Public Panel Discussion, 18 March 2016, Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies.
A cooperation with the URPP Asia and Europe.
Convenors: Yasmine Berriane and Bettina Dennerlein.
Participants: Hoda Elsadda, Amel Grami, Marylène Lieber, Fatima Sadiqi, Regina Wecker, and Bettina Dennerlein (moderator).
During the Panel discussion that took place on the evening of March 18th on “Women and Gender Studies in Arab and Swiss Universities”, five scholars from Arab and Swiss Universities shared their experiences about the institutionalization of gender studies in their respective university. The discussion was moderated by Bettina Dennerlein and focused mainly on the following aspects: (i) The motivations for engaging with gender as a category of analysis; (ii) The ways gender studies are being taught in the different contexts; (iii) The potentialities and the problems linked to and produced by the traveling of conceptual tools and institutional models.
The discussion showed that in both regional contexts (Arab and Swiss), the institutionalization of gender studies faced diverse forms of resistance and obstacles, which are linked to a variety of factors ranging from political limitations, and institutional malfunctions, to cultural resistances. One of the core challenges for the development of women’s and gender studies is the issue of translation of concepts and their adaptation to local contexts as well as the question of dominant languages in the field. While in Switzerland (and more generally in Europe) the relation between academia and feminist activism tends to be seen as a problem, it is considered an asset in the Arab World where the development of gender studies benefitted greatly from the development of the NGO sector and from the individual initiative of politically engaged academics.