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[Commlist] Call for Papers: ex aequo Journal - Issue 42
Wed Feb 05 10:33:37 GMT 2020
Call for Papers: Issue 42 ex aequo Journal
Although neoliberal thinking and practices are subjects of considerable
debate, most literature agrees that the emphasis on minimal state
intervention and the extension of market relations in all aspects of
economic activity are central to its project. David Harvey (2007, 23)
noted how these ideas have exercised considerable influence over a wide
range of US and international institutions and organizations, including
education, the media, financial and banking industries and government
regulatory agencies. Touching all aspects of our lives, both conscious
and unconscious, «Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a
mode of discourse and has pervasive effects on ways of thought and
political-economic practices to the point where it has become
incorporated into the commonsense way we interpret, live in, and
understand the world». Neoliberalism has thus become an almost total and
globalizing regime that supports both the logic of investment and the
distribution of public resources and incentives for the formation of a
«neoliberal subject», optimizing the subject’s governance according to
market rules in terms of efficiency, individual effort and performance.
Brown describes neoliberalism as a «normative reason order» that
«transmogrifies every human domain and endeavour, along with humans
themselves, according to a specific image of the economic» (2015, 10).
As a consequence, the withdrawal of the state from responsibility for
the economic security of all its citizens, besides transferring risks
from the collective to the individual, clearly affects social security
and public services. Given the ways in which markets and economic
relations are generated by gender, it is women who suffer the most from
the impact of these policies, which is why it is key to consider the
relationship between neoliberalism and gender, articulated in a way that
early on feminists considered an urgent task.
In the early 1980s, Zillah Eisenstein predicted that liberal feminism
had a radical future, with the contradictions emerging from women’s
participation in workforce making private subordination unsustainable
and public discrimination visible, in what would generate an impetus for
structural change (Eisenstein 1993). Thirty years later, other
feminists, including Eisenstein herself (2007, 2009), recognize that
feminism walks the corridors of corporate and state power, but instead
of challenging capitalism, it seems to have become more intimate with
the latter. For this reason, particularly in the last decade, some
feminists questioned the links between feminism and neoliberal efforts
to build a free market society as well as the cooption of feminism
itself by neoliberalism. The debate was open in the extent to which
mainstreaming feminism helped to remove any trace of feminist politics
(McRobbie 2009) and the ways in which feminism was becoming complicit
with neoliberalism through its focus on ‘recognition’ claims at the
expense of a more socialist focus on redistribution (Fraser 2009). In
this regard, it should be remembered that Mainstreaming was adopted as a
fundamental strategy for social change at the Fourth World Conference on
Women: Equality, Development and Peace, held in Beijing, celebrating its
25th anniversary in 2020.
The link between feminism and neoliberalism has received different
names. Kantola and Squires (2012) speak of a «market feminism»,
Eisenstein (2009) of a «free market feminism» or «hegemonic feminism»,
Roberts (2012) of «transnational business feminism (TBF)», Rottenberg
(2017) of «neoliberal feminism», Elias (2013) of «post-feminism». In the
specific domain of communication and media studies, the links between
neoliberalism and the media are called «post-feminism» (McRobbie 2004,
2009; Gill 2007), «popular feminism» (Banet-Weiser 2018), or even a
combination of both (Banet-Weiser et al. 2019). More broadly, the
literature on feminist activism in the neoliberal era is predominantly
concerned with the cooption of the former by the latter and with the
inability of feminism to act as resistance to neoliberal policies and
When questioning women in the sense of assuming themselves as desiring
subjects, enhancing new - and multiple - identities through consumption,
to what extent is the neoliberal logic placing the brunt of the
responsibility to change the status quo on the individual and not the
collective? In fact, the feminist movement, in its intellectual practice
and political commitment, depends on a collective mobilized around the
objective of changing society according to the interests of all women,
instead of private individuals. How is it that a liberal context, which
favors the right to be free from State intrusion and which places the
emphasis on each person's personal responsibility for his/her own
improvement and well-being, is reconciled with a whole feminist legacy
that points to women as an «essentialist» collective?
In this edition of ex æquo , we reframe these issues taking a look at
the last 20 years of the broad field of gender studies under neoliberalism.
It is precisely from the field of women’s, gender, feminist studies
(WGFS) that important contributions have sought to consider how, for
example in the Portuguese context, «the present neoliberal logic has
promoted commodification in higher education, individualization,
excessive workloads and performance in the academy» (Augusto et al 2018,
107; see also Oliveira & Augusto 2017), or how «the growing emphasis on
productivity has created opportunities for WGFS but also produced a mood
of exhaustion and depression that has extremely detrimental impacts on
WGFS academics’ bodies, relationships and knowledge production» (Pereira
At the centre stage of our issue will be the economic rationality that
seeks to transform capitalist societies through the promotion of
competition and individual freedom. Under the neoliberal regime,
governments cease to have a practical or ethical responsibility towards
their collective of citizens and relinquish the obligation to level the
living conditions of all people harmed by systemic discrimination.
