Feminist Research Alliances: Affective convergences

by Adelina Sánchez Espinosa (Volume editor) Dresda E. Méndez de la Brena (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection 282 Pages
Open Access
Series: Researching with GEMMA, Volume 1


Feminist Research Alliances: Affective Convergences is the first volume of the "Researching with GEMMA" series whose main purpose is to present innovative, in-depth, and culturally provocative research on critical issues in Gender and Women’s Studies produced within the GEMMA Erasmus Mundus community. By turning to the feminist alliances and the transformative feminist research convergences constructed throughout 15 years together, scholars, collaborators, and alumni reflect on social and political transformations; the decolonisation of academic practices and curricula; the conception of research as involved in a process that calls for self-reflexive and participatory approaches; the necessary involvement of, and claim for, emotions and affects in our research practices; and an emphasis on qualitative and creative research methods and pedagogies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Dedications
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents
  • Introduction: Feminist Research Alliances: Affective Convergences. Searching for Directions in Times of Trouble (Adelina Sánchez-Espinosa and Dresda E. Méndez de la Brena)
  • Feminist Friendships, Solidarities and a Dream Come True: Shared Conversations about GEMMA (Adelina Sánchez-Espinosa and Orianna Calderón-Sandoval)
  • Words from GEMMA’s Friends: Building Partnerships and Consolidating Transnational Solidarities
  • Part I Weaving the Personal and the Professional. A Critical Thinking Conversation About the Personal and Professional Challenges Faced Throughout GEMMA
  • Section 1. Movements in Academia
  • Introduction: Being on the Backstage of Young Feminist Researchers (Ana M. González Ramos)
  • Processual Movements in Academia: Being a GEMMA Student or How to Become a Feminist Researcher (Beatriz Revelles Benavente)
  • Feminism across Academia: Questioning the Interdisciplinary Quality of Women’s and Gender Studies (Wilmarie Rosado Pérez)
  • Section 2. Embodied Subjectivities
  • Introduction: Narrating Feminist Subjectivation (Cristina Gamberi)
  • Women Asking Questions: Embodied Subjectivity as a Valid Epistemology (Rocío Palomeque)
  • Reflections on Two Years of Research on Asexuality and the Lack of Sexual Attraction (Alice Sabbatini)
  • Part II Weaving Nomadic Knowledges and Affective Methodologies. A Conversation About the Displacement of Knowledge
  • Section 3. Nomadic Knowledges
  • Introduction: Nomadic Knowledges, Cosmopolitan Subjects and the Power of Embodied Infrastructures (Suzanne Clisby)
  • Brazilian National Identity and the Migratory Processes of Brazilian Women in Italy (Damiana Ballerini)
  • Negotiating Discomfort: The Experiences of South Asian GEMMA Students in Europe (Pranjali Das)
  • Section 4. Affective Methodologies
  • Introduction: Coming of (Nomadic) Age in GEMMA (M.S. Suárez Lafuente)
  • Hegemonies of Power versus Affective Relational Anarchy in Social Inclusion Disciplines: Two Case Studies and a Feminist Toolbox (Ana María García López and Ángela Harris Sánchez)
  • “Researching with the Trouble”: A Journey of Emotions and Affective Challenges in Doing Feminist Research (Dresda E. Méndez de la Brena)
  • Part III Weaving Feminist Pedagogies. A Conversation About Teaching, Researching and How to Do Feminist Pedagogies Otherwise
  • Section 5. Weaving Feminist Pedagogies
  • Introduction: Researching and Teaching Feminism: Pedagogies of the GEMMA Classroom (Agata Ignaciuk)
  • Sharing “Other” Knowledges: Thoughts on Teaching Feminist Ethnography in the GEMMA Master’s Degree (Carmen Gregorio Gil and Ana Alcázar-Campos)
  • Challenges and Problems for Research in Library and Information Science from a Gender Perspective (Ana M. Muñoz-Muñoz)
  • Women’s Movements Around the World: Some Reflections on Feminist Pedagogy and Its Role in the Feminist Teachings of This Course (Victoria Robles Sanjuán)
  • About the Authors

