• The Gender Security Project

Democratizing Knowledge: Study Group 1

Our first study group meeting took place on February 28, 2020, where we engaged in a conversation around “Anti-Essentialism and Intersectionality: Tools to Dismantle the Master’s House” by Trina Grillo (link).

The crux of the article centered around the ideas of intersectionality and anti-essentialism as tools to advance the feminist movement. Where intersectionality helps unpack the idea that individual gender experiences differ because of the intersection of multiple identities and contexts, anti-essentialism refutes the idea that a single woman’s experience is a constant and representative example of the experiences of all women.

In our conversation, we began by exploring how these tools can come in handy during research practice, and what one can deploy as a useful means to transition these ideas into meaningful action. Nira Yuval Davis’ transversal politics came to fore as a key tool that helps facilitate shifting standpoints and acknowledging difference by equality. Each of the participants talked about experiences from their fields which were as wide ranging as engaging in the development sector and entrepreneurship to medicine and public health.

The text also led to a deep introspection on what is “regular,” particularly taking off from Jon Powell (mentioned in text) and his assertion around what dip was “regular” in a conversation that suggested that meat-eaters’ dip was regular and vegetarian dip was the other. Drawing our views back to Yuval Davis, we were able to examine the advantages and disadvantages of inserting oneself into research, and then acknowledged the need to both learn and pass the mic rather than to occupy space.

final question that came up was with respect to dealing with information asymmetry and the absence of “perfect information,” to which the article offered a very deep and detailed engagement paradigm in the form of constant critiquing and chipping away at structures, while also acknowledging the need to go to the last mile rather than to stop at an outsider’s idea of a representative. 

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