To acknowledge and engage with International Women’s Day, and noting the consequences of COVID in the building of intellectual communities while fulfilling social distancing requirements, the Office of Graduate Research developed and delivered the Sara Ahmed Reading Seminar Series.
Running from 21 January to 18 March 2021, the Zoom-based community was opened beyond Flinders University higher degree students. This access was granted to ensure that Flinders students met international scholars, noting that many of the conferences and seminars were cancelled in the last year, but also to offer an intellectual service to students and academics around the world in severe lockdown conditions. The resulting eight weeks of seminars attracted scholars from 11 countries. These sessions were recorded and the videos and podcasts released as open access materials.
This seminar confirms the commitment of Flinders University to feminist scholarship, difficult reading and robust intellectual interpretation. It also offered an international service to students and colleagues to build new connections and communication strategies in difficult times. The feedback has been strong.
‘Thanks again for another wonderful discussion of Sara Ahmed’s work, I first attempted to read this book back in 2011 as a sociology undergraduate student at MMU. I was going to make a point about Ahmed’s writing on Feminist Killjoys, but we sadly ran out of time. On a closer reading, I felt this could be a way of Ahmed trying to subtly confirm the commodification of happiness, by adopting a killjoy position? Best wishes to everybody on the call’ (from a sleeting Greater Manchester) 🙂 – Liam University of Sheffield
‘I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying the Ahmed seminar series. When I attended the first time, I thought I might be “crashing” the party, so thank you for making a stranger feel so welcome. I completed my PhD in History at Macquarie in 2019 and have since moved back to the United States (sadly). I heard about the seminar via the Sydney Feminist History group which I used to attend when I was in Sydney. I read The Cultural Politics of Emotion for my thesis (I had a history of emotions chapter) and have read several more of Ahmed’s works since then just out of personal interest. It’s been wonderfully stimulating to be able to discuss her ideas and you do such a fantastic job of directing the conversation – a master class in Zoom management! Thanks so much. Looking forward to next week,’ – Melanie now a resident of the United States
‘The Ahmed seminar series offered immense learning opportunities across discipline boundaries. Networking with international scholars who brought various perspectives on the spaces Ahmed writes about was an incredible opportunity to build professional networks. Each week brought confusion, tears, laughter, and joy sometimes all at once. The eclectic group drew on Ahmed’s challenges ‘facing people around the world’ and posed multidisciplinary solutions to end global suffering – no pressure. If you have a chance, I strongly recommend you watch some (or all!) of the seminar recordings on Tara’s YouTube channel. For those apprehensive among you, next time a seminar series pops up, jump on board – this has been some of the most interesting conversation I’ve had during my doctoral study (aside, perhaps, from supervisory dialogue).’ – Aidan Cornelius-Bell is in the final year of his candidature at Flinders University. He participated each week.
‘The seminar series spawned from a desire to read through the bibliography of Sara Ahmed in a connected context rather than in isolation. It spread quickly and attracted readers from a variety of countries, disciplinary backgrounds, positions, and interests. The collaborative nature of the sessions led me to consider Ahmed’s work and ideas from perspectives I would not have considered otherwise and challenged my understandings.’ –Similarly, Elisa Armstrong, also in the final year of her candidature, found it of value.
As a statement of the commitment from the DVC Research’s Portfolio, this seminar-based celebration of International Women’s Day acknowledged the injustices that have been intensified through COVID, yet provided safe, welcoming and rigorous intellectual spaces for the development of new modes of community.