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Autumn Term 2018

Dear CFR supporters and members,

Welcome to the new term and academic year.

Firstly I would like to welcome Dr Akanksha Mehta as the new co-director of the Centre. Akanksha has recently joined the Department of Media, Communications and Cultural Studies as one of our two new appointments in Gender, Sexuality and Cultural Studies. Akanksha will be helping support the Centre and will be responsible for social media and publicity as well as organising events for the centre, she will also be running our Feminist Postgraduate Forum.  A huge thank you to Chloe Turner who has done such an outstanding job providing support in the last 12 months and who is an important graduate alumna of the Centre and of our MA Gender, Media and Culture. A huge thank you also to Dr Yasmin Gunaratnam who will be stepping down as co-director to concentrate on her research projects with Global Grace. She will however remain as an important advisory board member.

We are really excited to continue our Centre for Feminist Research programme with a range of events this term. To begin the year we are co-hosting an event with the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, ‘1949: A Debate Between Claudia Jones and Simone de Beauvoir’ led by black feminist philosopher Kathryn Sophie Belle on Thursday 4 October, 17.00-19.00 in 256, Richard Hoggart building, Goldsmiths.

There is also a workshop with Kathryn at Senate House, Room 261 on Saturday 10 October, 10:00-13:00. Please contact if you wish to participate, there are only 30 places available, so please register a.s.a.p.


As part of the Sex, Gender, Rights series for the Human Rights Film Festival hosted by the Centre for the Study of Global Media and Democracy in association with the Media Forum, there will be a screening of Nalia and the Uprising, Julia Bacha, 2017. Following the screening, Akanksha will be co-running a Q&A discussion alongside the filmmakers. More information about this screening and the rest of the film series can be found in the attachments to this email.


We are co-hosting an event alongside the Goldsmiths Press in celebration of the launch of Susanna Paasonen’s Many Splendored Things. Susanna will be giving a public lecture titled ‘Thinking Sex and Play’ followed by a reception on Monday 22 October, 18.00-20.00 in LG01, Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths.


Later this term we are looking forward to hosting the performance artist Bird La Bird who straddles historiography, comedy, queer lives and politics. Bird La Bird will be giving an explosive performative lecture exploring the moment in 1914 when suffragette Margaret Gibb smuggled an axe into the National Portrait Gallery and attacked a portrait of Thomas Carlyle. The lecture called ‘Turning the Tables’ will pick up where Margaret left off and explore the dangerous legacy of Thomas Carlyle including his part in the history of racism, his wilful act of writing women out of history and his desire to return to feudalism.

We will also be welcoming Professor Clare Hemmings from the LSE Gender Institute who will join us this term to talk about her new book ‘Considering Emma Goldman: Feminist Political Ambivalence and the Imaginative Archive’ (Duke UP, 2018), which examines Goldman’s significance as an anarchist activist and thinker to the past and present of feminist theories and activism. Hemmings shows that the contradictions and tensions within Goldman’s approach to race, gender and sexuality speak to unresolved questions that continue to shape feminist practices and politics today.


Further into this term led by Akanksha, Yasmin and Louise Chambers the CFR will also be organising a student-led event on ‘decolonising’ the university that focuses on questions around an anti-colonial curriculum.

These are just some of the events confirmed this term. Keep an eye on our Events Calendar for confirmation of the dates, times and rooms for what we have planned this year:


One of the themes for the Centre this year is Mental Health. We will be hosting a series of events throughout the year where we will be exploring the crisis in mental health in the academy and what we can learn from mental health activism and existing work on the “Mad Positive” university and the need for intersectional analyses.

Mental health emerged as an under-researched theme within the context of our British Academy research project “Cultures of Consent: Examining the Complexity of Sexual Misconduct and Power within Universities.” More information about this project can be found in previous blog posts below.

We aim to address this in forthcoming research and to lay the groundwork this year. If there are any members, supporters, students and staff who would like to be involved do please contact us.