Furthermore, instead of instituting policies to promote social and
economic equality, neoliberalism calls for individual choice and
personal responsibility as antidotes to the barriers of prejudice and
But is neoliberalism a singular project or a «field of forces whose
imperfect articulations create spaces for unexpected and potentially
disturbing forms of agency» (Newman 2017, 99)?
Taking a retrospective gaze over the last 20 years of the interception
between gender and neoliberalism may give us some answers that concern
not only gender studies, but the paths of feminisms in the last two
decades. Perhaps, as indicated by Prügl (2015, 615), we need to think
«the ‘neoliberalisation of feminism’, recognising the diversity and
shifting nature of various feminisms and the fluidity of their boundaries».
It will therefore be important to consider the articulation between the
issues of women’s emancipation and neoliberalism, assuming «which
policies are the best feminist policies, which issues and forms of
democracy need to be stressed, which compromises need to be made in the
struggle for gender justice and against neoliberalism, are questions
that women active in each region and country need to decide» (Funk 2013,
*ex æquo thus invites the submission of papers that fall within the
broad scope of the issues raised here, including, but not limited to,
- university management, scientific policies and the epistemic value of
- challenges of gender studies in face of post-colonial, decolonial and
- implications of feminist critique in the epistemological recognition
of gender studies;
- contesting gender studies from multiple sources, among others,
conservative antigender movements and feminist currents of sexual
- contesting social sciences and gender studies;
- discussion of mainstreaming as a strategy for social change;
- political economy, corporatism, leadership;
- studies on media, journalism, advertising, social networks, consumption;
- studies on post-feminism, popular feminism, and liberal feminism.
Augusto, Amélia, Catarina Sales Oliveira, Emília Araújo e Carla
Cerqueira. 2018. «The Place for Gender Research in Contemporary
Portuguese Science and Higher Education Policies within the Context of
Neo-liberalism». In Gender Studies and the New Academic
Governance,107-128. Wiesbaden: Springer.
Banet-Weiser, Sarah. 2018. Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular
Misogyny. Durham, NC: Duke University Press
Banet-Weiser, Sarah, Rosalind Gill e Catherine Rottenberg. 2019.
«Postfeminism, popular feminism and neoliberal feminism? Sarah
Banet-Weiser, Rosalind Gill and Catherine Rottenberg in conversation».
Feminist Theory, p 1464700119842555.
Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism”s Stealth
Revolution. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Eisenstein, Hester. 2009. Feminism Seduced: How Global Elites Use
Women‘s Labor and Ideas to Exploit the World, Boulder, CO: Paradigm
Eisenstein, Zillah R. 1993. The Radical Future of Liberal Feminism
.Boston: Northeastern University Press.
Eisenstein, Zillah. 2007. Sexual Decoys: Gender, Race and War in
Imperial Democracy . London: Zed Books.
Elias, Juanita. 2013. «Davos Woman to the Rescue of Global Capitalism:
Postfeminist Politics and Comptitiveness Promotion at the World Economic
Forum», International Political Sociology, 7 (2), pp. 152–69.
Fraser, Nancy. 2009. «Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History»,
New Left Review (56): 97–117.
Funk, Nanette. 2013. «Contra Fraser on Feminism and Neoliberalism»,
Hypatia, 28 (1), pp. 179–96.
Gill, Rosalind. 2007. «Postfeminist media culture: Elements of a
sensibility». European Journal of Cultural Studies 10 (2): 147-166.
Harvey, David. 2007. «Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction». The ANNALS
of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 610(1): 21–44.
Kantola, Johanna e Judith Squires. 2012. «From State Feminism to Market
Feminism», International Political Science Review, 33 (4), 382–400.
McRobbie, Angela. 2004. «Post-feminism and popular culture». Feminist
Media Studies 4 (3): 255-264.
McRobbie, Angela. 2009. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and
Social Change, London: Sage Newman, Janet .2017. «The politics of
Expertise: Neoliberalism, Governance and the Practice of Politics». In:
Higgins, Vaughan and Larner, Wendy eds. Assembling Neoliberalism:
Expertise, Practices, Subjects. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 87–105.
Oliveira, Catarina Sales, & Augusto, Amélia. 2017. «El gender
mainstreaming en la academia portuguesa». In Ciencia, Técnica y
Mainstreaming Social (1): 17-27. Universitat Politècnica de València.
Pereira, Maria do Mar. 2019. «You can feel the exhaustion in the air
around you»: The mood of contemporary universities and its impact on
feminist scholarship. Ex æquo 39: 171-186.
Prügl, Elisabeth. 2015. «Neoliberalising Feminism», New Political
Economy, 20(4): 614-631.
Roberts, Adrienne. 2012. «Financial Crisis, Financial Firms … And
Financial Feminism? The Rise of ‘Transnational Business Feminism’ and
the Necessity of Marxist-Feminist IPE», Socialist Studies/Études
socialistes, 8 (2), pp. 85–108.
Rottenberg, Catherine. 2017. «Neoliberal Feminism and the Future of
Human Capital», Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 42 (2):
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