Session 33

Feminist Methodologies

Women and gender studies is extremely diverse in terms of objects, theories and methods. Nonetheless, a frequent starting point for feminist research is the critical examination of‚ mainstream science. This is done with reference to blind spots and non-redeemable claims to objectivity. For this reason, it is advocated disclosing one’s own research position. However, this diagnosis of a multi-perspective feminist standpoint is followed by questions regarding feminist methodology: What methodological implications does such research have and how can it be methodologically fulfilled? What is the relationship between feminist theory and methods? How can standpoints and perspectives be localized? Which references can be made to other current methodological concepts?



1.Interpreting Gender Inclusion in Urban Public Space Paradigms in India

Aishwarya Isha  (Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India)

Gaurav Raheja  (Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, India)

This paper explores urban public spaces and their inclusiveness for women in an Indian context through literature reviews. It also discusses the tools and methods being used to conduct studies on gendered public spaces. It is a general perception that public spaces are gender-neutral and designed to be used by all, however studies have revealed that these spaces are highly gendered in nature. The two goals, “Gender Equality” and “Sustainable Cities and Communities” (Goals 5 and 11 respectively) from the Sustainable Development Goals, also focus on achieving gender equity and inclusion in public spaces. The review was conducted after going through exhaustive literature related to gender inclusion in public spaces. “Spatial” and “Social” were identified as two broad indicators to assess the qualities of gender inclusiveness of any space. Case Studies related to Gender Inclusive urban public spaces worldwide were studied to be adapted for the Indian context. Several tools were identified from the literature and case studies to be further categorized under three broad types – Observational, Participatory and Technology-Enabled Tools. In conclusion, the review reveals that Gender Inclusiveness of any space is primarily influenced by the indicators of accessibility, mixed-use activities, provision of public amenities and perceived sense of safety. After careful evaluation of the strengths and limitations of the tools available, it was found that to study Gender Inclusiveness of any space; a mixed-method approach is required to gather both quantitative and qualitative data from users and spaces. The paper shares contextual perspectives of various methodologies that could be employed in gender sensitive studies in Indian and Global South context.


2.Gender relations and (suburban) space in the 21st century – investigating the implicit impact of feminist planning critique

Henriette Bertram  (Kassel University, Germany)

During the past 40 years, feminist researchers and practitioners have criticized spatial planning for its orientation towards the spatial patterns of the male breadwinner commuting from his home in the suburbs to his workplace in the city. Few childcare facilities, inadequate public transport and little employment in or near the “dormitory towns”, however, made it impossible for most women to be economically active. Nowadays, women all over the world pursue professional training and take their participation in the labour market as a given. Men do household chores and take paternity leave, even though still significantly less than women. There is an increasing awareness of the social contractedness of the category gender and a growing acceptance for non-binary identities. As a result, gender-sensitive planning was introduced in many municipalities. Its intention is the “reconciliation of ‘work and home’” and to create “enabling time-space patterns” for all (Tummers, Denèfle, and Wankiewicz 2019, 88). In my current research project called “Gender relations in Suburbia – a subject for spatial planning?” I ask whether and in which ways the feminist and gender-related critique of suburban spaces is nowadays incorporated into newly planned suburban districts in Germany, using Hamburg-Oberbillwerder as a case study. The methodological problem I would like to discuss in my contribution is the fact that “gender” as a category does not feature anywhere in the masterplan or other relevant planning documents. Some of the demands of feminist and gender-sensitive researchers and practitioners, however, seem to have found their way into the project. I will show how a variation of the qualitative content analysis according to Mayring that combines inductive and deductive elements, the analysis of planning documents and expert interviews can help to carve out gender relations and the reconciliation of work and home as an implicit category in the planning process.


3.Methodologies in a postcolonial world – between accuse and excuse. Affirmative Sabotage as a tool for more responsibility in postcolonial-feminist research

Sandra Altenberger  (Institute of Educational Science University of Innsbruck, Austria)

Following a postcolonial-feminist and deconstructivistic informed discursive analysis of how gender itself and gendered subjects are constructed and named in the UNESCO concept of Global Citizenship Education, a structural analysis (Jäger 2015), a intense coding procedure and a detailed analysis relied on analytical concepts (interpretative schemes or frames (Deutungsmuster), ‘phenomenal structure’ (Phänomenstruktur) and ‘narrative structure’) of Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD) presents the methodological core of my study. Trying to contribute to a decolonization of methodologies, the central question is: How to follow the difficult task of decolonization of knowledge production in discourse analysis, whereas upholding euro-centered methodological concepts and traditions (like SKAD – Keller 2005)? Is it enough to be critical in a postcolonial way and reflect the entanglements of the methodological traditions and take into account post- and decolonial literature? What does decentering of euro centered knowledge production really mean for our ‘research-practice’ – does it need a more fundamental and more responsible questioning and reconceptualization of the humanities, as Spivak suggests? How do we deal with the difficult task of decolonization and the contradictions of our responsibility? Maybe an affirmative sabotage (Spivak) could be an adequate strategy to solve this tension and contribute to a decolonization of (discoursive) methods? In this sense euro centered, imperialistic informed methodology and research itself, must be sabotaged in an affirmative way. This would mean to take a close look in the writings of enlightenment (and recurring ideals in literature, methods, research) to turn them around in a critical and questioning way. “Spivak supplements the term sabotage with the adjective ‚affirmative ‘, devising a strategy in which the instruments of colonialism are turned around into tools for transgression, poison turned into medicine.” (Dhawan 2014: 71). Therefore, it could be useful to ask more questions like: how to deal with the privileged function of critique in our methodological practice in a postcolonial world? My contribution to this conference will focus on the strategy of affirmative sabotage as a possibility to find a way between accusing and excusing the colonial entanglements of my methodological procedure.