Akanksha Mehta is the new co-director of the Centre for Feminist Research. She works at the intersection of gender, sexuality, race, and everyday politics and violence. She is also interested in feminist, queer, and decolonial pedagogies and the politics of decolonial movements in education, art, and activism. Her doctoral research (at the Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS) titled, Right-Wing Sisterhood: Everyday Politics of Hindu Nationalist Women in India and Israeli Zionist Settlers in Palestine, used ethnographic and visual methods, feminist, queer, and postcolonial theory, and narrative writing and visual practice to examine the multiple subjectivities of right-wing women. She is currently transforming this work into a monograph and is also a photographer.


The best way to keep in touch with us is via our Facebook and Twitter accounts, linked at the bottom of the mail.

All the best for the forthcoming term
Lisa Blackman
Co-director of the Centre for Feminist Research

Public Feeling, Dissident Acts – Soundcloud Audios


‘Public Feelings, Dissident Acts: Dismantling Cultures of Sexual Harassment’ was a day long conference held on Monday 18th June 2018. The day introduced the findings of a British Academy funded project ‘Cultures of Consent’ by the Centre for Feminist Research, inviting dialogue on how cultures of sexual violation can exist and circulate through feelings, gestures and atmospheres that are difficult to name and act against.

Below are links to our Centre for Feminist Research Soundcloud account that has audio recordings of two of the discussions from the day:

Panel 1: ‘Curriculum, Pedagogy, Classroom’

Professor Claudia Bernard (Goldsmiths), Dr Nisha Ramayya (Poet/Queen Mary’s University), Dr Linda Stupart (Artist and Educator) and Dr Isabel Waidner (University of Roehampton)


‘Sexual Harssment and Violence in Higher Education: The Personal is Political’ 

Professor Alison Phipps (University of Sussex)

Full details of our project findings can be found on our previous post here

Any thoughts or questions please drop an email to

Public Feeling, Dissident Acts – Event Programme

The Centre for Feminist Research, Goldsmiths would like to invite you to our upcoming event, ‘Public Feelings, Dissident Acts: Dismantling Cultures of Sexual Harassment in Universities’. It will be a day long conference event on Monday 18th June, 10.00-17.00pm to introduce the findings of a British Academy funded project on ‘Cultures of Consent.’

Below is the event programme outlining the discussions throughout the day.

Full details of our project findings can be found on our previous post here

The day is free and welcome to all. Any thoughts or questions please drop an email to


Public Feeling, Dissident Acts: Dismantling Cultures of Sexual Harassment in Universities

The Centre for Feminist Research, Goldsmiths would like to invite you to our upcoming event, ‘Public Feelings, Dissident Acts: Dismantling Cultures of Sexual Harassment in Universities’. It will be a day long conference event on Monday 18th June, 10.00-17.00pm to introduce the findings of a British Academy funded project on ‘Cultures of Consent.’

Event program of the conference will be released later this week.

Full details of our project findings can be found on our previous post here

The day is free and welcome to all. Any thoughts or questions please drop an email to

“Cultures of Consent: Examining the complexity of sexual misconduct and power within Universities”

Welcome to the Centre for Feminist Research blog. In the first post we introduce our current research project on sexual misconduct entitled ‘Cultures of Consent: Examining the complexity of sexual misconduct and power within Universities.’

What is the project about?

Cultures of Consent is a one-year (2017-18), British Academy funded project on staff-to-student sexual misconduct in British universities that began in August 2017. Work for the project has been done by Lisa Blackman, Yasmin Gunaratnam and Chloe Turner (Goldsmiths).

What is “sexual misconduct”

For us the term ‘sexual misconduct’ describes forms of power used by university employees against students, which may involve grooming, sexual force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. Sexual misconduct can include sexual harassment but the latter term can capture a narrower spectrum of abuses of power.

What have we been doing?

Using a scoping review methodology, we have been updating and archiving existing literature on staff-to-student sexual misconduct in UK universities and gathering relevant research from international contexts and on current best practices in an open access resource. As a part of this work we have been identifying suitable methods and methodological principles for future research, as well as trying to facilitate knowledge exchange and build research capacity on the topic.

Research on staff-student sexual misconduct

Much of the existing British research on staff sexual misconduct was undertaken in the 1990s. Staff to student sexual misconduct in British universities is under researched. Since 2016, attention to staff-to-student sexual misconduct has become more prevalent, with media attention to the topic and significant lobbying and quantitative and qualitative data being gathered by the 1752 Group.