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Adelina Sánchez-Espinosa and Dresda E. Méndez de la Brena

Introduction: Feminist Research Alliances: Affective Convergences. Searching for Directions in Times of Trouble

We started this introduction many months ago. We conclude it now. About to say at the “post-pandemics” but is it really already post-pandemics? We do not know. All we know is that these are still times of uncertainties and of cautions. These are the times of something we have learned to call “social distance”, a concept we had never heard of just some months ago. Indeed, new concepts such as “distancing”, “prevention”, “virus”, “isolation”, “lock down”, “vaccination” keep invading our physical and mental spaces as we, the coordinators of this volume, try to return to the project we left unfinished when COVID-19 made its unexpected visit and decided to overstay its “unwelcome”.

Hence, let us start by insisting that the volume we present here is not about distancing but about connections. It does not fear the contagion of a virus but contends it by claiming the need for the contamination with each other’s imaginations. This is a result of GEMMA and GEMMA is about close hugging of each other, about friendships forged through touching, about affect and solidarity, about sharing. Thus, this volume is pertinent at this time not only because it summarises what we have been constructing day after day for the last 15 years but, mostly, because it states very clearly what we want to be as a feminist community which honours its name “COMMUNity” at times when unexpected pandemics persists in its teaching that we can only survive by looking for our communalities, for our joint search for the common-wealth, for the shared responsibility of “staying with the trouble”, as Donna Haraway (2016) would put it, while responding together.

Indeed, our main assets in GEMMA are the feminist alliances we have constructed throughout 15 years of working together in order to make the project of an Erasmus Mundus master’s degree succeed. Many have been the challenges that a joint degree taught simultaneously at ←15 | 16→seven universities in six different countries has had to face throughout all these years. Brexit forced us to change partners from Hull to York and the ultra-right politics of the Hungarian government forced Central European University in Budapest to stop being our partner until they reestablished themselves as Central European University in Vienna, just to name two of the most threatening events in all these years. Before all these challenges we always stuck together, cherishing the extra strength and added value of our convergence. Together, and with the indispensable help of the European Union through its EACEA unit, our strength is much greater than the sum total of seven partners.

The writing of this introduction has also been cut apart by two tragic events. Aurora Morcillo, part of our GEMMA community and collaborator to this volume, left us without previous warning in March 2020. As Florida International University Coordinator and associate partner representative she was one of the instigators of this project. Always there, from the very beginning. A most beloved teacher in GEMMA and an extraordinary colleague. Sit tibis terra levis.

The second one is still ongoing. On 7th of February 2020 one of our GEMMA students, Patrick Zaky, was illegally detained by the Egyptian regime because of his work in defence of human rights in Egypt. Eighteen months later he is still in jail, waiting for his case to be taken to court. Throughout all this time the GEMMA community has been keeping his cause alive by urging people to raise their voices on his defence. Many have been the claims for his liberation coming from institutions such as the European Parliament, national and regional governments, rectors of all consortium universities or city halls. Together with these, GEMMA friends have fed an artivist social network forum called “Voices for Patrick”. We hope this volume works as yet another voice for Patrick’s immediate liberation.

When we started planning this introduction we were wondering about the questions which might best represent the contents of this volume intended to be a summary of the research generated by GEMMA in all these years. Many have been the master theses produced by the students within the programme and the research projects put together by the GEMMA faculty through research alliances with each other. We wondered: what makes our research feminist? What makes us feminist researchers? What does feminism signify in our troubled world? What does it mean to be a feminist of colour scholar in white academia? How should we apply our ←16 | 17→feminist practices into our research? How can we reconcile our theoretical knowledge with our daily life decision-making? What is the best way to queer our methodologies? How, in short, did we end up choosing this path? These questions are part of the academic journey we, feminist and queer scholars and researchers in GEMMA, have gone through when we chose to orientate ourselves towards feminism. Because as researchers the issue of why we have chosen that type of research rather than any other does matter, indeed. How feminism has found us also matters. And so does the why we have let feminism encounter us and become such a significant part of our lives. Or rather: the why and how we have come to pursue, live and perform feminist lives.

