ST. STEPHEN’S CENTRE FOR GENDER, CULTURE & SOCIAL PROCESSES
The Centre for Gender, Culture and Social Processes (CGCSP), St Stephen’s College, was instituted in 2012 as an inter-and trans-disciplinary research and teaching Centre for faculty and students. Dr. Karen Gabriel is the founder-director of the Centre. The Centre is dedicated to fostering advanced and transdisciplinary engagements – through multiple formats that include research – in various fields of the Humanities and Social Sciences. It engages intensively and extensively with the key terms emerging out of higher education in these fields, both independently and in their intersections with each other. The pedagogical agenda that arises from this, aims to offer students a strong theoretical, methodological and praxiological foundation in dealing with these key terms and the everyday and academic contexts of their applicability. In the related but distinct research agenda, the Centre aims to encourage the formulation of holistic academic and pedagogical perspectives on these fields of study, and to draw these perspectives into theoretical and analytical relations with the fields of development, policy making, politics, and the economy. The larger aim and orientation of the Centre is to engage with, contribute to and shape the discourse and debate around development – its politics, its economics and its policies – while maintaining a significant emphasis on the role and play of gender in these. The Centre has collaborated with SANGAT, KARTINI, OXFAM, ANHAD, CREA, KATHA, and the Babu Jagjivan Ram Foundation, among others.
The non-profit Centre is administratively maintained by St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, but strives to be a financially self-sufficient entity.
As part of its commitment to knowledge production and dissemination, the Centre
a) Offers training modules that will facilitate the understanding of these concepts as everyday phenomena in the present transnational context.
b) Conducts short-term and long-term certificate courses in Gender, Culture and Social Processes.
c) It seeks to foster cutting-edge research–in the form of working papers, seminars, workshops, monographs etc.–of the highest standards under the broad rubric of the gender, culture, social processes rubric, which can be then used in academic and activist contexts.
d) Actively encourages inter-and trans-disciplinary work among interested faculty and students from within and outside of St Stephen’s College.
e) Invites and works collaboratively on these issues with policy-making bodies and agencies, both governmental and non-governmental
The College awards the certificates and degrees for the courses run by the Centre.
Significant Activities of the Centre since its formation in 2012:
Here is a selection of the significant activities that the Centre has undertaken since its inception:
1. Understanding Society (2012) a two-month Certificate Course titled “Understanding Society”. The Course aimed to acquaint students with the discipline of Sociology. The idea is to enhance students’ understanding of their social world, deepen their analytical skills and help them gain a deeper insight into the constitution and negotiations of their everyday world and their location in it.
2. Key Concepts and Critical Thinking Certificate Course (2014) The course, spread over two months, aims to familiarise students with the central tenets and debates pertaining to crucial concepts in humanities and social sciences. The course aims to encourage critical thinking and awareness about issues pertinent to all of us as individuals and as a society. The course will be divided into discussions on eight key concepts that include concerns with the body and subjectivity, anxieties about inequality and the quest for justice, and overarching issues such as social formations, culture and epistemology. The concepts covered included caste, class, gender, sexuality, and the philosophy of science.
3. Research Methodology and Academic Writing Certificate Course (2014): the 4-week Research Methodology and Academic Writing Certificate Course aims to introduce young scholars to key aspects of conducting research in the humanities and social sciences and the rigors of academic writing, useful at all stages of their academic life. The course will take you through both the technical and the substantive aspects of this enriching and fulfilling endeavour over the period of four weeks.
1. Brave New World: The Gendered Political Economy of Terrorism and Fundamentalism (2012): The conference focused on the critical examination of the phenomena detailed above with the idea to identify and think through some of the links between them. It inquired into the ways in which we understand the complex and intricate links between terrorism, types of fundamentalism and the Neoliberal economic regime/Neoliberalism. It addressed questions pertaining to the ways in which these draw on and impact dominant regimes of gender and sexuality, and how the meanings of these phenomena manufactured, and challenged.
