Tuija Pulkkinen – Disciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity in Gender Studies

Event Date 17 – 18 May 2012

Day 1: Bolivar Hall,
54 Grafton Way, London WC1.

Day 2: Large Common Room,
Goodenough College,
Mecklenburgh Square, London WC1N

Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy


Transdisciplinarity and the Humanities: Problems, Methods, Histories, Concepts

2011–2013 (AHRC 914469)

Workshop 3

Case Studies 2. Transdisciplinary Problematics: Anti-humanism and Gender Study

This two-day workshop will examine the notion of a transdisciplinarity problematic, via the cases of anti-humanism and gender studies. The first day will approach theoretical anti-humanism from the standpoint of its destructive effect upon disciplinary fields in the humanities and as a radical problematisation of the discipline of philosophy in particular. The second day will focus on gender studies as a transdisciplinary problematic and on the transdisciplinary nature of the concept of gender itself. Topics will include the historical reconstruction of ‘gender’ as a boundary-crossing concept; the relation of its conceptual content to its functioning as a general concept across disciplines; the transformation of the disciplines in the humanities by ‘gender’ and gender studies; and the current productivity of ‘gender’.

Day 2: Gender Studies

Tuija Pulkkinen Disciplinarity and Transdisciplinarity in Gender Studies

Over the last forty years Women’s and Gender Studies have effectively grown into globally practised academic disciplines while simultaneously resisting the notion of disciplinarity and strongly advocating multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinarity. The defining paradox of gaining identity through refusing an identity is a practice that continues to perform strongly in the field of Gender Studies. From the perspective of the institutional promotion of innovation, Gender Studies could thus be viewed as a successful academic product. From another perspective, it could, along with cultural studies, be viewed as having a destructive effect upon disciplinary fields in the humanities. In this paper, I will discuss the very particular historical conditions of Gender Studies as a transdiciplinary intellectual discipline. I will argue that the critical, transformative, interventionist practices within Gender Studies promote and provide space for intellectual exercise in liaison with theoretical anti-humanism. At its most interesting, scholarship in Gender Studies takes part in a radical problematisation of the discipline of philosophy in particular.

Tuija Pulkkinen is an academy Professor of the Academy of Finland, Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki, and leader of the research team Politics of Philosophy and Gender (PPhiG). Trained as a philosopher, as well as a historian and political theorist, she has in the past engaged in studies of Hegel, postmodern thought and, more recently, conceptual history. Her areas of specialization include feminist theory and feminist political theory. Her many publications include The Postmodern and Political Agency (2000), and the edited volumes The Ashgate Research Companion to The Politics of Democratization in Europe: Concepts and Histories (2008); Hegel’s Philosophy and Feminist Thought: Beyond Antigone? (with Kimberly Hutchings, 2010) and Siveellisyydestä seksuaalisuuteen – poliittisen käsitteen historia [From Sittlichkeit to Sexuality – the History of a Political Concept]  (2011). She is also the chair of the Finnish Women’s Studies Society, and a board member of International Association of Women Philosophers.








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