Jessie Bernard Award - returning thanks


Remarks at the American Sociological Association awards ceremony, on receiving the 2017 Jessie Bernard Award for “scholarship that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass the role of women in society”.
I thank you all, and I thank the Association, for your kindness in making this award.  I appreciate the ASA’s commitment to principle, in a time when foreigners from remote places are often suspect, and transsexual women are among the targets in new campaigns of bigotry.
Science is now under threat from post-truth media, corporate greed and authoritarian politics.  Social science is not exempt.  Our critical edge and capacity to document social reality are heartily unwelcome to the powerful and privileged.
Yet a time of trouble is also a time of renewal. Jessie Bernard, for whom this award is named, was one of the pioneers in a feminist insurrection in the 1960s and 1970s that transformed sociology.  As the joke goes, if you can remember the ‘sixties, you weren’t there.  But a lot of strong women were there, and the gender research they launched has grown in sophistication, and increasingly links global North with global South.
Making knowledge is a collective project.  My research on gender depended ultimately on thousands of fellow-workers and students.  Good understanding of society really matters for democratic projects, so it’s vital to sustain that creative workforce. But conditions have changed, and the new generation faces a harder task than my generation did.  I wish you well.
Sociologists, go forth!  You have nothing to lose but your Founding Fathers.  You have a wide world to know.

Green Waste



Each second Monday the Council collects Green Waste
from our bins in the back lane.
I rarely remember which week is the one,
and my Waste’s mostly cockroach brown
or the grey of dead twigs, so I quickly add – to encourage them –
a layer of soft weeds, still fresh.
Green, yes, but waste? Can I trust this cost-cutting Council
to aim its dump truck at a compost heap?
I want my wealth to feed new green, and not
the black waste of oil, the red waste of war.

Jessie Bernard Award


The American Sociological Association has kindly made me the recipient of the Jessie Bernard Award for 2017.  This award, established about forty years ago, recognizes "work that has enlarged the horizons of the discipline of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society."

The award is named after Jessie Bernard (1903-1996).  Jessie was one of the founders of the Society for the Study of Social Problems in the 1950s.  In the 1960s and 1970s she became an amazingly productive contributor to feminist sociology, continuing her activism, research and mentoring long after retirement.  A model for us all! 
For an evocative account of her life and work, written by Patricia Yancey Martin, see: http://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/savvy/footnotes/julyaugust09/bernard_0709.html
I will be travelling to the annual meeting of the ASA in Montréal in August 2017, and hope to meet many colleagues, students and fellow-conspirators there.

Gender, Sex, Coloniality: Public Lecture

Next Wednesday, 29 March 5.30 at 215 Franklin Street Melbourne, at the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, I'll be giving a public lecture:

SOUTH OF MY NIGHTS: COLONIAL REFLECTIONS ON SEX, GENDER, DEATH AND SURVIVAL

It's free, all welcome!

What it's about: The social science we use in research on health and illness, violence and inequality, is largely derived from European & North American social experience - including the power to draw knowledge from the colonized world.  I'm asking how these issues look if we start our stories, instead, from the process of colonization itself.

I'll try to work this out in three contested areas:
  • the making of Australian masculinities
  • the politics of birth
  • struggles to survive with gender contradiction.
I will reflect on the social science we need, and the social science we are likely to have, in the world of Putin, Xi, Trump and Turnbull.

The title? A variation on lines from an early poem by the great Judith Wright:

     South of my days' circle
     I know it dark against the stars, the high lean country
     full of old stories that still go walking in my sleep.




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