Post doctor Redi Koobak is researching the #metoo moment in academia.
What is this metoo-project all about?
My project aims to explore the impact of the #metoo movement on the stratified institutional structures of academia in Norway, Estonia and South Africa. I aim to place the discourses that surround sexual harassment within academia into a transnational context. Considering the Global North/Global South binary through the three locations I have chosen, I want to trace the dynamics of global production of knowledge and the effect of the #metoo moment on the local contexts. I look at three main elements: institutional practices, critical pedagogies and visual arts. Firstly, I am interested in how discourses that surround sexual harassment are related to gender, sexuality and power as well as regimes of truth and hegemonic practices within higher education settings. Secondly, in addition to university practitioners, I engage in dialogues with students and their views on how survivors/victims of sexual harassment tell their stories in the context of #metoo academia. Thirdly, because new knowledge is needed on remembering/retelling, representing and resisting practices regarding stories of sexual violence and harassment, I would like to create an archival and exhibitionary space for forms of activism, performance, and art that disrupt and destabilise everyday gender and sexual injustices.
Why and how did you become interested in your research themes?
My research takes a transdisciplinary approach from within the fields of feminist cultural studies and critical analysis of the politics of location and the politics of representation in the visual, affective, linguistic and political sense. I specialise in feminist cultural studies with a focus on discourses of gender, race and sexuality, in particular focusing on the intersections of the postcolonial and the postsocialist within transnational feminism. I also focus on visual culture, visual arts and creative academic writing methodologies. Since becoming a gender studies scholar, I’ve been particularly interested in challenging dominant forms of scholarship and pedagogy, so my new project on #metoo and academia takes that – the critique of dominant research – as its focus.
What kind of data will you collect/use for your research?
I will interview institutional practitioners, review institutional documents and collect material from social media. In addition, I will analyse classroom discussions, focus group conversations with students and #metoo related artworks.
How is your research relevant to the public?
The project is of high interest to the public due to the relevance of the #metoo movement to public concerns. On the one hand, academia is a space where knowledge is produced for social good, on the other hand, it is not an idyllic place free from injustices. So the project addresses both, figuring out the role of academia in challenging intersectional injustices and fighting intersectional injustices in the academia.