2. Texts and Technology: The Interface between Texts and Technologies (2014): This broad-based inter-disciplinary conference was envisaged as a forum for discussion and debate on the interface between texts—material, literary, visual, performative, et al.—and technology, particularly. It looked at the ways in which technology affects the ‘human’, and evaluated its impact: does it tend toward the emancipation of the individual from ascribed identities of caste, class, gender towards a liberating anonymity or does it herald the approach of the new apocalypse populated by alienated subjects and fragmented subjectivities?
3. Interrogating Masculinities (2015): This three-day conference seeks to open up discussions around gender and sexualities through the prism of masculinity. The conference aimed to engage with men and masculinities not just in terms of the attributes that characterize them but also in terms of the historical, structural and discursive conditions and relations that determine their formation, formulations and reproductions.
1. Terrorism and Fundamentalism (ongoing Research Project since 2012). The project was initiated with an International Conference (Brave New World: The Gendered Political Economy of Terrorism and Fundamentalism) in collaboration with SANGAT and KARTINI Asia.
2. Conversations about Caste: Scheduled to run in the academic years 2017-2018, this initiative involves organizing a series of events that focus on caste. These include a lecture series by eminent academics and public intellectuals; workshops, conferences and seminars; and hosting research projects, all on the issue of caste – its histories, conceptions, understandings, discourses, rituals, practices, etc., as well as the ways in which it has been encountered, engaged with, resisted, transformed.
3. Translating Concepts: This initiative proposes to systematically engage with crucial concepts through lecture series by eminent academics and public intellectuals as well as a through project on these concepts and their intersections with other significant registers in India like class, caste, religion, gender, sexiuality, age, family, education, location.
Special Lecture Series, Gender sensitization workshops:
1. Conversations on Cinema, Performance and Media: This is a series geared towards understanding performance studies, cinema, theatre and media and their interface with gender and sexuality. Celluloid in Transit: Film Travel. Memories of Action, and Film Society Cinephilia in India by Abhija Ghosh was the first in this series which has many more talks lined up for the session.
2. Understanding Gender and Sexual Violence: The Panel was planned as one that would to offer broad view of gender-based violence, to extend beyond sexual assault and look at structural violence and women’s human security in everyday life, including in situations of conflict and displacement.
3. Special Lectures
a. Adam Perchard’s lecture titled “Scheherzade the Mongrel: Islam and Enlightenment in Rushdie Haroun and the Sea of Stories”. In tracing the web of allusions to the Arabian Nights in Haroun and the Sea of Stories, this paper repositions Rushdie’s first post-fatwa novel both politically and historically. It also suggests that in this novel’s problematic isolation of Scheherazade’s “mongrel self” (Rushdie, 1990) from her Islamic heritage we may be able to locate a turn towards the Manichean language of Western Enlightenment versus Islamic despotism that some critics feel has come to mark Rushdie’s oeuvre in the wake of “the Rushdie affair”.
b. Arjumand Ara’s lecture titled Translating Atiq Rahimi’s novel The Patience Stone,
4. Book-Ed Club: This was started to provide a formal forum to discuss books and to widen reading repertoire of students and faculty through an intensive engagement with literatures of the world and critical practices across disciplines. Besides inculcating a strong reading culture, it also aims to train the student in reading practices.
5. Collaborated in organizing the “Inter-religious dialogue for Solidarity and Cooperation in South Asia” with Medha Patkar, Swami Agnivesh, Sima Samar as speakers under the auspices of The Right Livelihood Award Foundation at St Stephen’s College, New Delhi, India. 16 October2013.
Future Add-on Plans (2016):
In addition to running the usual activities, the Center will also have the following:
1. The (Girl) Child Project
2. Translating Concepts (with Katha)
3. Refresher course–type modules for and with faculty to mainstream the pedagogies of gender and culture studies in their own disciplines and in their perspectives in general.
Dr. Karen Gabriel
Centre for Gender, Culture and Social Processes (CGCSP)
St Stephen’s College
University of Delhi – 110007