Inter-University Centre Dubrovnik

An independent international centre for advanced studies


Feminist Knowledge in Action
26 May 2014 - 30 May 2014
Course directors:
Lada Čale Feldman, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Rada Borić, Centre for Women's Studies, Zagreb, Croatia
Jasmina Lukić, Central European University, Hungary
Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research,Zagreb, Croatia
Durre S. Ahmed, Centre for the Study of Gender and Culture, Lahore, Pakistan
Course description:

Envisaged as a follow-up to the topic discussed the previous year («Feminist Critique of Knowledge Production»), this year's course will be devoted to the concept of « Feminist Knowledge in Action», its pertinence and shortcomings when set against the current pressure to legitimize all intellectual work in performative terms of usefulness, functionality and practicality, let alone “efficiency, efficacy and effectiveness” (McKenzie).

The course will provide not only a venue for re-considering actual academic, educational and political outcomes of feminist interventions in the field of humanities, as well as culture in general, but will also attempt to return to the long-standing, thorny issue of theory versus activism divide in a historical perspective. For instance, how could we re-connect the proto-feminist models of the “vita activa” (Arendt), through which women were encouraged to take part primarily in cultural debates, with feminist and post-feminist concept of (political) action in the academe? What is at stake in endeavors to present activism as a form of theoretical knowledge, or vice-versa, and do these endeavours equally pertain to all areas of feminist engagement? Does this conflation of what used to be treated as different practices of thinking and doing smack of justification in front of endless provocations coming from various angles, questioning the purpose of feminism, now that western democratic discourse seems to have successfully adopted and neutralized the rhetoric of gender equality and “equality of profitability”? What forms of subversion are provoked by production of feminist knowledge with respect to the neoliberal university agenda? In which way has the context for bell hooks’ “politics in the classroom” changed? How is the “participatory action research” translatable from social sciences to other types of knowledge without becoming a new manipulative strategy? How do feminists working in disciplines of philosophy, sociology, literary, cultural, film and performance studies manage new hierarchies of the production of knowledge, imposed by the logic of marketing and profit, which rule out certain theoretical and interpretive methodologies, objectives and aims as being out-dated, exhausted, superfluous, or of no interest to the “majority” of students and general reading public alike?

We would welcome not only papers, but also new formats and methodologies of sharing knowledge! The main points of discussion will be as follows:

  • how do we understand and counter current backlash against feminism in general, and in particular against women's studies and gender studies departments in many universities?
  • how do we argue against the current disqualification of feminist knowledge by its re-signification as mere ideology?
  • what is the status of gendered knowledge and feminist research in current changes in academia which foster interdisciplinarity, mobility and work in community?
  • where does feminist knowledge situate its action(s), how does it mark its specific transitions from instrumental/technical and interpretive to critical/emancipatory paradigm (Humble)?
  • how to re-conceive the transmission of feminist knowledge, non-formal education and good practices in trans-historical perspective?
  • how far from us is the utopian idea of feminist university outlined by Woolf in her Three guineas - do words „poor“, „experimental“ and „adventurous“ hold the same resonance today?
  • in which ways is action the outcome of knowledge production and in which way is it its instigator?
  • what meanings does the idea of „embodied knowledge“ hold today, and to what extent is artistic practice a vehicle for its transmission?
  • Contacts:

    Rada Borić, Centre for Women’s Studies Zagreb,

    Lada Čale Feldman, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, Croatia

    Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, Zagreb, Croatia,

    Jasmina Lukić, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary,


    IUC courses are conducted at postgraduate level. All interested postgraduate students may apply to participate, although the course targets young scholars and postgraduate students with a defined interest in women’s studies, transnational studies, philosophy, sociology, literary and cultural studies, postcolonialism, or anthropology. The course will be limited to 25 participants (15 students) in order to provide sufficient space for discussion, seminar work and student presentations. Participants must seek funding from their own institutions for the costs of travel, lodging and meals. Limited financial support is available for participants from Central and Eastern Europe (please see ). The IUC requires a payment of 40 EUR for the Course fee. The Working language of the course is English.

    Application Procedure:

    Please submit a proposal consisting of a short narrative describing your interest in the topic and your CV. Place all current contact information at the top of your CV. Send submissions by e-mail to and Use the subject: IUC Dubrovnik 2014. The proposal deadline is January 15th 2014.

    More information can be found here:

    Course lecturers:
    Lada Čale Feldman, University of Zagreb, Croatia
    Biljana Kašić, University of Zadar, Croatia
    Jasmina Lukić, Central European University, Hungary
    Silvana Carotenuto, Oriental University of Napoli, Italy
    Rada Borić, Centre for Women's Studies, Zagreb, Croatia
    Lois Weaver, Queen Mary Universtiy of London, United Kingdom
    Leonida Kovač, University of Zagreb, Croatia
    Elissa Helms, Central European University, Hungary
    Renata Jambrešić Kirin, Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research,Zagreb, Croatia
    Tracy Cecile Davis, Northwestern University, United States
    Francesca Maria Gabrielli, University of Zagreb, Croatia
    Iva Rogulja Praštalo, University of Zagreb, Croatia
    Attached documents
    Call for application