what is considered an environmental issue. This talk will highlight in particular their work on gender and climate change, as well as their current local food work with ethnic minority women in Tower Hamlets.

About the speaker: Kate Metcalf is WEN’s Local Food Project Co-ordinator, and has 16 years’ experience in delivering participatory training, developing community networks and project management. For the past six years Kate has managed WEN’s Local Food programme, including Spice it Up!, the Tower Hamlets Food Growing Network and most recently Gardens for Life. Prior to that she worked on our Gender and Climate Change campaign and supported WEN Local Groups. She also worked for ‘Reflect’ at ActionAid, using participatory methods as tools to promote adult literacy, women’s rights and social change.

Ecofeminism, Food and Social Justice Seminar 4

City University London – Northampton Square, London, EC1V 0HB Room AG21 of the College Building.

Register here


Mary Phillips

Title: “Daring to care: Challenging corporate environmentalism”

Corporate engagement with the pressing environmental challenges faced by the planet are expressions of neoliberal capitalism and based in concepts of ecological modernism. These propose that expanding the role of the market to allocate resources, the identification of appropriate opportunities for further growth and the development of new technologies will provide effective means of environmental stewardship. This talk argues that while corporate environmentalism conforms to capitalism’s own ethical rationality, such a rationality has proved ineffective in halting the destruction of the living world. To bring about the changes required to ensure planetary flourishing, we need to look elsewhere. The talk will propose that an ecofeminist and embodied ethic of care can provide a resource on which to build a more radical commitment to healthy, life-affirming relationships. These celebrate the interconnections between human and more than human nature and value affective engagements with the living world. Ecofeminist care ethics strive to develop a practical morality from which to motivate action to contest corporate abuse of human and nonhuman nature.

About the speaker: Mary Phillips is a Reader in Organisation Studies at the University of Bristol. Her research focuses on transformative, and particularly feminist, alternatives to the neoliberal agenda on planetary flourishing. She has published in journals such as Culture & OrganizationGender, Work & Organization,Organization and Organization Studies. Her recent anthology: Contemporary Perspectives on Ecofeminism was published by Routledge in 2015. She is also active in green politics, and a member of both the Green Party and Frome Anti-Fracking.

Alice Willatt

Title: “Community Kitchens & Ecofeminist Care Ethics in Practice”

Ecofeminism articulates a radical and politically engaged ethic of care that emphasises the interconnections between humans and the more than human world of which we are intrinsically a part. Alice’s doctoral research seeks to explore the extent to which this care ethic gives meaning to the practices of a community kitchen based in the South of England. The community kitchen has a dual social and environmental justice focus, providing meals made from collected surplus food for people living in food poverty and social isolation. Adopting an action research approach, Alice has worked alongside volunteers of the kitchen to address the tensions and challenges that have emerged as the organisation has expanded from a single community kitchen set up by a group of activists to a large-scale national charity. In particular this transition has allowed her to explore not only how care ethics emerge in practice but also the ways in which they are negotiated and contested. Finally, her research also draws on the rich connections between ecofeminism and the action research tradition, such as their shared social and environmental justice goals and orientation towards creating positive social change.

About the speaker: Alice Willatt is in the third year of her PhD in the Department of Management at the University of Bristol. In particular her research is situated in Critical Management Studies and contributes to the emerging field of inquiry into ‘alternative’ forms of organisation to those based on the economic logic of the market. Alice is also interested in participatory research approaches and exploring academic-activist identities. She is an active member of ARCIO (Action Research and Critical Inquiry in Organisations) and organises a participatory action research reading group for PhD students.