How to Write

Dear Readers,  I have just posted the first episode of my workshop on writing.  You will find it by clicking on the "Writing for Research" page link, above. This episode is about the importance of writing in knowledge production, and the social character of writing.  I will add, over time, episodes about the nature of research communication, the genres of writing for research, planning your writing, the steps in writing an article or chapter, some good resources, and some practical exercises. Happy keyboards!  Raewyn

New Writing: Gender, Education, Social Science

Just published, three new papers.

My re-thinking of hegemony and masculinity in the light of colonial and postcolonial relations.  It’s part of an impressive issue of a French journal about hegemony in gender relations, you’ll find it at:
Reference: Connell, Raewyn. 2015. Hégémonie, masculinité, colonialité. Genre, sexualité & société [En ligne], 13 | printemps 2015, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2015. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/gss.3429.
Abstract. This paper raises questions about hegemony in gender relations, in the light of the global sociology of knowledge, postcolonial studies of masculinities, and politics of gender reform.  It argues for an approach that highlights global power relations, the colonial disruptions of gender orders, and the varying hegemonic projects for masculinity formation that attempt to stabilize gender relations in always-uncertain circumstances.
In the same vein, the paper on southern perspectives in feminist theory, which was behind the Feminist Theory annual lecture in London which you will find on video here
Reference: Connell, Raewyn. 2015. Meeting at the edge of fear: theory on a world scale. Feminist Theory, vol. 16 no. 1, 49-66.
Abstract: Rich and sophisticated analyses of gender have been produced around the postcolonial world. But the theory in this work gets little recognition in the current global economy of knowledge. Feminist theory needs an understanding of the coloniality of gender, seeing the gender dynamic in imperialism and the significance of global processes for the meaning of gender itself. The agendas of feminist theory are being re-shaped on issues that include constitutive violence, power and the state, identity, methodology, and the land. An alternative structure of knowledge is emerging that can re-shape the global terrain of feminist theory and its connections with practice.
The title comes from this poem by Saleha Obeid Ghabesh:
            The evening will be under my disposal
            and the meeting at the edge of fear is mine
            I am another Buthayna
            perfume springs from me
            as well as love and diaspora

Next, my rethinking of gender and social justice has just been released in Portuguese in a social science journal from Brasil.  You can access it online:
Reference:  Connell, Raewyn. 2014. Questões de gênero e justiça social. Século XXI, Revista de Ciéncias Sociais, vol. 4 no. 2, 11-48.
Abstract: Questions of identity, and deconstructionist methods, have characterised gender theory in the global North in recent decades.  But the key issues about gender in the global South are social issues, which require a different approach to understanding gender.  Social theories of gender and justice now recognize the multiple dimensions of gender issues, such as organization, violence, recognition and problems of embodiment.  We move beyond dichotomies to questions of change, multiplicity (e.g. of masculinities) and the different gender orders across the world.  As the pioneering work of Heleieth Saffioti showed, gender analysis deals with large-scale structures.  The dominant economy of knowledge privileges theory from the global North.  But increasingly we recognize the coloniality of gender and the gender analysis that come from the post-colonial majority world.  This includes different approaches to identity, to power and the state, and new thematics such as the relation between gender and the land.  In developing the gender perspectives that are needed for the pursuit of gender on a world scale, South/South relations will be vital.

Good colleagues at the University of Sydney have produced a book of provocative essays on contemporary issues in education.  I have a piece in it on the market agenda in education and how it can be opposed:
Reference: Connell, Raewyn. 2015.  Markets all around: defending education in a neoliberal time.  Pp. 181-197 in Helen Proctor, Patrick Brownlee and Peter Freebody, ed., Controversies in Education: Orthodoxy and Heresy in Policy and Practice. Cham: Springer.
Opening:  In this chapter I will not be proposing a heresy about education.  My idea of education is so orthodox it is almost boring.  But I will be proposing a heresy about education policy – a heresy in defence of education.  Australian education has been reshaped, over the last generation, by a cascade of policy and organizational changes.  They have been introduced separately and by different governments, but have all, with hardly any exceptions, increased the grip of market logic on schools, universities, and technical education...

Finally, two pieces on the making of social science in Australia.  The first is based on my keynote address at the 50th anniversary conference of TASA, the Australian Sociological Association.
Reference: Connell, Raewyn. 2015. Setting sail: the making of sociology in Australia, 1955-75. Journal of Sociology, vol. 51 no. 2, 354-369.  Published online May 2014, DOI: 1177/1440783314532174,
Abstract.  This paper examines the knowledge-creation project called Sociology that was launched in Australia between 1955 and 1975.  An energetic founding group created a network of departments, assembled a workforce, and were rewarded with rapid growth.  Their intellectual project emphasised data collection, scientificity and social reform, closely modelled on sociology in the global metropole.  Underneath was a mostly functionalist concept of ‘a society’ and a strong conviction that Australian Society was a case of modernity.  They succeeded in creating an empiricist science, which played a role in Australian reformism in the 1970s and 80s, and reached a high point in the work of Jean Martin. However many younger sociologists were dissatisfied with the founders’ science, and launched other knowledge projects in the following decades.  The founders’ strategy for making sociology in Australia led to a deep contradiction about Australian coloniality, unresolved in contemporary sociology.
And with perfect timing, this was published not long before the release of the biography of Professor Jean Martin, Australian pioneer of sociology, multiculturalism and women’s presence in higher education.  I was invited to write the Foreword to the book and was very pleased to do so.
Peter Beilharz, Trevor Hogan and Sheila Shaver, The Martin Presence: Jean Martin and the Making of the Social Sciences in Australia, Sydney, NewSouth Publishing, 2015.