As feminist scholars, students and researchers, we realise that gender dynamics are embedded thoroughly in our institutions, our research, our actions, our beliefs, and our desires. One of our most successful responses to this situation is to orientate our engagement with the form of teaching, researching and theorising gender and its relation to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, disability and age in both the personal and professional spheres. We are reminded by Sara Ahmed (2006: 56) that orientations “are about the directions we take that put some things and not others in our reach,” which suggests that these directions are not simply randomly chosen. If we follow Ahmed’s line of thought, we can argue that, as feminist researchers, we are orientated by stories of oppression and the structures that sustain them, by our backgrounds, past experiences and emotional ups and downs. This is why we orientate ourselves towards research into some things and not into others. Our stories orientate us and lead us to different theoretical places and different objects of study. As such, as feminist researchers, we have an “embodied orientation” which is a key part of “how (…) we come to find our way in a world that acquires new shapes, depending on which way we turn” (ibid.: 1).

But then, we orientate ourselves towards something because we feel disorientated in the first place. As Ahmed suggests, as feminists we feel disorientated and this might be the moment when our orientation starts existing to the extent that we start questioning the comfort we had formerly assumed to be the norm. In other words, we disorientate ourselves towards something because we have agreed to exist without being comfortable. In our own specific ways, each of us relates to a world that swings on hinges, a world that is frustrating, exhausting and shattering. We are disorientated feminist scholars and “killjoys, misfits, trouble-makers; willful wanderers ←17 | 18→and woeful warriors: we fight for room to be as we wish; we wish for room in which we did not have to fight to be” (Ahmed, 2020).

We, at GEMMA, disorientate ourselves because we believe new perspectives could become also available to critically reorientate the world. Academic orientation, therefore, is something that is both embodied and embedded, and includes the power/knowledge of the disorientated subject. In this volume we attempt to present how GEMMA feminist researchers and scholars choose to dis/orientate. For the authors collaborating in this volume, GEMMA has meant a feminist compass, a starting point for dis/orientation. GEMMA has de-guided us and helped us find our way in life. As such, GEMMA is a personal, embodied, situated experience that has meant something different to each and every one of the people who have taken part in this project. And, still, as personal as GEMMA is, we are all connected by shared readings and experiences, by artistic works and political activism, by disciplinary miss-understandings and transgressive methodologies. Overall, this volume is about feminist embodied orientations, embodied feminist politics, vulnerable feminist writings and politics of dis/orientation which become productive within the context of the new feminist alliances we have constructed, through the convergences of our lives both at a personal and research level.

Considering the international and multicultural background of the GEMMA community, this volume reflects on and weaves the personal and the professional, the empirical and the theoretical, the political and the affective. In this sense, intersectionality and interdisciplinarity are the most defining features of GEMMA as a collaborative project. And within this diversity, the articles gathered in this volume trace the development of the fundamental traits of GEMMA’s feminist and gender research: the goal of social and political transformation; the decolonisation of academic practices and curricula; the conception of research as involved in a process that calls for self-reflexive and participatory approaches; the rejection of absolute notions of objectivity; the necessary involvement of, and claim for, emotions and affects in our research practices; and an emphasis on qualitative and creative research methods and pedagogies. This volume aims to show how our feminist academic master programme has moved to positioning itself beyond the pedagogical comfort of an unrisked academic environment and towards a dis-orientated and trouble-making one. And this endeavour, we insist, is not a single effort but the result of collective and collaborative activism. It is a turn we have come to refer to as GEMMAnism.←18 | 19→


ISBN (Softcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2022 (April)
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 282 pp., 1 fig. b/w.

Biographical notes

Adelina Sánchez Espinosa (Volume editor) Dresda E. Méndez de la Brena (Volume editor)

María Adelina Sánchez-Espinosa is Senior Lecturer in English literature at the University of Granada and scientific coordinator of GEMMA: Erasmus Mundus Master and Consortium in Women’s and Gender Studies. Dresda E. Méndez de la Brena is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Concordia. She holds a Ph.D. in women’s studies from the University of Granada and Erasmus Mundus Master’s Degree in women’s and gender studies from Utrecht University and the University of Granada.


Title: Feminist Research Alliances: Affective convergences