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Feminism & Freedom

About this course

Various political traditions have been seized with the questions: “what is the meaning of freedom?” “who should enjoy freedom?” and “what is the content of this freedom?“. Different theoretical traditions provide different answers to these questions. The starting points are different, and so are the emancipatory visions. As an intellectual and political project, feminism grapples with women’s status in society, gender roles, gendered power relations and how various political traditions exclude women from their visions of freedom. From multiple angles, feminism provides a critical evaluation of the core claims and visions of freedom contained in political traditions such as liberalism, anti-colonial struggles, Marxism etc. This module will set up a conversation between some of the major currents of feminist thought, and political traditions such as liberalism, Marxism, and anti-colonial nationalism. With a focus on the different strands of feminism and where they stand in relation to these theoretical traditions, this module will explore broadened and enriched ideas of freedom. The module will also explore how – through interventions like queer theory – different currents of feminism have been challenged and critiqued for their incompleteness, blind-spots and exclusions. At the end of the module participants will assess whether feminism offers a radical vision of freedom in a world that is punctuated by horrifying levels of gender-based violence, inequality, the policing and surveillance of women’s bodies, and a lack of reproductive justice.

This module aims to answer these questions:

  1. How does feminism help us to defend freedom?
  2. How does feminism give us expanded notions of freedom?
  3. How does feminism give us insights that are neglected in other traditions?

Course outline

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2: Why Feminism

Day 3: Freedom and the Feminist Challenge

Day 4: Feminism, Freedom and Subversive Voices

Day 5: Wrapping Up

Materials Minisite Rethinking Freedom Video

Big Data & Freedom

Today, computers are integrated into everyday life and everything we do. Computer-mediated experiences – be they in the form of using a smartphone, social media, an app, email, location services, search engines – produce enormous amounts of data every day which can be analysed and used for various purposes by different actors in society such as businesses and government institutions. While many hail this as an era of great promise, recent developments have also opened up a discussion about the extent to which ‘big data’ is a threat to freedom.

Clip here for a quick run-through on this issue – it’ll take just 10min!