A little trip

Academic work is not always a million miles from show business. One point where they come close is the visiting lecture. That’s been a part of my work for the last fifteen years, usually adding lectures at different institutions to meet the heavy costs of inter-continental travel from Australia. A week ago I came home from a tour with seven public lectures and five workshops in three countries. I’ve reported about particular conferences on this blog, but not really about a tour, so here goes:
The trip began with a successful 3-day research group meeting in April at the Fundação Getulio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro. I travelled with Australian colleagues via Chile, flying over the far south Pacific and then over the magnificent Andes. The meeting was held in a room with an eat-your-heart-out view of the harbour and the most famous sugarloaf in the world; we also did some work.
Lecture at UERJ: photo courtesy Carmen de Mattos
The following week I gave a lecture at the State University of Rio de Janeiro’s impressive centre for research on sexuality and human rights, CLAM, which I have mentioned on Twitter. This centre’s programme extends across Latin America and ranges from HIV/AIDS to gender diversity.  My talk was called “Transsexual women’s embodiment: gender, medicine and politics“ and there’s a note about it here:
I then visited the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador, the first time I have been to Brasil’s legendary north-east.  UFBA has one of the pioneering gender research and teaching programmes in the country, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies, NEIM.  We did a seminar on research, with about forty people.  The next day I gave a public lecture “Gender in world perspective: thinking from the global South”, with sequential translation into Portuguese – difficult, but very effective.  There’s a note about it here.
In May I reached Europe.  First visit was to the University of Bristol’s Graduate School of Education, which has an innovative Centre for Globalization, Education and Social Futures.  I was kindly invited to launch the School’s new annual lecture series.  I spoke on “Education and the global politics of knowledge”; outside were rain, wind and cold - neoliberal weather!  The next morning held a workshop on methods in gender research, based on the studies currently being done by graduate students and staff at Bristol.  It was highly participatory and I enjoyed it a lot.
The following week in London I gave the Annual Lecture for the journal Feminist Theory, hosted by the Gender Institute at LSE.  Feminist Theory has recently published my paper “Meeting at the Edge of Fear: Theory on a World Scale” (2015, vol. 16 no. 1, pp. 49-66).  I took up the same theme for the lecture, under the title “Decolonizing Gender, in Theory and Practice”.  The LSE social media folk excelled themselves with a campaign publicizing the event. I saw the Twitter version of it with the hashtag #LSEConnell – curious to be the subject of a hashtag!  About two hundred people came, I was in good form, I think, and there were tough questions in the Q & A session – so all went as we hoped.  There’s a video of it online, also an audio recording, and something that was new to me, a “storify” of the tweets in and after the lecture.
I then leapt aboard the Flying Scotsman steaming north from King’s Cross station... no, unfortunately that famous train steams no more, it’s a boring Virgin Corporation intercity express... and headed for Newcastle.
The University of Newcastle was holding a Spring School in the humanities, on the theme of “Interiors”.  I gave the keynote address, “Border Protection: Inside and Outside Defended Spaces of the Neoliberal World Order”, trying to get bearings on the growth of gated communities and border-defence politics.  The next day I conducted a seminar with graduate students on transsexual embodiment. The Border Protection lecture too has been tweeted and storified (if that's a word).
Then, after meeting friends in London and doing just a little retail therapy, I headed for the Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main.  The Cornelia Goethe Institute for Women’s Studies and Research on Gender Relations has been running – indeed is still running – a public lecture series on the theme “Masculinities”.  Mine was called “Masculinities in the World: Perspectives from the Global South”, and this too was very well attended, as the picture shows.  Before the lecture, I had a workshop with a masters-level class. They were very well prepared; and instead of being told what to think, they grilled me on the subject of masculinity research for nearly two hours.  Good stuff!
Conference in spring sunshine, courtesy of GSSC
Then on the admirable DeutscheBahn to Köln, where the University has recently founded a Global South StudiesCentre.  I gave the opening keynote at the Centre’s inaugural conference, on “Transformations in the Global South”.  You will find the programme here.  It was all in English; those questions about the politics of language buzzed around in my head.  My talk was called “The Global South and Transformations of Knowledge”, and discussed decolonial, Southern and postcolonial perspectives on organized knowledge - see the abstract.
And then: the long flight home, via Hong Kong, and a long recovery from exhaustion... Was it all worthwhile?  I find it hard to judge this kind of academic travel, against the wear-and-tear, cost (including carbon cost) and time involved. What I hope to do is focus attention on emerging issues and approaches, perhaps dramatising them for new audiences – that’s show business again. The ultimate purpose is to create a terrain on which other intellectual workers can build, in the future.  It’s a fragile project, and the real effects will be a long time emerging.  But in the short run, I got great satisfaction from this trip, I hope others got something too, and I’m grateful to all the people who made it happen.
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