Goldsmiths and sexual misconduct

Goldsmiths feminist postgraduate students, alumni and staff have been pioneering British research on the topic. Post-graduate students began the blog ‘Strategic Misogyny’ as an online forum, which has become a resource in gathering and sharing anonymised stories of sexism and staff sexual misconduct, harassment and assault.While the attentiveness to public feeling builds on an important intervention by MA Gender, Media and Culture students at Goldsmiths who organised an event on Sexual Harassment Culture in Higher Education which argues that “Sexual harassment is a problem we have, which affects us all.” This work has taken place in the context of high-profile cases of staff sexual misconduct and harassment at Goldsmiths and the related resignation of Professor Sara Ahmed, which together have intensified concerns about the need to establish institutional and University sector policies and processes to address the issue and provide support for students. Goldsmiths have recently published a new campaign against sexual harassment to help change cultures on campus and training for students and staff. This includes a new online reporting tool Report and Support and and new policies and working practices. This work has been led by Vicki Baars, the Strategy and Review Manager for Sexual harassment.


Key findings from our scoping review of the literature

* Much research does not fully engage with the distinct complexity of staff to student sexual misconduct. The subtleties of the academic power relations that create and allow cultures of coercion, manipulation, grooming and intimidation remain under researched including boundary-blurring actions such as looks, body language and invasions of personal space that produce coercive atmospheres.

* Discussion is most prevalent on acts of sexual harassment/assault, rape culture, university lad culture, and more recently sexual violence within a neoliberal academy.

* We have identified key academic articles spanning from 2010-18, which have significantly shaped understanding of the topic. These are written by a core group of academics (Alison Phipps, Tiffany Page, and Vanita Sundaram) who have also been campaigning for policy changes. This includes shaping NUS/institutional policy and how debates are framed in mainstream and social media. Themes include the importance of recognising the inherent power imbalance in staff-student misconduct, the ineffective reporting strategies that enable misconduct to ‘disappear,’ and the institutional sexism of both schools and Universities that allow such cultures to continue.

* A new report “Power in the Academcy” released in April 2018 by the NUS and 1752 Group stands as the only specifically focused, quantitative study of staff sexual misconduct in Higher Education. The report concludes that Higher Education in the UK is an environment where sexualised touching, comments or threats are experienced by students from staff members. Women, postgraduate and gay, queer and bisexual students, are disproportionately likely to be subject to acts of misconduct. The findings also highlight the inadequate institutional policies and processes available to students when attempting to report these incidents.


Sexual Misconduct – Our approach

The terms “cultures of sexual misconduct” and “sexual harassment culture” that are often used in the literature are significant. They remind us that individual acts have long histories and that they are shaped by and shape the circulation of “public feelings” within institutions. Our project builds on the important work of academics and activists who have identified some of the ways in which these public feelings can manifest. These include, the cultures of neoliberal universities, sexist pedagogy and curricula, bodily capital (who and what is accorded value), the mental health crisis within universities, as well as the more ephemeral ways in which knowledge and awareness of sexual misconduct can circulate through rumours, gossip, anecdotes gestures and silences.

We also recognize that these complex histories and cultures intersect with those psychosocial histories that students bring to university cultures. Such histories and cultures can be mobilized, recruited, amplified and channeled through practices of grooming, coercion, intimidation, manipulation and sexual force and also can become the sites of personal and political resistance. There are class, raced and sexed dimensions to these dynamics that are currently underexplored.

In order to begin to understand these issues we require intersectional approaches that can understand the psychosocial dimensions of “consent”, that are attentive to the liveliness of sexism and cultures of sexual harassment that exist in schooling, education, media cultures, sport, politics, the family, literature and so forth. This is important to not only allow cultures of sexual misconduct in HE to be identified but also to shape a counter set of “public feelings” with the aim of intervening in and stopping the proliferation of cultures of sexual harassment.

Our online literature archive is available via the following Cite-u-Like library link

Alongside the research we will also be hosting a conference:

Public Feelings, Dissident Acts: Dismantling Cultures of Sexual Harassment in Universities
Monday 18th June
Goldsmiths, University of London

More details to follow


Let us know what you think via the comments below or social media/email links on our Contact page.


Lisa Blackman, Yasmin Gunaratnam, Chloe Turner.