Next meeting, 6th Feb: ‘Women’s Employment and Empowerment in Saudi Arabia’, 4-5pm, HumSS280

Hello everybody!

Our next talk is on the 6th February and will be delivered by Mona Almunaiey. Mona is from the Politics and International Relations department here at Reading. Mona will be talking to us about the institutionalisation of patriarchal norms in the Saudi labour market.  We will be in the usual place, HumSS280, at the usual time, 4pm.

Here is Mona’s abstract:

Despite the accelerated development of Saudi Arabia since the oil boom in the 1970s, Saudi women were entirely marginalised from economic participation. Women slowly infiltrated the labour market, albeit only in the education and medical sectors, as well as gender segregated bank facilities. Gradually, the situation improved since 2009 when the government started a series of legal reforms to expand women’s participation in the labour market permitting and promoting women’s employment in all other sectors.

 Paradoxically, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranks as the worst Arab country in women’s economic participation (the third worst country in the world) according to the gender gap index of 2016. This research argues that this discrepancy is a consequence of legal institutionalisation of patriarchal norms in the Saudi labour market, hence impeding the expansion of Saudi women’s employment.

We look forward to seeing you on Monday!


Meeting Report: ‘Motherhood at the Centre: Connecting Creativity and Reproduction in Käthe Kollwitz’s Artistic Practice’

We’d like to thank Elizabeth Kajs for coming all the way from Bristol to our network meeting today. It was wonderful to hear a bit more about Elizabeth’s research and how it has progressed since she presented at the Gendered Spaces symposium in May (organised by the Gender and Sexuality cluster).

Elizabeth contextualised Kollwitz’s art in the political climate of late 19th and early 20th century Germany. She explained that women were seen as the guardians of tradition, were expected to behave passively, as well as assuming the role of the nurturing mother. Kollwitz’s art subverted these ideals of the 3rd Reich and protested against the poor conditions in which the proletariat lived. Elizabeth highlighted the controversial nature of Kollowitz’s art in her portrayal of subject matter such as unwanted pregnancy and domestic abuse. Kollwitz explored these issues in the lives of the working class and took inspiration from the medical records kept by her husband who was a doctor.

The Q and A included a discussion on the reaction of the Third Reich to Kollwitz’s work, its dissemination (such as in a pro abortion pamphlet), the artistic movement into which she fitted best (Elizabeth explained that Kollwitz didn’t fit into any specific tradition but shared some tendencies with naturalism), and her aiding progressive movements through her art (such as drawing an image of a pregnant impoverished woman which was used in a pamphlet produced by an anti-abortion campaign).

Thanks again to everyone to coming along to yet another fascinating paper. We’ll see you next time on the 14th November for Lubna Bahamman’s paper on Saudi Women on twitter.


Report by Maria Tomlinson

“What is Wrong with Marxist Feminism? Taking the Economics out of Marx” 26th November

Our next meeting will take place on November 26th at 1pm in G09 at the Graduate School. The paper on the interaction between Marxism and Feminism will be presented by Yanos Soubieski from the department of Politics and International Relations.

Here is his abstract:

Karl_Marx_001Marxist Feminism as it stands strictly perceives patriarchy, a society characterised by male domination over women, in terms of capitalism. Marxist Feminism focuses specifically on the roles that capitalism designates to women in the production process and the harmful implications this has. Marx’s own analysis of capitalism was not as economically rigid as this would have us believe, with terms like alienation, exploitation and ideology all owing their theoretical rigour to Marx. My research is predicated on taking the economics out of Marxian analysis in the context of patriarchy. I shall do this by applying the Althusserian theory of ideology to understand the reproduction of patriarchy. I thus aim to provide a new form of Marxist Feminism contrary to the economistic variant which has survived for so long.

We look forward to seeing you there! We are hoping to see many of you from the politics department but also from other disciplines too.