Raka ShomeIn the autumn of 2014 the Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies in cooperation with the Graduate Gender Programme (GGeP) at Utrecht University organises the thirteenth round of the DOING GENDER Lecture Series. These lectures stress the importance of doing gender work combined with an active involvement in the practice of gender theory and research. The concept of DOING GENDER supports a hands-on approach to gender issues in the sense of social and political engagement with the new forms of gender inequalities that are taking shape in the world today. The lecture series wants to give space to the new generations of gender theorists and practitioners and to perspectives that innovate the field and do gender in new ways. Key is the notion of doing gender: what is the state of the art definition of gender? How do contemporary scholars and activists utilise this definition?

The first Doing Gender Lecture  is organised in cooperation with the Postcolonial Studies Initiative (PCI) and comes from Dr. Raka Shome (New York). Her talk on Thursday September 25 will focus on new formations of white femininity in the millennium (and contemporary post millennial years) that are articulated through particular  logics of borderlessness of privileged white women. This borderlessness is  organized around a discourse of cosmo-spirituality, well-being, and healing, and frequently incorporates the ethos of Asian-inflected therapeutic practices of inner wellness, planetary connectivity, and “finding yourself.”  Astrology, reflexology, acupuncture, ayurveda, Asian herbal medicines, colonic irrigation, homeopathy, meditation, yoga, spiritual retreat packages, reiki, tai chi, and so on have emerged as technologies for recrafting  and healing the white (usually female) subject of contemporary neoliberalism.  This talk will explore the implications of such  “cosmo-healing” of privileged white femininity in which white women become (seemingly) connecting to, and radiate, a global soul and “life flows.” We see this particularly articulated through female celebrities.  The talk will also address how a politics of global justiceseems to be replaced by a discourse of global wellness in such transnational (healing) connections of privileged white femininity.

Dr. Raka Shome is a Media, Communication, and Feminist Cultural Studies scholar who writes on postcolonial cultures and transnational feminism. Currently based in New York, Dr. Shome has published numerous articles in leading journals and anthologies in the field of Media, Communication and Cultural Studies.  Some of her essays have been reprinted in key texts in the field of global communication and media studies.  She is the author of Diana and Beyond: White Femininity, National Identity, and Contemporary Media Culture (University of Illinois Press, 2014)—a book that examines how new sets of postcolonial relations in contemporary western cultures are mediated through images of white femininity. Under her co-guest editorship, the first-ever special issue on “Postcolonialism” was published in the field of Communication Studies in the International Communication Association journal Communication Theory (August, 2002). She recently also guest edited a special issue on “Asian Modernities” (2012) in the (Sage) journal Global Media and Communication, which included several articles focused on the question of what it means to be “modern” outside of liberal western frameworks.
Her current research interest is in the logics of non western modernities.  She is currently guest editing an issue of  Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies journal (Sage Publication) on ‘Gender/colonialism/nationalism and Twenty First Century’ and is co-planning a special issue of the journal Postcolonial Studies on ‘Postcolonial Media Studies.’
She is also a primary organizer of the first ever international conference on Postcoloniality and Communication that will take place in Villanova University in March 2015. See link (http://wfi2015.vucommdept.com/).

Lecture details:

  • Thursday September 25, 2014: Dr. Raka Shome
  • Title: White Femininity and Cosmopolitan Healing
  • Time: 16.00 – 17.30 hrs
  • Location: Utrecht
  • Chair: Prof. Dr. Rosemarie Buikema
  • In cooperation with the Postcolonial Studies Initiative (PCI)

The Doing Gender Lecture Series takes place in Utrecht and is free of charge. Registration is not compulsory, but highly appreciated: nog@uu.nl or 030 – 253 6001.